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Used for a cause…

04 Feb

By TAO

Can someone please explain why it is okay to use adult adoptees as poster children? You know it exploits the person, a human being.

From posts stating that Kaepernick shouldn’t be playing because he could have been aborted – despite the fact that there is zero indication in any news reports that it was even a possibility. Yet because he was adopted it apparently is fact to some who want that to be the focus. To twitter messages / instagram picture proclaiming he was also a foster child like Oher and how powerful adoption is, and who knows what else I thankfully did not see.

People did it to Steve Jobs as well – both before and after he passed. After he passed – the pro-life groups were excruciatingly vocal, at the very time when his family and friends were grieving the loss of a loved one. Did anyone stop and ask if this was appropriate? If it was even true? What his views were?

The above are just a few of many. Both the pro-adoption and the pro-life groups would be well served to consider how that plays out in reality, on the person and family.

Kaepernick was facing the biggest challenge of his very short career and yet everywhere you turned – not one word about how hard he worked, or how much he achieved in such a short career, or even about his poise and calm presence on the field. Only that if not for adoption he would have been aborted. If not for adoption he would never have achieved anything – that is the message sent. A poster child. Only what he can do for your cause.  Not how all the *noise* might affect him.

I am glad I am not a famous adoptee – having my achievements proclaimed to be only because I was adopted.  That the destiny of adoption combined with adoptive parents are the only reasons for famous adoptees success.  It is a disturbing message to send. That we are destined to fail unless we are saved by adoption. That who we are, what skills and abilities we have combined with hard work, would not have been enough – except for adoption – we would have failed.

I sat and looked back at my life yesterday, and compared it to the life my siblings have who were raised by my mother. I can see no difference in how we all turned out. When I compare myself to my siblings through adoption there was no magic formula called adoption that made all the difference – we all have/had our own temperaments, skills, work ethics or lack there of, staying power, choices made, and no amount of being adopted changed that. The only thing I can see that is different because I was adopted was where I grew up, which made who I met along the way a different group of people.

What I would like to ask you to take away from this is that while adoption shaped our lives – it is not the only reason why we succeed or fail – we are all more than just adoption. We are human beings just like everyone else, capable of great things, or failure, and everything inbetween.  Praise people for what they have achieved, encourage people to do the best they can.  Don’t use them for poster children for your cause, unless they want to be.

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11 Comments

Posted by on February 4, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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11 responses to “Used for a cause…

  1. Julie Shapiro

    February 4, 2013 at 3:17 pm

    I’m not a football fan so this may not mean anything at all, but I didn’t realize that Kaepernick was adopted until I read this post. I did, however, hear countless time that yesterday’s game was his tenth start. I wonder if you were more sensitive to the adoption narrative than I (or more attuned to the voices that made the comments you are reacting to?) This doesn’t invalidate your point at all–it’s just an observation.

    In general I agree with you that making a person into a poster child is a form of exploitation. But I also think it is valuable to have “out” adoptees, just as it is valuable to have “out” lesbian and gay people. Those kinds of role models can be an antidote to shame. But being public does leave them vulnerable to the sorts of poster child things you’re talking about.

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  2. TAO

    February 4, 2013 at 3:33 pm

    Thanks Julie – yes I am overly sensitive to this and pick up on it – but am also a football fan, (and hockey). Openness is good and reduces the stigma – but used like this it harms as much (or more) than it helps. Imagine if your successes which are based on your brains, grit, determination, long countless hours hitting the books, sacrificing, putting your schooling as a priority, and anything else you have achieved are all discounted and is only attributed to you because you are a lesbian. Obviously that is insane, but that is what this type of message sends to people about adoptees – to me it says – my life would have been nothing, I would have achieved nothing, I could have been aborted – all of which are false, but people actually believe that. It dehumanizes the individual. All that to say – thanks for commenting – I like conversations. I am overly sensitive…

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    • cb

      February 5, 2013 at 2:19 am

      You’re not overly sensitive. Like you, I’m tired of the “So and so could have been aborted but instead he was adopted” stories, when no-one knows whether the bmom even considered abortion. Maybe I just dislike the thought processes that people have when they think the above sentence, eg it gives the impression that they believe that most bmothers are thinking something along the lines of “Hmm, I don’t want this kid, should I abort it or give it to someone else to raise?”.

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  3. mad momma moogacat

    February 4, 2013 at 4:19 pm

    In case there’s any doubt about how Colin Kaepernick’s adoption history has been co-opted by others for their own benefit and aggrandizement, take a look at ESPN columnist Rick Reilly’s atrocious column from last week:

    http://espn.go.com/espn/story/_/id/8897116/colin-kaepernick-birth-mom

    There’s a lot of negative words that can be applied to this, but the ones that sum it up for me are patronizing, presumptious, and infantalizing. Reilly’s real message here is look what an enlightened adoptive parent I am, and how lucky my daughter is to have me. Colin Kaepernick is just the vehicle he uses to get there.

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    • TAO

      February 4, 2013 at 4:27 pm

      Yep…sigh…and none of the rhetoric and overwhelming attention to his adoption would have affected him at all right? Watching the circus made me sad. I hesitated even using his name, but I wouldn’t have used it in the headline, or as a search tag, so only a few who usually stop by here will read it.

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  4. 7rin

    February 5, 2013 at 1:14 am

    Reblogged this on Adoption Mania and commented:
    *nods all the way through again*

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  5. Valentine Logar

    February 6, 2013 at 11:07 am

    Perhaps because I am not overly sensitive to the stories, maybe because my first parents married and had 5 more children who they raised together. I continue a relationship with some of my siblings. My first mother and I have had a sometime rocky relationship but we find our way and have always been honest. My first father were also always honest before his passing. So this is what I think.

    My mother should have aborted and had she had that option, would have. She and I are both pro-choice. Despite her Catholic upbringing she knew in 1957 her pregnancy would always be life limiting. My father, would have tried to prevent an abortion just as he tried to prevent the adoption. Their later marriage (3 years later) and subsequent children limited my mothers life choices for the rest of her life. They both eventually understood this.

    Adoption is one great option when it works. There are children in the world who need care, love and families. First parents make choices. Adopted children also make choices as adults.

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    • TAO

      February 6, 2013 at 12:58 pm

      Val – I can’t disagree with what you said and am pro-choice as well. What I disagree with is using someone famous for your cause just because of being adopted. If an adoptee (famous or not) is pro-life and wants to be a poster child that is their choice, and is distinctly different than the former. Perhaps I am overly sensitive to it because of what dad experienced being a doctor pre Roe v Wade – and it wasn’t that they all wanted an abortion, or that they all wanted adoption.

      Liked by 1 person

       
  6. Beth

    February 6, 2013 at 6:29 pm

    If the agenda is anti-abortion, why do they need to USE an adoptee? Wouldn’t any of the other team members be able send the same message? If they chose to, or even if they didn’t?

    If the agenda is pro-adoption, why would they need to even mention abortion? Obviously he wasn’t aborted, just like the rest of the people at the ball game. All of their mothers chose something other than abortion. The majority certainly didn’t choose adoption.

    I know plenty of adoptees, and non-adoptees, that would not be chosen to be used as a poster child for anti-abortion or pro-adoption! LOL

    It’s past time for the general public to quit falling for this crap, and spreading it.

    I don’t really see how this particular story would sell a mother on adoption? Knowing your child might not be filled with gratitude like they say, but anger or hatred from that good ole feeling of rejection, and not even enough gratitude to speak to you.

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  7. seespeakhearmama

    February 11, 2013 at 3:00 am

    as spiritmama to 3 children, I am always excited to share adoption stories with my family. In my mind these stories strengthen my children, allowing them to see adoption in a positive light, counteracting many of the images about adoption that the media still presents. Not that K’s success is because of adoption but because he is a successful and hard working person that happens to be adopted. I appreciate your comments and will continue to follow your blog to hear an adult side of the adoptee experience.

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    • TAO

      February 11, 2013 at 12:37 pm

      Welcome – glad you deciphered what I was trying to say… Be warned though that I do get pretty grumpy about stuff 🙂 but am willing to listen as well.

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