Judging crediblity and worth in adoption circles

16 Jul

Mixed adoption conversations, whether it is another adoptee, a first mom or adoptive mom that bluntly asks, or hints at wanting to know if: a) you’re grateful, b) if you love your parents, c) if you’d choose to be adopted, d) who you consider to be your real parents.  Now, most aren’t that blunt, but it seems like most want to know the answers to those questions.  Almost as though, how you answer those questions / tell your story determines whether they will listen to what you have to say, or write you off, there is no middle of the road, it’s either/or, and it’s wrong.

Most adoptees I’ve spoken to have a deeply nuanced view of adoption, how could they not, they lived it.  We all have different lived experiences, but unless you sit outside the bell-curve, you have experienced both loss and gain, different degrees, but it’s a mix of both.  How we view our own adoption experience does temper our views on adoption, but seldom (if ever) on what we see as ethical or moral lapses in how adoption is practiced, or the laws in regards to adoption.  Those views are shaped by what is right or wrong and our knowledge of being part of both sides, not how close we were to our parents when we were growing up, or now.

Yet, how you respond to how those questions determines if you are accepted or rejected by the adoption community.  Whether you are accepted or rejected sometimes, maybe even often, differs based on the role the person asking the questions holds in adoption, i.e. adoptive or first parents.

It gets exceedingly tiring to see the questions posed, or the roundabout questions hidden in their comments, and then to see how they treat the person once they answer.  And, this isn’t limited to adoptees, it’s done to adoptive and first parents too.  A never-ending judgement-fest of each other, whether they measure up and meet the observers criteria about what makes an adoptee, adoptive or first parent credible, worthy to be heard.

The problem is that those questions shouldn’t be asked to start with.  For the one adopted it reduces the adoptee to a child, forever the child, never an equal in the conversation, despite being the one who lived it and with the most intimate experience of it.  I decided years ago to stop playing the game, pushing back instead.  It works.  If we’d all stop asking those types of questions and just started listening instead, we’d soon hear a more nuanced rendition of how that person feels, what’s important to them, what you have in common, and what you disagree on.

So, I’m asking you to try my strategy, don’t be the one asking, or the answerer, be the listener.  You might find that you can separate the personal stories from the non-personal adoption subject being discussed.  You can then talk about hard subjects because they aren’t personal.  You may find you agree that a practice is good (or bad) and find common ground, instead of dismissing anything said because you judged that person unworthy of listening too, based on how their personal experience measured up to what you believe acceptable as a response.

Push-back when you see it happening.  We all have unique experiences, it should be about striving to have adoption practiced from the highest ethical ground and calling out bad practices when we see them.




Posted by on July 16, 2017 in Adoption, adoptive parents, biological child


Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

9 responses to “Judging crediblity and worth in adoption circles

  1. Pj

    July 17, 2017 at 1:11 am

    Tao, this is excellent advice. Truthfully, most people are not good listeners..maybe it’s just the way society programs us today. But, yes, listening and letting people tell their story/views will open the door to meaningfull discussion about those “hard subjects”.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. cb

    July 17, 2017 at 10:34 pm

    I want adoption practices to be actually centred around the child so when I see adoption practices or HAPs/emoms centring things around those adopting, I will speak up. The assumption is then made that I could *only* be against those practices because I *had a bad experience* and thus I am them forced to put forward my credentials, eg “No, I love my family, nothing to do with them etc” however I do feel like I am selling my fellow adoptees down the river because I know that for many adoptees I know, their feelings about adoption practices is based on their notions of fairmindedness and doing what is right and that their own personal adoption situation should be irrelevant when it comes to having an opinion.

    I do sometimes think that if I had exactly the same feelings re adoption practices but my personal adoption situation had been different, eg I’d been abused by my afamily or rehomed, then no-one would listen to a word I say, and I don’t think that is fair.

    If an adoptee lists any fault of their APs, then the automatic response is “Oh, I’m so sorry you had a bad experience. I won’t be like that. Perhaps if you had ME as your parent, you would have a totally different outlook and you would rejoice in being adopted”.

    I do sometimes use some of my parents good points against some commenters, eg I think my parents actually did very well when it came to explaining things so I have been known to say things like “Well I get shocked by certain bad behaviour these days because my own parents somehow managed to do a good job explaining things 50 years ago without all of today’s education and if they could do it, why can’t today’s HAPs?”.

    To be honest, I’m not sure I would want to be some of today’s young adoptees – it seems that instead of dealing in reality in adoption, today’s adoption crowd often want to turn adoption into a “love fest”. When I read one adoption professional’s site talk about “Modern Adoption” and how “beautiful today’s open adoption stories is” (which seemed to involve a big lovefest between HAPs and emoms before and during the birth; and then after the birth, it seemed that the most common form of “open adoption” seemed to be letters pictures a year after the birth then no further contact).

    Liked by 1 person

    • TAO

      July 17, 2017 at 10:57 pm

      I know people want to know your story to assess your credibility, but if you’re telling them they are doing it wrong – do you really think they are going to believe you had a normal childhood? I think that makes them give lip-service, I don’t think they believe it because it says what they thought, did, will do – is wrong. I don’t know, really don’t know. Agree with the today’s love fest…ugh…

      Liked by 1 person

    • beth62

      July 20, 2017 at 4:46 pm

      CB, I agree, not so sure I would want to grow up now within the publically romanticized love fest that seems to be taking over everything, even if I wasn’t adopted. I look at social media stuff of many of the young mom’s I know, some adopted mom’s, so funny when I go to their house and it’s a whole different madhouse kind of thing going on LOL. A mom can dream I guess :). At least they can have it on Facebook, etc., cause those lovefest romantic worry free and clean spiritual moments are rare if ever in momland. I really can’t see how it’s helping anyone though, so fake. It depresses me, like soap operas do!

      I confess, I had some that were romanticizing growing and eating tomatoes and green beans in pictures and dreamy words. A tomato love fest. They each had less than 3 tomato plants to play with in their bug free spaces. One canned 6 pints with help from her two romanticizing friends, in the airconditioning. Instructions of how to peel and process, proud pics of cute jars with handmade labels on the pininterest set table while the ladies enjoyed a glass of iced green tea with blackberry juice and fresh mint.
      I invited them all to the farm this weekend to pick as many mater’s and beans as they want, and to help me pick as many as we can. There is a bet going, I chose 45 minutes until one runs screaming out of the field, or passes out. It’s supposed to be 100 degrees until next week, no real chance of rain. The biting and stinging bugs are happy and thriving. Me and the other totally unromantic grumpy old Weezer ladies will can as many as we can Sunday, the young women are invited too. We put up hundreds of quarts of sauce last year and even more beans. No romance there for me LOL. I picked blackberries everyday last week, enough for juice, jelly and wine (that’s a lot of blackberries, ow) one asked me if I’d been attacked by cats :).
      There is a huge black bear roaming around, easily 500 pounds+, saw him everyday last week, he shared the blackberries so it was all good. Maybe he’ll show up for tomatoes and beans too, then we can have an adrenaline filled bear lovefest. I’m used to them being around, but a big one like this makes me instantly shake like a leaf with adrenaline at the sight of him… 20-30 feet away, in an open field with no where to hide, a very primal response!

      I look forward to their blog posts and pics of “down on the farm” tho, they are hat, shoe and outfit planning today… I’m sure I will hear this, it’s said a lot.. “OMG, Mom/MzB ruins everything!” 🙂
      If they are truthful it should sound like this…OMG you gotta be insane, I never want to see another tomato again and green beans just suck! Pics of bee stings, horsefly and mosquito bites, ruined clothes, sunburn, broken backs and raw fingers, standing over hot soapy sinks full of jars, huge bubbling pots and pressure cookers, unable to stop until it’s done or all the previous hard work, time and money was for nothing. And then you still have to cook the stuff again to eat it someday. Now that’s a real love fest 😂


  3. beth62

    July 18, 2017 at 6:38 pm

    So much fear in those questions. Even if I transform into a safe cute fuzzy bunny, my answers can terrify… Then it can be fight or flight for the one with all the fearful questions.

    Pretty brave to ask tho 🙂
    Kinda like asking King Kong, Frankenstein or the scariest zombie you know, Why am I afraid of you? :/
    Why am I afraid of this safe fuzzy bunny?

    I’d run like hell too if any of them answered me, even the bunny! Pretty sure I’d run from a scary talking bunny 🙂


  4. beth62

    July 20, 2017 at 2:49 pm

    I witnessed two adult Adoptees judging each other in this way yesterday. Neither listened, both judged each other as unable to “get it” because they had different experiences. Thanks TAO, I listened and eventually called them on it, helped to note the differences and similarities between their experiences and opinions, and the conversation went in new directions from there. With more listening I found out each of them had fear with the other’s story. Fear of the unknown, what could have been, what ifs. I think many are on such shakey ground here and there, and are trying so hard to stand firm on it and survive. Different stories and opinions from others who have btdt can make it shake even more while processing it all (fitting it all in your puzzle) It’s not always easy to change your opinion, another’s differing opinion doesn’t negate yours if you are truly on steady ground with your own. If your not, it’s liable to get shakey, especially shakey if you think you are. There have been times when I was certain I was on solid Rock, then the whole mountain comes tumbling down. I’ve learned to listen more when my world shakes or rocks start falling around me, and to be willing to move to a new spot.
    I probably didn’t explain that too well.

    Liked by 1 person

    • TAO

      July 20, 2017 at 3:01 pm

      You explained and furthered my thoughts – stable you had allow others differences, shaky – you double down you are right… 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Cindy

    July 21, 2017 at 2:47 am

    Beth, I think you nailed down, with eloquence, the difficulties in sharing adoption experiences. It also well illustrates much of why the whole world seems to trip over itself when trying to relate to ‘other’. Well done.



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