I want to talk about the impact for the one adopted to be subjected to the never-ending promotion of adoption in the media, the message it sends to their friends, families, professionals and even co-workers. It’s nigh impossible to avoid, regardless of how much you try to tune it out.
It starts early in the journey for the one adopted with the comments made throughout childhood on being lucky and how you must be so grateful. At points in time it may be cool to the child, but other times, it can become downright obnoxious, wearying, or dehumanizing. Even now, I hear the same message when I disclose I’m adopted, and when I hear it, I’m reminded that I’m not allowed to just be my parent’s child, I owe them for saving me.
Today’s hyper-focus on adoption stories in the news is so overwhelming compared to my day, from the celebrity that adopted and just how beautiful it is, to that previously unknown family who details the gritty details of their adoption and it goes mainstream. I pity the adoptees growing up today in this era on having to deal with it, and more so for those whose parents just had to tell their story that also included all the salacious details that ensured it would go viral.
The adoption reunion stories are the flip side that also seem to be click-bait for news outlets. Some adoptees have started to push-back and call it reunion porn, not a term I’m comfortable with, yet it’s also an apt term and I can’t come up with another that drives the point home as well. I’d also say the term applies to the adoption stories that become click-bait. With both adoption and reunion stories, the adoptee (and adoptee’s reading) are reminded by strangers either how lucky they are and must be grateful, or the reverse, how they need to consider how their folks feel, or how ungrateful they are.
Even as someone who enjoys writing about adoption, and being adopted, I’ve hit the wall on how adoption is covered on both adoption and reunion stories. How the public thrives on reading the feel-good juicy stories, how widely they share and how that feeds life into the old tropes, promotes the saviorism trope of the adoptive parent and outright glosses over any of the hard parts of being adopted. None of these adoption stories help the adoptee, just the opposite because when adoptees try to gain public support for the real challenges they face, those stories contain no gossipy feel-good-story, so the public just doesn’t care.
Next time you are just itching to share that beautiful fluffy adoption story, just say no, you aren’t going to promote an adoptee’s story being used as click-bait.