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.”