I’ve been re-watching the series Newsroom and the last episode I watched was where Will is in jail for contempt and is having a conversation with an imaginary cell mate. The conversation ended with Will saying McKenzie was smarter than he is, and I started thinking about gender stereotypes, marriage, biases, and how we’ve been conditioned by society that woman are the weaker sex, not as strong, brave, or smart. How I’ve dealt with that in my personal life, and yes, I’ve bought into the stereotypes and biases from time to time, or ensured I framed my words to keep ego’s intact, other times, not so much. I am still a work in progress.
The same occurs in the world of adoption and society, the stereotypes, biases, gender, and the societal conditioning to see each role in a hierarchical way, but in adoption, some roles are also reversed. It’s easy to recognise the hierarchical differences, whose voice is dominant, who gets heard the most, believed the most is at the top.
If you need an example of what I mean, take the recent bankruptcy of IAC and how the articles are framed, I’ve linked a few below. As you read, hear whose voices are being heard, quoted, who the concern is for. Whose voices are missing. If you didn’t already know, it’s the adopting parents voices being heard from, the money they are out, their dreams dashed. Almost nothing about the expectant mom’s currently matched except as the supplier of the babies the clients want. If there were any expectant mothers not matched yet, it isn’t noted. Nothing about the first mom’s whose only link to get updates on their child being gone because the adoption agency closed (mediated semi-open via updates through the agency). Nothing about adoptees who were adopted from IAC (who holds their files), their access to any non-identifying information they have a legal right to receive once they become adults, any ability to have the agency facilitate contact. First moms and adoptees might as well not exist to the public at large, except as bit players linked to the adoptive parents. And first fathers, they aren’t even mentioned, they simply don’t exist.
So that’s how adoption news is handled to the public that shapes their view on adoption. Is it any wonder then that the adopting and adoptive parents hold top-tier in the hierarchy in the adoption world too? Even the Chronicle of Social Change focused their article on IAC primarily on the adopting parents, a few mentions of the recruited birthparents, the adoptees are only referenced in regards to the supply of adoptable children.
I’d challenge you to recognize who you give the benefit of doubt to, and why, and is it just because of their place in adoption? Whose posts you share, and why, and if you do share a first mom or adoptee post, how is it received, and specifically, how did you present it? Ask yourself, does their view on adoption shape their reaction, or did your presentation shape it? We can all do better in understanding and accepting that ‘adoption’ has both good and bad in it, loss and gain, pain and joy, and I challenge all of us to recognize our biases, and consider whether they have been shaped by societal conditioning of what adoption is, or our lived experiences, or both.