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Social media versus in-person interactions…

06 Jan

I liked a post on HuffPost by a 17 year-old adoptee.  Absolutely thrilled that we are starting to hear from this current generation of adoptees.  The post addresses questions that adoptee’s get asked.  I liked her replies, and believe that she really took the time to craft her words to show when it’s okay, what’s borderline, and what crosses the line, for her.

The timing of this HuffPost article 5 Questions Adoptees Are Tired Of Being Asked (note most titles are not by the author) also leads into something that seems to be an ongoing contradiction on-line.  Not a contradiction by the author, just something I mull on every time someone gets upset with an in-person interaction.  People who use social media and seem very comfortable speaking without filters, some seem to spill a lot about their children, adoption, their lives, and yet, get offended when someone asks them a similar question at a park, church, work, the check-out line.  The nerve!  The same contradiction applies to being offended when someone offers a differing opinion about what they are doing in-person, yet are willing to give theirs anytime on Social Media…

Why is it okay to share in-depth details, offer differing opinions on-line to primarily strangers, but turn around and say it’s wrong for in-person strangers to ask them, or offer differing opinions on something face to face?

Thoughts?

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19 Comments

Posted by on January 6, 2015 in Adoption

 

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19 responses to “Social media versus in-person interactions…

  1. Jess

    January 6, 2015 at 8:38 pm

    I’m often appalled at what people will put out there. Mothers saying they’re glad their reunion tanked and the adoptee no longer comes around. APs betraying the privacy of their adopted children. People raging, overgeneralizing, projecting, defending, preaching. And much of the time, it’s possible to figure out who is being talked about–it must be devastating to know that your own family thinks so little of you that they would a) exploit you for a blog post, b) happily tell the world what a treacherous bitch you are. I think it calls us up short when someone says this stuff, whether it’s criticism or a super rude question, in real life. But the fact is, the real-life version is how it actually feels to the person on the receiving end, whether it’s real-life or virtual.

    I know what you mean about turning the tables. the worst offenders get super-indignant when challenged.

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    • TAO

      January 6, 2015 at 8:44 pm

      Thanks Jess – pulls you up short is a good way to put it and the hypocrisy aspect. Surprised this post made sense – I’m exhausted today and words aren’t working very well.

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  2. Proudly Anonymous

    January 6, 2015 at 8:46 pm

    I.T.A.

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  3. cb

    January 6, 2015 at 10:05 pm

    Mei gave some very thoughtful answers. It is particularly hard for transracial adoptees where people are more likely to ask those questions “out of the blue” – people see that they don’t look like their parents and then think it is OK to ask those questions without any real thought as to whether the adoptee is willing to answer them.

    She did say further down: “I think its perfectly acceptable to ask these kinds of questions IF the adoptee has opened up the conversation and feels comfortable”

    Because most of the time in the last 5 years since reuniting I am the one that brings up my adoption, I don’t mind those particular questions because I have “opened up that conversation” – no. 3 in particular would be natural in that context. At the beginning of my reunion with bfamily when I was telling people about my “road trip” to meet them, a few people did open up about their adoption connections so I admit that I did ask the adoptees whether they themselves had any desire to meet their bfamily – however, if they said no, I didn’t push them any further. I just shared my own experience.

    I do admit that I would be annoyed if people assumed that I must speak a particular language, something that at least non-TRA adoptees don’t have to put up with.

    As for “why were you adopted”** as she points it out, the person is asking “why were you relinquished/how did you end up in the orphanage/why didn’t they want you” and that is something that is very hard to answer. Many of us will never know our full story – in my case because of my bmom having passed away so long ago – I try to get around it by talking from a historical view about what things were like in general, rather than talk about my situation (because I don’t really know the answer).

    **If they wanted to know why our parents adopted us, they wouldn’t ask “why were you adopted”, they would be more like to ask “why did your parents adopt you?”. I don’t say much there either – I can just give the one word answer of “mumps” and that answers that question lol.

    To me the statements are worse – eg “Aren’t your parents wonderful for adopting you all” (our parents adopted 3 times) – which makes us sound like burdens. They wanted 4 children and that’s what they got. There is also the “You can be happy that you were raised by parents who wanted you – not every kid gets that”. One thing one does discover when one shares that one is adopted is that the biggest “experts” on adoption are those with the least experience with it lol. People always think that they are imparting some knowledge that we might never have considered – in fact, we may have moved on from that “knowledge” a long time ago and are looking at things in a different light.

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    • TAO

      January 6, 2015 at 10:41 pm

      I thought she did a really good job explaining – better than I could do…

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      • Jess

        January 7, 2015 at 2:38 am

        She did a brilliant job. Seems very grounded for 17.

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      • Beth

        January 10, 2015 at 12:22 am

        I thought the same, way to go Mei!

        I had another weird in person thing happen this week. Was stuck in some all day farm related meetings with a few I had never met. Met another adoptee, who first outed herself to me, alone away from the group. She had just reunited so was about to pop – I get it. Not sure how she picked me out of the crowd LOL I asked before I fessed up, she said I seemed to be “relatable” not real sure what that means.

        Anyway, told her “me too”. After a talking for a while about it, before we went back to the group I said, you know if you mention your adoption/reunion in the group there will be “those” questions and comments right?
        She said, nooooo, really?
        I went thru the comments for her to expect…
        She said, wow. really? You think?
        I said, Oh yeah, bet on it.
        I also said, you can bet if I mention I just got the news that a real estate sales deal I’ve been working on for a long time just closed while I was at lunch, yippee, that someone will ask me how much money I made…

        So excited smarty pants 🙂 decides to talk to me about her reunion, loud enough for others to hear that she was an adoptee in reunion. I eventually fessed up too.

        The expected comments and questions came quickly:
        I wish I was adopted
        Did you find out why your mother gave you away?
        What do your parents think about it?
        I’m glad you’ve been able to get past that and can be happy now.
        I did not know that an adopted person’s birth certificate was changed and sealed.
        There were some other regular comments that I forget now
        Oh, you’ve actually met them and plan to see them more? Oh.
        Eventually an adopted parent bravely outed themselves
        Then a short tale about an adoptee from someone who knew someone who knew an adoptee.

        Then a first for me, the adopted parent says; You really seem to have your “head on straight” about it all, I’d love to talk to you some more, I’m so glad you aren’t an “angry adoptee”, that’s all I can find online, it’s useless to try to talk to any of them.

        Yes, of course I said; ahhh but I am an “angry adoptee”
        She says; you don’t seem angry.
        I said; I am saying the exact same things here that I type online –
        the same things my online adopted buddies type.
        What did you ask about online? What answers were/are you looking for?
        My fee is a lot cheaper in person than online 😉 And could you go tell everyone online that I don’t seem angry?! LOL

        Then I told of how excited and happy I was for my clients that their deal finally closed, whew, yay.
        Then Bob asked me how much I made.
        Then I asked Bob what his gross income for 2014 was.
        Then everybody laughed
        Then my new friend mentioned how I had called it all. arrgg.
        I guess it takes painful practice.
        Strange day.

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  4. cb

    January 6, 2015 at 10:24 pm

    “then in my most utmost Australian accent, I said, “I’d like to get a hazelnut latte please”

    Although this is not adoption-related, the above does remind of this ad that showed in the 90s:

    where certain assumptions were made from the girl’s appearance.

    Also, everyone always assumes that if one is a transracial adoptee, then they must be internationally adopted. A friend’s daughter is of Vietnamese descent so it is quite probable that she has had people ask whether she was adopted from Vietnam, whereas in fact, she was adopted in Australia – btw the friend considers both herself and her child’s bmother to both be just her child’s mothers – no prefixes required. .

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    • cb

      January 7, 2015 at 12:01 am

      Btw in regards to the above ad, if I were going to ask anyone on the video where they were from, it would be the man – he sounded like a Kiwi to me.

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    • Jess

      January 7, 2015 at 2:36 am

      Perfect. Every Canadian immigrant’s thoughts.

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      • Jess

        January 7, 2015 at 2:37 am

        I should have said “child of immigrants”.

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  5. TAO

    January 6, 2015 at 10:43 pm

    Someone left a comment that is sitting in moderation that said I.T.A. – that comment isn’t enough for me to feel comfortable approving – I have no clue what it means. Please expand…

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  6. cb

    January 6, 2015 at 10:54 pm

    “Why is it okay to share in-depth details, offer differing opinions on-line to primarily strangers, but turn around and say it’s wrong for in-person strangers to ask them, or offer differing opinions on something face to face?”

    Sometimes there can be a real defensiveness as well in their answers which often reveals more about themselves than concern about their child.

    Also, sometimes they forget that they were those “strangers” once.

    Of course some questions are totally out of line and also often the questions are asked in a way which shows a lack of manners. So those questions should be addressed accordingly.

    There is one statement that both adoptees and aparents are insulted by, but often for different reasons. The statement? “Now that you’ve adopted, you’ll probably get pregnant and have a child of your own”. Adoptees and many aparents are quite rightly insulted because it makes us sound like fertility totems (remember the “Family Troll” anyone?) and those APs feel insulted that people are assuming that is why they adopted For others, it would be an impossibility anyway and they dislike the assumption that their IF is psychological. Having said that, one should be more annoyed on behalf of their adopted child rather than being annoyed about it not being true.

    I believe that for a while back in the 60s/70s, some doctors did tell their patients to go and adopt because it might help them get pregnant – thankfully that advice is no longer given. At no time should hoping to become pregnant ever be a reason for adopting a child.

    All in all, there are many mixed messages in adoption. I don’t know about you but sometimes I read posts by PAPs on their “journey to adoption” and then read posts by other APs wondering how to explain to their child why their parents “placed them for adoption” and sometimes think that for some of those aforementioned PAPs, there is going to be a big elephant in the room when they come to answering some of those hard questions. Thus, being ethical is for everyone’s benefit, including APs.

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  7. Raven

    January 7, 2015 at 7:24 am

    Jess, I belong to some of the adoption-related groups on Facebook, and I’ve never seen a natural mother say that she’s glad her post-reunion relationship tanked. I was in reunion for over 23 years with my son, whom I relinquished in 1972 a few days after he was born. I made sure he never had to search for me, and my contact information was handed to him on the day of his 18th birthday. Two years ago at Christmas, he permanently severed our relationship…and I blame a lot of it on Facebook. I think social media is the worst thing to happen to those of us who were in long-term reunion. I’ve seen a few other mothers who had passed the 20-year mark in the post-reunion relationships with their sons and daughter go through the same exact experience I did. None of them were glad their reunions tanked. Sometimes there’s a temporary feeling of relief in cases where cruelty and abusive behavior are being directed at the mother for a long period of time. But that relief wears off after a few days and is replaced by unending grief and desolation.

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    • Jess

      January 7, 2015 at 2:25 pm

      Don’t go on Facebook but I’ve seen it on one or two blogs. I simply don’t believe that any reaction in adoption is universal, and I have heard mothers say they are glad they no longer have to deal with the adoptee.

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  8. Paige Adams Strickland

    January 8, 2015 at 5:32 pm

    Wow! Love her article. She sounds more like 30-40 instead of 17. She is spot-on.

    I have seen both good and hideously trashy behavior do down on FB adoption groups. I have certain ones I avoid. I joined them to hopefully market my book to an adoptee audience by being involved, but they turn on each other over little, pointless things and all want to play the victim. They only vent, and I quickly learned they do not want advice or to look on the bright side. They also are huge word-police, so you have to walk on eggs when you do speak up. Ugh! Sadly these are the people who want their rights and access to records but make the rest of us look like sad, whiny brats. No one’s going to listen to them, which may make it harder on those of us who are respectful and conduct ourselves in a less victimized way. Sad.

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  9. Proudly Anonymous

    January 8, 2015 at 8:02 pm

    I.T.A means I totally agree. I too am delighted to see a new generation of adopted people speaking put and totally agree that Mei does a great job of saying, firmly and respectfully, something that really cries out to be said. Thanks for linking.
    Sorry my earlier comment was disconcerting. I had written a much longer one, but the internet connection where I am is iffy at best and I was cut off before I could send.

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    • TAO

      January 8, 2015 at 8:08 pm

      Thanks for coming back – sometimes the most obvious completely escapes me. Moderation is only for the first comment…:)

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  10. valentinelogar

    January 10, 2015 at 3:43 pm

    She did quite well. This generation of adoptees face a very different set of circumstances than I did, it is interesting to see how they are handling them.

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