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Shadow’s Thoughts on Stereotypes

By Shadow

Several years ago, when TAO asked me to join her here, I was a bit hesitant. My therapist encouraged me to join her, telling me it would be very therapeutic, and encouraging me to tell my story, because, in my therapist’s words, “It’s a story that needs to be told”. When I initially resisted, knowing from personal experience how telling my truth, my story, affected people, how they didn’t really want to hear the truth, and how angry people could get, she further encouraged me by pointing out how I was not afraid to talk about the difficult, unpleasant, and uncomfortable things in life. My therapist, an adoptive mother, emphatically stated, “These things need to be talked about! Somebody has to talk about it!” So, here I sit, on a beautiful day, the sun shining, listening to the birds singing outside, Oh, no, I just heard one of the cats getting himself into trouble on the front porch, as something just came crashing to the ground, and wondering what in the world am I possibly going to write about for the next 30 days.

My blogging partner, TAO, is so good at finding all the studies, articles, reports, and discussing things so intelligently. I, on the other hand, lean more to the emotional side, needing some kind of strong, emotional trigger before I can even come up with a sentence. She took the first prompt and ran with it. I read it and thought, “Oh, crap. What can I possibly say about any of this?” I have no idea where this will go, but what the heck? I’m going to give it a shot.

As an adoptee, and a blind person, I am a living, breathing, walking, talking, stereotype, whether I want to be or not, think I am, or not. I’ve been at war with stereotypes most of my life in one form or another. I’ve fought the good fight and, at times, it’s kicked my ass. However, there have been other times when someone actually got it, grew, and finally understood that I am not just some poor, helpless, blind person, and sometimes angry adoptee. I am a perfectly capable, sometimes intelligent, kind, caring, and compassionate human being, like so many other blind people, and adoptees are if given the chance. When that happens, and you see a bit of progress, even if it is one person at a time, it sort of makes the battle scars worth the fight.

The stereotype I find most interesting is the one in regards to my status as an adoptee, the ever so popular illegitimate child of an unwed mother. E, my first mother, told me once that one of the reasons she placed me for adoption was because of the illegitimacy stereotype. She had known a lady, who had kept her illegitimate child. She had watched how, not only the lady, but the innocent child, had been shunned, looked down on, and ostracized. She said she didn’t want that for me. She thought placing me for adoption would save me from the shame of that stereotype. I find it so interesting that adoption did not save me from the stereotype, or the shame. I find it even more interesting that it was because of adoption I felt that shame, because people simply assumed that to be the reason I found myself an adoptee. Yes, people treated me differently even though I had been adopted. I couldn’t escape that stereotype even through adoption.

I find it sad that it was the shame of that stereotype that E, my first mother, could never get past, so much so that she, herself, put that shame on me later in reunion. I have found the reactions, of my biological families, to my being such a stereotype quite interesting, amusing at times, and sometimes the reactions were very painful. Funny, how adoption became, and made me, the stereotype it was expected to save me from.

I suppose, this is, just one of the reasons, why I find it so offensive when I see how many adoption agencies, in their attempts to explain the benefits of an “adoption plan” for a pregnant woman seem to imply that the answer to all her problems is to place her child for adoption. It has been said many times. For many, adoption is a permanent solution to what, very well may be, a temporary problem. Now, that I’ve gotten through this first post, I wonder what tomorrow will bring? I suppose, I better go, now, and check to see just how much trouble that silly cat has gotten himself into.

TAO’s thoughts on this November 1st prompt

 
 

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Adoption and Stereotypes

By TAO

November 1st prompt…There are a lot of stereotypes when it comes to adoption.

How do you NOT fit the stereotype?

The stereotype: If you are a verbal adoptee who blogs or posts on forums then you are unhappy.

I am a contented person who loves gardening, reading, my animals, and nature.  I am a homeowner and wife, but I am not cut out to be a housewife.  I thrived in the business world, and mourned my retirement.  I am very interested in politics, science – primarily medical and genetic advances, and protecting the environment, and now, learning everything I can about adoption past, present, and future.

My impetus to joining the on-line world came when I became sick, and found out my family health history would have provided a detailed road map to the risks I faced.  Once on-line, I found out the adoption agencies, and adoption advocates and awareness groups, have done nothing meaningful to alleviate the risks of living your life without your family health history since I was adopted so many years ago.  I have routinely checked over the years, and it is not even a topic for study, or improvement, and that makes me feel sick inside – knowing others will be affected like I was.  I was frustrated then, and am frustrated now, by the complete lack of concern I find in this area, that it is just the risk accepted on behalf of the future people adopted.

My journey evolved into learning the history of why adult adoptees all over the states are denied the right to their own history and original birth certificates, and the sheer number (in the millions) of adoptees like me out there.  How demeaning it is to always be considered a child to be protected from our own history, while simultaneously seen as a threat to our own mothers by those in adoption, further compounded by the stereotype of how mothers would choose abortion than having the threat of one day meeting their adult children hanging over their heads.  How full of stereotypes and lies that propaganda really is.  The picture that is painted of what they actually think of adoptees – is mired in stereotypes  of us from the 1950’s.  How unwilling adoption advocates and awareness groups within adoption are to support adoptees in changing the law – rather – most will fight tooth and nail to keep the status quo – and you really have to ask what exactly do they have to hide?

What’s your least favorite stereotype?

That all mothers who surrender – willingly chose adoption. 

That wasn’t true in my era, and from talking to mothers today – it isn’t true now either.  It breaks my heart when any mother who would be a great mom “chooses adoption” because it is the only good solution because we as society, haven’t been willing to give them a hand-up in the early years.

There are even stereotypes in the adoption community. How do you fit into those stereotypes?

I don’t fit into any of the stereotypes, nor do most people I have met.  I found this quote that sums up my experience within the adoption community.

Stereotypes are devices for saving a biased person the trouble of learning ~ Author unknown

*****

While I was writing this  – I was also listening to this ted talk…

Lemn Sissay: A child of the state

Literature has long been fascinated with fostered, adopted and orphaned children, from Moses to Cinderella to Oliver Twist to Harry Potter. So why do many parentless children feel compelled to hide their pasts? Poet and playwright Lemn Sissay tells his own moving story.

(some views don’t show the Ted link – let me know if you see it in the comments, or to access the link to go to the comments)

Don’t miss Shadow’s thoughts about the November 1st prompt.

 
11 Comments

Posted by on November 1, 2012 in Adoption

 

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So there are adoptees who couldn’t care less…

I read a recent motherlode blog post titled Why I didn’t search for my daughters birth parents.  Nothing to say about the post itself, but as per usual I read a selection of the comments.  Can’t tell you anything about the comments except for one that stuck in my mind and wouldn’t let go, so I am going to break my feelings down here.

The comment was made by a friend of the parents whose children are now adult adoptees.  Telling not only the parents story, and what they did, but also the adult adoptees stories.  With enough facts that if you were one of the family, or knew the family being talked about, you could probably guess who it was about.

Usually it doesn’t bother me too much when people bring out their stories of my friend, or a friend of my cousins brother in-law, but the first trigger is the extraneous details not needed that I am not including below.  Use the story but at least keep it generic – I have friends who adopted children who are now adults… 

“They encouraged all of them to keep in contact with relatives there, but one daughter refused. My friends did keep in touch with her family, however, and eventually persuaded her to at least meet them.  She said, though, that she knew who her family was, and felt no need to have another.  So there are adoptees who couldn’t care less. Her siblings were more receptive to their birth families.”

The second trigger is dragging out the “see some adoptees don’t think about their other families and the adoptive family is enough” stereotype pitting the good adoptee against the bad adoptee, that came through loud and clear with the “So there are adoptees who couldn’t care less” part of the statement. 

Perhaps the adoptee didn’t care, she isn’t here to tell us and it was the commenter who provided that couldn’t care less judgement of what the adoptee felt.  If the adoptee had said it then the commenter would have stated: She said, though, she couldn’t care less and that she knew who her family was, and felt no need to have another.  But the commenter didn’t state that – she added her own narrative to the story saying So there are adoptees who couldn’t care less without knowing what the adoptee in question actually felt, or didn’t feel, because it was third hand information.  That triggered me. 

Whatever reason the adoptee chose not to have a relationship is her own.  I doubt it was as cut and dried and callous as the commenter makes it out to be.  Adoptees are human beings, not paper dolls after all, and as humans we are capable of making complex emotional and rational decisions, based on what is best for us at that time and place in our lives.  And like many of the decisions we make in life, we don’t always lay out exactly what thoughts and considerations went into making that decision, especially to a parent to pass on to a friend of that parent. 

When I hear stories related by others they always make it seem so cut and dried, easy, no thought or emotion invested – the answer given is the sum total of all her feelings.  As an adoptee I can come up with multiple reasons that may have been part of her thought process to come up with her decision to not have a relationship.  Any adoptee can run through the different thoughts and feelings they have had at one point or another.  We all have complex stories to unravel with complex feelings that change at different times, throughout our lives.  Shadow has talked about how she never thought much about adoption until she got her diagnosis, and then the emotions and the processing started.  I thought about being adopted from the time I was a child, and processed different parts, at different stages, and have had a myriad of different feelings and thoughts on being adopted.  We are all unique. We all go through the process different, and feel different, at different times.  Why is that so hard for people to understand?

My story is different from every other adoptees story, except the fact that we were all adopted.  The same can be said for every adoptee.  Being adopted is different for everyone.  Why do people think that there are only two models of adoptees – good adoptees or bad adoptees.  And if there are only two models adoptees come in, then that also means they see us as merely shallow versions of human beings, and perhaps more like cute chains of paper dolls, which model should I pick my child from. That is the view I think some people have of adoptees and that sucks.

 
11 Comments

Posted by on December 18, 2011 in Adoption, adoptive parents

 

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