I’ve posted The Danger Of A Single Story by Chimanda Ngozi Adichie every year in November since I first posted it in 2010. Listening to her talk never gets old, rather, it seems, I get something new from it every time. Perhaps why it stays relevant is that it applies to so many different areas in life for different people. Perhaps, because it’s filled with wisdom that always has value, adds value every time you hear it.
I was thinking that adoption has always promoted its own version of the single story. A story that has adjusted itself over the years, but the single story has prevailed. And, believing and holding that there is only one story, makes it dangerous in its rigidity. There is no room in its story for anything except beauty, with everyone living the best life possible. No room for the one adopted who just can’t see a way forward from their pain, let alone reach out. No room for the one whose adoptive parents should have never been approved to adopt, and made the one adopted grow up in a home filled with domestic violence, or thrown out because they are gay. No room for the adopting parents to be out of their depths, hurting and unable to reach out for so many different reasons. No room for the one adopted to be stateless and/or deported. And there is certainly no room for many parents by birth who didn’t realize what adoption would be like after they signed away their rights, or those who weren’t given a choice in the first place. There are so many different permutations to be endless that will never fit into the single story of adoption is always beautiful.
So, listen again (or for the first time) Chimanda Ngozi Adichie tell you about The Danger Of A Single Story, then listen to the many different stories of adoption this month, without requiring them to adhere to the single story that adoption is always beautiful. If you can do that, you’ll find pain, happiness, love, heartbreak, deep loss, shattered hearts, new growth, healing, togetherness, joy, and you will finally begin to understand we all have our own unique story with similarities or disparities to other stories. That is adoption, not what professionals promote it as.