“W” is for Words…
Words shape our views and realities. As I go through the month of November I keep coming back to the danger of the single story – see previous post.
My single story was created with words. Words designed to both apply a reason for my need to be adopted because there could be no marriage, to ensure I could not identify who my family was and to lessen any anger in me. The main sentence in my four sentence story was…
“My mother was a college student who had an affair with an older married college professor.”
In my era in this situation a divorce would seldom have happened. If it had, both would have been persona non grata to everyone and they would have to have left the area and rumors would somehow have followed them to the next city. The professor would have been summarily dismissed from the college on moral grounds for both the affair and I would expect, the divorce. My mother would have been “THE OTHER WOMAN” and been completely and utterly reviled by other wives as lowest of low creatures, wanton, without morals, beyond redemption.
See how that single sentence both created the reason for my surrender and the reason why the other alternative – family preservation – was not a consideration? I often wonder if “that story” was repeated over and over again for all babies surrendered in my area, a college town. It wraps every question that could be raised in a neat package complete with bow that says no other option.
In reality, my mother worked and my father had attended college and they were boyfriend and girlfriend relatively close in age. Not as easily accepted as a valid reason to surrender, they could have just got married, they could have raised me, they could have tried harder to keep me.
But instead that single sentence that framed and justified my need for surrender, “my single story” quashed any concerns my parents may have had over whether I needed to be adopted. It quashed any anger I could have over them not trying hard enough to keep me. It quashed any chance of me finding them based on who they were and what they did. It solved everything and also provided the lure of a baby coming from intelligent genes, a college professor, a female college student, the creme de la creme. The lure of coming from moral people who made a mistake and did the right thing for all parties, despite any personal cost to them. A healthy white baby girl from a family with superior intelligence and deep moral strength to do the “right thing”. What could be finer?
In reality like so many other boyfriends and girlfriends of that era they had sex with little or no protection. And like so many other girls from that era my mother got pregnant. And the choice then was marriage (some due to family pressure, some because they wanted too) where the baby was born “early” and oh my, wasn’t it a miracle she had such a large baby? or no marriage happened and the girlfriend “went away” and the baby was surrendered to adoption and the problem was gone never to be spoken of again.
I find it amazing what a selection of words can do to create an illusion that is acceptable and accepted by all. Words that calms any fears and reassured at the same time plus gives the added bonus of promises of superior genes in all areas. The person who crafted the main sentence should have worked in advertising…
Words can also be used to bolster and encourage feelings of entitlement and deserving or on the flip side not entitled and unworthy. It just depends on the way you craft the sentence and who your target is.
The adoption industry builds up one side and tears down the other side with the best tool possible – WORDS. A recent newspaper article clearly shows how the effect of building up one sides feelings of entitlement stay with that individual even years later. “Despite their own anxiety, realizing the young mother’s difficult choice, they allowed the other family time to say good-bye” Yes, I had to read that twice and today had to go back and read it again. Allowed…even though they were not the legal parents of said baby “they allowed the other family time to say good-bye“.
and then the Words used to convince the other side you are not worthy of being a parent…
“Your child deserves a better life than what you can give him”
“Every child deserves a mother and a father”
“Imagine the GIFT you are giving to another couple who want to be a family”
“Loving your child means recognising you may not be enough“
And the Crisis Pregnancy Centers…they have developed an amazing way with Words. All carefully crafted and refined to make all options other than adoption scary and wrong. I googled today and found one where the word adoption was only used a couple of times and you had to go past the front page to find them, and yet I knew it could not be that simple. So I did some digging (simple google search of a key phrase) and found the people who link them to adoption agencies and the NFCA. So much for being open and upfront.
Words can be crafted in so many ways.