Two thoughts intersected this morning…

27 Apr

Reading a post on naming your child (adoption) and one commenter shared she has two close adopted relatives who weren’t named at birth.  A second commenter brought up that the mother of their child named her child, but somehow, the original birth certificate only said Baby Girl Surname.  The response by the first commenter was that maybe mistakes happened, but neither of her adopted relatives wanted to know anything about their birth families.

The above conversation collided with the article I read after…

A friend’s book is listed (and deserves to be listed) on an article titled “11 Great Adoption Books You Should Read”, and yet, when I scrolled through the other titles of those 11 Great Adoption Books, it was glaringly apparent whose voice was heard and whose wasn’t, despite one book written by adoptive parent author who has only been an AP for a minute.  It confirms that despite all the progress being made in adoptee voices being heard, the adoption story, and by default – the adoptees story, is told through the lens of the adopting parents.  The adoptive parent voices are valued, read, promoted, and I often wonder if they even know that adoptees write too, you can find a comprehensive list at Adoptee Reading that is filled with many adoptee (and some not-adopted) books here.

How these two intersect?

The first adoptive parent assuming and speaking for her adopted relatives having no interest in their birth families, whether because:

  • a) they’ve never told her or talked about it to her so assuming they have no interest,
  • b) they told her what she wanted to hear especially seeing as she was adopting,
  • c) they truly don’t care,
  • d) they know from what has been said by family that “good adoptees” have no interest in their birth family,
  • e) they don’t want to seem disloyal to their adoptive family so they never speak about any feelings they have.

And those assumptions above are from many voices sharing these exact reasons why they never share their feelings with relatives.  And people adopting have tended to share this type of tidbit about their adopted relatives, sort of, see – some adoptees (whatever), but in reality they are speaking for the one adopted, and making their story fit the narrative they need to hear, regardless of validity.

The second – the lack of awareness of missing voices when it’s titled “11 Great Adoption Books You Should Read”.  Now, it’s likely adoption dot com created the title, which at the same time, makes it worse.

When you only listen to one group out of three groups that intersect and are required for adoption to exist, the lack of inclusion keeps the rigid stereotypes of adoption, adoptees and first parents firmly in place.  It allows others to tell the story of the adoptee or first parent without any counterbalance to bring to light or challenge the assumptions made.

And this seems to be the perfect time to link the Ted Talk by Chimanda Ngozi Adichie – “The Danger of the Single Story”.  Regardless if you’ve watched before, watch again, listen closely, I hear something new that makes me think every time I watch it.

“It is impossible to talk about the single story without talking about power. There is a word, an Igbo word, that I think about whenever I think about the power structures of the world, and it is “nkali”. It’s a noun loosely translates to “to be greater than another”. Like our economic and political worlds, stories too are defined by the principal of nkali: how they are told, who tells them, when they are told, how many stories are told, are really dependent on power.”



Posted by on April 27, 2018 in Adoption, adoptive parents


Tags: , , ,

22 responses to “Two thoughts intersected this morning…

  1. Dannie

    April 27, 2018 at 4:32 pm

    When I adopted E, the best book my Social Worker gave me (free btw, I got a lot of them for free, our county was good like that) was “In their own Voices” Transracial Adoptees tell their stories. Some stories shocked me, some stories made me sad, some were very pragmatic, some were more emotional….honestly a good read. I just saw that the author also made one “in their parents voices” reflections of raising transracial adoptees. I’d be interested to re-read the first book and read the second book and compare.

    Liked by 1 person

    • TAO

      April 27, 2018 at 4:50 pm

      You had a good social worker – many voices make you aware in case you see any similarities in your child.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Dannie

        April 27, 2018 at 4:53 pm

        yes truly, I did enjoy that there were 20-25 different stories and their experiences. Also how a person like me, while hispanic, visually very light skinned, could take things for granted that may impact my child.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Dannie

    April 27, 2018 at 4:54 pm

    just also finished the TED talk and it was amazing. I’m going to send the link to my supervisor this summer as a possible clip she may want to show us the first day of staff meetings. Very relevant.


    • TAO

      April 27, 2018 at 4:55 pm

      It truly is amazing – it applies over such a broad spectrum of situations. I hope she shows it.


  3. Lara/Trace

    April 27, 2018 at 4:58 pm

    I think many APs are ready to read books on what an adoptee feels, generally. I have had adoptees read everything, including anthologies of adoptee voices but when I ask if they shared the book with their adoptive parents, they say no. There is still a stigma, Tao. A big one. I would not have wanted my a-mom to read my memoir.


    • TAO

      April 27, 2018 at 8:30 pm

      I’m not sure if I wrote a story of my life that I’d give it to my folks either if they were still living – I salute any that can. I see myself now able to be more authentic than I ever was before they passed on this experience – but it’s more of a I’d never want them to feel bad thing.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Tiffany

    April 27, 2018 at 6:08 pm

    I don’t read any AP blogs regularly. A couple I will visit when I think about it, and I enjoy reading them, but the blogs I click on a daily basis are run by adoptees and first moms. I also listen to a podcast by an adoptee (Adoptees On, and I highly recommend it if you don’t already know about it). I’m really not terribly interested in what adoptive parents have to say, tbh, even good ones. I have such limited bandwidth for information given all that is going on in my life, and needed to be educated on a million things as a parent, so my time devoted to adoption concerns must be focused on the voices who understand it best: adoptees.

    I honestly don’t get APs who don’t want to just listen to adoptees as much as humanly possible when those are the voices of their children….

    With our new push to embrace diversity, I’m feeling like including adoptees in this push has been forgotten. I still feel like so many of the old rules and logic continue to apply. I just went on my older daughter’s field trip yesterday to see Seussical, and I was appalled by the negative adoption undertones in it. It has been a long, long time since I have seen this musical, so I guess my awareness has just changed because I found it so offensive. I was really glad my younger daughter (who is adopted) had a field trip last week so her class decided not to do this one. I don’t think she would have consciously picked up on it, but I do think unconsciously, she would have absorbed the throwaway attitude of the “birth mom” and the weird “as if born to” change of the baby to be like it’s adoptive parents. It was really offensive, at least to me. (Honestly, I had forgotten what total jerks most of the characters are in that musical…. it’s really not a nice one. It debuted in 2000, but the content is really dated, IMO.)

    Liked by 1 person

    • TAO

      April 27, 2018 at 6:57 pm

      I’m so out of touch I’ve never even heard of Seussical – will have to read what it’s about. The adoption community has always been AP centric and I can’t see it changing all that much, but it still upsets me greatly.


      • Tiffany

        April 27, 2018 at 8:20 pm

        I absolutely can see it changing. I see so much changing in the world, and I don’t see why views on adoption can’t change also through us pushing, not giving in, and more and more APs becoming enlightened. I won’t lose hope that it can get better, and that things can change.

        You can probably youtube a full performance of it by someone. The characters at the center of that storyline are Horton, Gertrude, and Mayzie LaBird.


  5. maryleesdream

    April 27, 2018 at 10:14 pm

    The adoption community has always been, and will continue to be adoptive parent centric, because they pay the bills. They are the engine that runs the machine. The adoption community is theirs.

    The rest of us are just producers, or merchandise.

    Liked by 4 people

    • Tiffany

      April 27, 2018 at 11:02 pm

      I disagree. If that is the case, then there is no point to any attempts to reform adoption because you are already saying it will never change. All the words and efforts are for naught. And that would apply to any wrong in society, such as sexism or racism. Men certainly have a dominant role, and whites even more so. It does not mean that there is no point in trying to enact change- what we have learned is these movements need allies. APs need to become allies of adoptees and first parents and enable and lift up those voices and quiet our own. I believe this is possible.

      Desmond Tutu said “My father always used to say, “Don’t raise your voice. Improve your argument.” Good sense does not always lie with the loudest shouters, nor can we say that a large, unruly crowd is always the best arbiter of what is right.”

      Liked by 2 people

      • maryleesdream

        April 28, 2018 at 2:09 am

        I hope you are right, but I can’t see it. You are a rare adoptive parent. I’m 55, and I don’t think I’ll live to see real change in the adoption industry.

        Just look at any adoption agency website, or Bravelove and you’ll see the sickening truth.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Tiffany

          April 30, 2018 at 5:24 pm

          Maryleesdream, I’ve been thinking about this all weekend. I understand (completely) the feeling of discouragement, and perhaps it is simply a privileged perspective and position on my part that allows me to continue to have hope for change. I believe it is changing, slowly, and we can continue to make further inroads. I know that sometimes, I occasionally interact with someone who doesn’t totally dismiss what I have to say about adoption. Sure, I do also interact with people who don’t want to hear it or get angry with me, but I also experience some “I had no idea- that’s awful” moments with people.

          I sometimes get very discouraged with feeling that nothing will improve for minorities and women. Your comment about going to an agency website or Bravelove reminds me of reading any comments on an article about feminism or minorities or going to the reddit subpages for supremacy or incels. Those are very dark and hopeless places to visit. The election of Trump was and continues to be such a point of pure disappointment for me as I raise two girls, one of whom is a minority often disparaged by Trump. I looks around at the rise of populism and the way white supremacists are feeling brazen enough to operate in the open, and I just feel overwhelmed by helplessness. But… I have to remind myself that things HAVE improved, and things HAVE changed, and we need to keep pushing forward and making more changes happen.

          I feel the same way with adoption. It can change, and we can be the force that does it if we just keep banding together and pushing. The advent of the internet has been of such help in this area as it connects us and allows different perspectives to finally be heard. It’s so great that adoptee and first mom voices are out there now, for everyone to hear, and agencies cannot silence them.

          Liked by 3 people

          • beth62

            May 1, 2018 at 1:13 pm

            I’ve seen much change, and expect to see much more. Of course there’s always – sure things have changed, but still seem the same.

            Not really related, but could someone please tell me the word for the ism and the ist of being born, labeled illegitimate and discriminated against for it? When someone has prejudice due to it. Like sexism, sexist, racism, racist… I think my brain may be broken, I can’t come up with the word. A word for something I’ve studied in depth for so long. There must be a word, a label for the prejudiced ones – instead of the adopted ones? These three prejudices are old, things have changed greatly, in many ways, but the prejudices are still the same.


            • TAO

              May 1, 2018 at 1:29 pm

              • beth62

                May 2, 2018 at 12:58 pm

                Not really :/ That describes the poor bastards, not the prejudiced persons who would discriminate against them for their bastardism.
                Asshole is the best I can come up with this morning, but that’s pretty general. 🙂


                • TAO

                  May 2, 2018 at 1:34 pm

                  Probably so – why not just call it adopteeism?


                  • beth62

                    May 4, 2018 at 12:55 pm

                    That could work in some circles for sure. I guess what I am trying to say is, I think you found the prejudiced and discriminatory history of bastardism at that intersect.


                  • beth62

                    May 10, 2018 at 4:43 pm

                    While I’m dreaming 🙂 how about birtherism? Could add to it’s definition. That could cover everyone stereotyped, at the least, with so called questionable birth circumstances? Cause I know many dislike the b word in any form, for any reason. I’m really tired of referring to the insecurity and insanity, often just evilness, that my people have to deal with, with derogatory terms. Can you imagine saying nwordism? Nwordists? I think not.

                    Whatever it’s called, the prejudice of it is still widely accepted, even promoted in society. I’ve noticed it before, but lately it’s been in my face more than ever, plain as day. It’s not something that’s easy for a known illegitimate person, especially an Adopted one to discuss, especially with the legit.(I think it’s fair to say that most people have an understanding that most adoptees are born to single parents?). I’ve never made it far trying to discuss the similarities between legal adoption and legal slavery, even tho they are plain as day to anyone that looks openly. I’ve heard many black and African American historians compare the two, without anyone finding the need to challenge what they’ve said.
                    Easy to notice like the prejudices and stereotypes that still exist with both. People just don’t want to hear it, the negative. Most people may not want the illegits to die like in the past, but many still want them to not exist, or disappear, never be created in the first place. They are still suspect, still cause fears, and still silenced for their questionable parentage. Many I think don’t even know they are doing it, or what attitudes they have in place that cause those ideas. Ideas like, the illegitimate can’t possibly have anything legit to say, they need to behave and follow our plan, unlike their parents. They are different, just don’t know or understand that what the legit know is for the best. They must be dealt with. You can find it in IVF too, and surrogacy.

                    I see it plainly now in nearly every upsetting post typically discussed in adoption forums. Easy to see the prejudice in the awful Ethicists bright ideas shared and many of the comments he gets. I haven’t had much time to search or read much lately, there must be others talking about it tho. Maybe I’ve lost it, maybe I’ve been riding around with official Lucky Bastards too much lately, maybe I know too much of that history, but I can’t really talk about that 😉 Maybe it’s because I’ve been talking to the ancient and wise proud self proclaimed bastards. 3x Grandpa (born before Adoption became the legal thing we know it to be still today) said he caught far more hell in his day for being illegit than for being black. He said being black saved his bastard life. The white ones got sent to the hospitals nurseries, for a fee, where most of them died. And everybody knew it. He “got to” live with his grandmother, the mom who took them all in when their mothers and fathers had to ditch them and runoff to save themselves. She raised dozens of all shades, in a shack, on the edge of the swamp as he says. (it was hidden deep in the swamp, I’ve been there :/ ) He did the same for some of his grandkids and many of his greats. He warns me daily, for my own sake, as we talk about this stuff, to keep it to myself… arg, which is probably why I’m here trying to talk about it😊


              • beth62

                July 22, 2018 at 9:11 pm

                Oh, duh and doh.
                It’s sexism.


    • beth62

      May 1, 2018 at 12:35 pm

      What would it sound like if the children were the consumer and were running their consumer centric Adoption machine, with their money.
      Who would be the producer of the product, merchandise then (parents)?
      Maybe it will change when cloning becomes legal and popular.
      See, there’s always hope 🙂
      Can’t wait to see what the perfect parent could look like. I think I’d make mine look just like me! I hope that doesn’t cost extra. Maybe I could freeze my stuff and download my knowledge and memories to save so my great great great… grandkids could clone me if they need me. That would be awesome.😲

      Liked by 1 person


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