Saturday, September 12, 2009

Birth Mothers Lose Again: The Media Storm Over Aimee Louise Sword

Martha Nichols for Adopt-a-tude

This just in, from Salacious News Service, Inc.: A 35-year-old woman had sex with the son she gave up for adoption ten years before. The boy's age and name have not been released, but we assume he's a young teenager. Maybe really young. Some of our seasoned investigative reporters have asserted that he was ten years old at the time. Others have called it a "summer romance." And oh, by the way: she stalked him on the Internet, even though the adoption agreement she'd signed stipulated only minimal contact with her birth son. Some experts say the boy may be emotionally scarred for life.

Aimee Louise Sword was, in fact, arrested at the end of April in Waterford Township, Michigan, on one count of third-degree criminal sexual assault (two other counts have since been dropped). She is now out out on bail. You can read variations of the story via the links above, with some sites hyping either the incorrect "mother has sex with a ten-year-old son" angle (Coed Magazine) or using the word "raped" in the headline (Fox News).

When the story is portrayed this way, it's gross, it's awful—what else can be said? But in yet another sensational and virally spread news story about adoption, we get way too much information about whack-job Aimee's MySpace status updates—where her mood is "strong"—and her quotes of Lil' Kim. (Earlier on Saturday, September 12, the link to her MySpace page, under Aimee Pope, still functioned; now it gets you "This user has either cancelled their membership, or their account has been deleted.")

Almost nobody's saying, hey, wait a minute, does this have anything to do with the typical birth-parent-reunion? There are almost no qualifications in the early news accounts along the lines of "Sword by no means represents the vast majority of birth parents." And last but not least: what about all the missing details and reasons for why Sword might have done what she did?

Something is very off about this story, and I don't mean just an age-old taboo being broken. There's a long hike between "summer romance" and "rape." Most of the early news reports said nothing about the boy's adoption situation or his adoptive parents. Far too many online outlets made what seem to be deliberate errors about the boy's age and omitted other key facts.

A commentary from the site You Can't Make This Up sticks up for Sword, noting that the son was 15 and that a social worker representing his adoptive family "asked his permission to find her, because he was getting unmanageable at home and they hoped his real mother might be able to set him straight."

For the moment, let's put aside the baggage of "real mother" and the thinking that implies about the magic touch of biological parents in helping disturbed youth. This piece calls Sword's son a "gangbanger" who may well have coerced his birth mother into having sex, not the other way around. She supposedly complied "partly due to guilt, partly out of fear of losing contact with her son forever and last but not least, partly because she was asked by his adoptive parents, the social workers and her son’s shrink to make an attempt to bring him to his senses – or he would face juvenile detention."

So which version of the story is true? The answer is likely a mix of the "facts" used to spin this sordid tale one way or another. The problem with truth in news these days, especially as it does the rounds on the Internet, is that the first kneejerk versions stick in readers' heads. And when it comes to an attractive woman, a teenage boy, and incest, the kneejerkers are rarely feminists or adoption advocates.

The sources of information in You Can't Make This Up at aren't stated, although comments from one of the first reports of the story in the Oakland Press, a local Michigan paper, do appear. There's also a link to another report in ("Metro Detroit Local News & Talk") about some commenters coming to Sword's defense.

The real point is that this awful story, which involves at least one disturbed woman and child, not to mention all sorts of shadowy circumstances, has been circulated far and wide. In the days ahead, maybe some reporters will interview other birth mothers condemning Sword. Maybe a few writers will look closely at the complicated position of birth mothers in American society. At the very least, I'd like to point out that such stories do a grave disservice to birth parents, especially because we hear far less from them than we do from adoptive parents and adult adoptees.

But for now, with this turn of the stereotype wheel, it's birth mothers as sexually depraved, because why else would they give up their babies? And the follow-on: domestic adoptees all turn into gangbangers. Another turn, another celebrity, and we'll be back to those grasping adoptive parents who choose the cutest baby that money can buy.

Or, if they don't like the child, maybe they'll just murder the kid. Salacious News Service has brought us a number of recent stories about adoptive moms killing their children, including a nine year-old quadriplegic, whose body was found stuffed in a storage bin.

Aimee Louise Sword is quite the MILF (her MySpace photos have been circulated widely, too), and she's stirred up an Oedipal storm. But she's just one more for the collection of Adoption Freaks, which occupy the chair next to Octomom in the current media free-for-all.

This post also appears on Athena's Head, Martha's Open Salon blog as "Sex with a Birth Son: The Storm Over Aimee Louise Sword."


malinda said...

Just wait until the Salacious News Service gets wind of Genetic Sexual Attraction!

Martha Nichols said...

Haven't they already? I'm sure they were pumping a study from

Martha Nichols said...

I should also add that a number of commenters on some of the Sword news stories mentioned that they had experienced such attraction for their birth parents. This is a hot-button issue, in more ways than one, and maybe it's not as ridiculous as my earlier off-the-cuff comment suggests. But again, where's the evidence? The numbers? I doubt any real stats exists, just the opinions of various people with various biases.