Rambling post on giving newbies a break…

07 Dec


I was reading a post in Slate today about a journalist who acquired aphasia from a medication she was on for migraines.  I had no idea that could happen, I thought you had to have had a stroke or traumatic brain injury. 

Anyway, I saw some similarities to my aphasia – but not in every aspect I deal with.  This blog has been so helpful as it has allowed me to practice writing, and getting the word in my head be what my fingers actually type, something I couldn’t practice in private because I also needed the feedback that what I was trying to say, was understood.  I still have to edit almost every sentence – but not as many times, and I think it is easier to read, a win. In daily life it has also helped me in my speech too, so a double win.  Thinking about that post later made me remember when I realized about a year ago that I didn’t use any contractions in writing or speech – I still write that way, but I try to see it and change it.  Until that light-bulb went on – I was clueless that I didn’t use them, when I know I did before.  I just couldn’t see it – because I didn’t know to look for it.

Now why am I bringing this up, and what does it have to do with adoption?

I think we need to remember to give the newbies more of a break when they first come to adoption.  They need time to see the full reality of what adoption today is – when they arrive they are either in a pregnancy they weren’t expecting, or have come off a diagnosis of infertility and quite likely a merry-go-round of fertility treatments and what-not.  Both sides are in their own versions of crisis – one way or another.  They turn to adoption agencies for knowledge, and we all know there are good ones to very bad ones out there.  I know I am not the gentlest person in the world, but I am trying to stop and gauge where they are in the learning curve.  Many wouldn’t know an ethical adoption from a baby-selling adoption when they start out – all they hear is the pro-adoption publicity message that every adoption is wonderful, and whatever their adoption agency has told them.  Many don’t even realize there is a slippery slope to go down (not that there is much father to go in the race to the bottom in today’s adoption). 

To understand all the pit-falls, the challenges in adoption, and to the parties in adoption takes time, and often it is a penny dropping here, and there, before they fully understand.  Now, I won’t give them a free pass once they have been around a while – no excuse for ignorance of ethics or the effects of adoption, when you have a wealth of information at your finger-tips.  No excuse for bad behavior like not keeping promises, or doing something you know is unethical, or wouldn’t pass the “would I want someone to do that to me” test.  But brand-new – they need grace extended. They need someone to gently point out the challenges and ethical problems they don’t see, and the long-term ramifications of going along with things that you wouldn’t allow to happen to a dog in a puppy-mill – if you were aware of it.

One of the reasons I insist on trying to doing your best to be polite in the comments…something I free strongly about.  Another reason, I don’t need the stress of people trying to stir-the-pot or just being angry… 

I do love comments, to hear other views, have debates, just not angry, nasty debates…we all have a lot to learn from one another, and good discussions in comments create that environment.


Posted by on December 7, 2013 in Adoption


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14 responses to “Rambling post on giving newbies a break…

  1. cb

    December 7, 2013 at 10:35 pm

    It’s funny you bring that up because I was explaining to someone on a blog the other day that when one is on forums, one tends to realise that a lot of times the newbie PAP is someone who
    is excited about adoption being a way to build their family thus the best way to respond is just to gently and kindly remind them that there is a human story behind all adoptions. They usually appreciate it and many do evolve in their thinking. I’ve been pleasantly surprised a couple of times lately where I have given my views on a forum and a couple of posters have thanked me for my views even though it is not somethingt hey probably really wanted to hear.

    It can be hard because on the abovementioned forum, there is so much talk on the best way to get the ideal child that one can sometimes feel like one is a product and our mothers suppliers. When it gets out of hand, I find that if one gently reminds them that that isn’t the case, they can often stop and think about what they are saying.


    • TAO

      December 7, 2013 at 10:39 pm

      Exactly Caths – adoptees are real human beings and it is helpful to bring that point back to the front of the conversation…when they are caught up in their own needs. We bleed too, our mothers and fathers bleed too…


    • gsmwc02

      December 9, 2013 at 7:45 pm

      LOL, the timing of Tao’s piece is ironic based upon our discussion last week on Dawn’s site.

      Depending upon how a couple or person came to pursuing any type of adoption it’s sometimes easy for them to forget that the child they adopt will one day become an adult. It’s not intentional in most cases. In the case of infertility it catches a person/couple so off guard and messes with their head to a point that they are more focused on becoming parents than the actual parenting itself. Hearing the voices of adoptees IMO is vital before one proceeds with pursuing adoption especially the voices that might be hard for the PAP to hear. In the long run they’ll benefit and be a better parent for their child.

      To be honest I don’t blame adoptees for sometimes having the anger towards PAPs and/or APs with how dismissive they can be. Yes, I admit in my interactions with You, Tao and others over the last few months that I’ve been nasty and dismissive. A big part of it was dealing with my own grief. But still that was no excuse for not being more respectful of others. For that I apologize to you and others I have offended. As I said to you on Dawn’s blog the interaction on Claudia’s blog in September opened my eyes and taught me that I need to back off at times.

      Anyways I wish you and your families the best during this holiday season.


      • TAO

        December 10, 2013 at 1:11 pm

        No worries Greg…


  2. eagoodlife

    December 8, 2013 at 6:05 am

    For a moment there I thought you were going to post about newbie adoptees – those new to the forums and groups who haven’t yet found out how tough it can be, how critical others are and how insistent some are on the one-size fits all adoption they seem to think we all have experienced. My plea sometimes for clemency when a newbie asks the difficult questions, is angry and suddenly has the insights, is so often rejected and the newbie treated hashly. But no you were writing of those who adopt and wish to adopt, what a very complicated, uncompromising and horrible place is revealed to them and what a shock it is for some who truly thought they were doing good works, saving an orphan and giving a child a home. They do need reminding that we are real people with real lives and real parents.


    • TAO

      December 8, 2013 at 1:18 pm

      Von – you are right there are adoptee newbies as well – whose entire view of adoption is their adoption. To try to get them to understand that no two experiences are the same and that there is a way bigger adoption world (and it’s dark underbelly) out there that we need to be aware of. They do need to be treated gently too. I do think as long as they have an open mind the transition to awareness of the differences is quicker.

      I do think if the goal is to create a humanity first mindset in adoption – where adoption is really seen as the last choice for a child because there is a real cost to the child, instead of the first go-to best solution – then we have to work on those participating and with words they will hear – make it real to them. I keep thinking about the mindset of the article from the “Christian Post” linked in the my last post – the mindset that adoption is the wholesale answer to all single mothers just keeps lingering. We can’t let that mindset become the norm again.


  3. Barbaloot

    December 8, 2013 at 3:55 pm

    While I totally understand the frustration of someone warning yet another newbie PAP about the ethical swamp ahead, the best way to actually reach people is to be gentle and respectful. Blast them with frustration and they simply stop listening and write you off. Be kind and acknowledge their good intentions, and they tend to listen. Personally I wish all PAPs had to a couple years on adoption boards and blogs before even choosing what type of adoption (if any) to pursue. And yeah, I did that – close to four years scraped the surface enough to give me some clue to avoid certain situations. I think there is a lot more info out there now, but also a lot more (very justified) anger.


    • TAO

      December 8, 2013 at 9:16 pm

      Barb, Love your idea of having to be on forums and blogs before you make any choices, but that can be useless when it is rah-rah go for it attitudes – especially what seems to happen on FB pages. Message boards seem to have a better mix of attitudes so hopefully people hear all sides. I used to read an Ethiopian message board and they had some amazingly hard topic conversations (of course some got upset), but I think that even those who refused to believe would have been better able to make sure a child they adopted actually had no other options, whether they worried about it is another story.

      By the way, if you pop back – did your Butterfly bushes you started take off (never can remember the name Budlieghs???).


    • DeeDee

      February 21, 2014 at 11:55 pm

      My issue isn’t that newbie PAPs *don’t* know about the ethical swamps they are wading into — it is that they *could* have known, but simply didn’t want to.

      APs like Barb, who could have googled “adoption ethics” or asked questions or actually watched “Fly Away Children”, which was produced *years* before she adopted her son.

      While it’s true that you catch more flies with honey… you CANNOT make folks “get it”. No matter what dulcet tones are used to attempt to explain things to PAPs, they simply do not, cannot, frankly, will not “get it” if they don’t want to.

      My issue is APs like Mary McBride/, who encountered fraud during her first Ethiopian adoption, was appalled, hired an investigator but went right on ahead and adopted a *second* Ethiopian child! Only after the second kid was safely in the US did she start writing heartfelt posts on the evils of corruption and how the ET adoption program should be shut down. Ditto Scoopy/ And the vast majority of APs.

      How do you get PAPs to care about ethics before they become APs?!??


      • TAO

        February 22, 2014 at 4:17 am

        DeeDee…I have talked to Barb a fair amount and completely believe her when she said this above: ” Personally I wish all PAPs had to a couple years on adoption boards and blogs before even choosing what type of adoption (if any) to pursue. And yeah, I did that – close to four years scraped the surface enough to give me some clue to avoid certain situations. I think there is a lot more info out there now, but also a lot more (very justified) anger.”

        I don’t know you or even if you haven any role in adoption. I lived adoption for decades before I found out that there was a dark underbelly. I talk about it now. We all do what we can.


  4. Don't We Look Alike?

    December 8, 2013 at 8:05 pm

    This is not only a good post but has really good comments, too. It’s true that you get more flies with honey, which is to say that an angry tone of judgment directed at somebody who doesn’t know why they are being judged isn’t going to educate. My own learning curve has occurred more dramatically since I started blogging and reading about adoption online than before. And in the days before the internet, I only knew what we were told by our agency and by looking at society’s constructs and by using common sense and sensitivity–a strange mix, for sure. The difficult part of educating “newbies” to adoption is that both PAPs and BMs are so caught up in their own emotions. It might be one of the most emotional times of their lives when they come to adoption. It’s hard for people to hear when they have all those emotions flaring up in their ears.


    • TAO

      December 8, 2013 at 9:30 pm

      Thanks Luanne – I have a weird way of connecting my non-adoption life and thoughts into adoption thoughts but it seems to work sometimes. I actually think that the second phase (fertility treatments) is a cause of the refusal to hear – by that time they are just so “done” emotionally and financially that they don’t want to hear anymore (not to mention all the hormones that your body has been subjected too). Before all that it was perhaps a cleaner decision and more time to consider what you were doing.

      I think you adjusted very quickly on-line but you also were well past the insecurities…and from the sounds of it your husband has conversations about the hard stuff.

      All I really want to do is make it better for the next generation of adoptees and that means creating awareness that ethics matter greatly, and only children who truly need adoption should get adopted – because we aren’t to the place where no one needs to be adopted anymore.

      Still not saying all that right – have been dealing with insomnia again…


  5. cb

    December 9, 2013 at 9:01 am

    What can be harder to overcome are the “mystical newbies”, eg the ones who consider the expectant mother to be a vessel used by God to get their baby to their “rightfrul place”. It is made even harder by he fact that for these mystical APs, this is a win/win situation because they then end up with an adoptee who thinks the same thing as them.

    I do also realise that as a “less than ideal” adoptee in the minds of some online APs, any advice I am likely to give is suspect and thus those APs are likely to do the opposite to what I suggest lol.

    One thing one also has to be aware of when it comes to adoption is that the less time one has spent in the “adoption world”, the more of an expert one is and thus jaded old adoptees and first mothers are often told they know nothing about adoption by people who have only just starting researching ado0ption.


  6. eagoodlife

    December 10, 2013 at 12:00 am

    How true cb! However those adoptees often go on to think for themselves in time and can become ‘angry’ about adoption and what has been done in the name of ethics, good practice and ‘orphan saving’ etc.



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