This is likely going to be fairly muddled because I don’t like to publicly call people out by name, rather just talk about why I found something problematic. So there was a blog post recently by an adoption agency that ruffled feathers (pissed off) many in the adoption community, raising my hand as one of them. The outcome, I lost the respect I’d previously held for them.
And while there were valid points made in the post, calling out behavior I wouldn’t take part in, it was both unhelpful and the words used painted adoptees and first mothers with a very wide broad-bush. And if there’s one thing adoptee’s learn quickly is that if you want to be heard, you have to define specifically what, or who, you are speaking of. That wasn’t done, at all, and I can guarantee those who (I think) you meant the message for – didn’t hear it. Those who I don’t think the message was intended for (I include myself here) are the ones you (probably) lost ground with.
I know there are some mothers and adoptees who’ve been seriously harmed by adoption. Inside that category are those who try to educate for understanding and change, others react in anger to anything adoption, others just stay silent mostly but want to be with others who experienced the same thing. What it isn’t – is a uniform group who all think alike across the spectrum and agree with how each reacts, i.e., they are human beings too.
There’s also other mothers and adoptees that have also been challenged in different ways by adoption, they too break down into similar (but different) subsets. From speaking up gently hoping to be heard for the next generation, to those more forceful but still being able to be heard by many in the adopting/adopted category, to those who remain silent but agree. This is the broad category I fit into.
There are people who are anti-adoption, they have the right to be against adoption, their experience is one that should not exist, but does, maybe not as frequent as in the past, but serious harm still happens.
There are others (like myself) who have been challenged by being adopted, struggled, and still struggle at times. We would prefer adoption to be rare, but recognise that it is also necessary sometimes, and that how you adopt matters the most (ethics and fair play). Then there are others who never found an adoption they didn’t just love.
And lets also be real here – there are some prospective adoptive parents who make incredibly crass and stupid statements, who, regardless of the words used to caution them, choose to remain solely in some fluffy cloud where they are saving that brand-new baby who will never, ever, feel like adoptees today do, and they just love “their birthmother for choosing life and them”. Others who offer similar messages while also fundraising the entire cost of adoption. If only they’d do some research, educate themselves on adoption and get into some deep thought on all that adoption is and act accordingly with dignity and a reasoned understanding of all that adoption is, what it isn’t.
Back to the problem with the blog post is that the words used didn’t allow for the wide variety of feelings of adoptees and first parents, how they act, the choices each has made on how to speak.
“Disgruntled Adoptees” is the term used in the post for adoptees.
Tell me how that doesn’t paint with a broad brush every one of us who speak up about the challenges of being adopted, the current adoption practices, the ethical failings we see in adoption, the lack of any real effort to ensure education on adoption, best practices, impact on the one adopted, the added challenges in transracial adoption be required by all adopting. To those who want to ensure the professionals be held to high standards in a practice that makes it’s living off an adoption happening, all the way to those on the other end of the spectrum, those who want adoption abolished.
I did send a private message that also called out the privilege of not feeling the need to couch the words used to define exactly who you were speaking of in order to be heard. It was ignored, and a week later, it’s still bothering me, so here I am. Words matter, you failed, and maybe that was your intent, to mollify the adopting/adoptive parents that you have their back. If you wanted to be heard by those who you were specifically railing against, you failed, spectacularly, and I suspect you just made it worse.