The post below is from 2018 and a lot has happened in the intervening years, especially the last couple of years. I think a refresher on this subject is necessary because I’m seeing this happen more frequently online, minor edits and formatting have changed from the original.
What made you (an AP) the expert on which adoptees can be heard?
If you know me well, the title tells you this is a post where I’m going to vent a little, blow off steam that’s been percolating for nigh onto a week.
Othering adoptees is not okay. Us old-timers can take it because we have btdt and can see what you say comes from ignorance, insecurity, or just plain old hypocrisy. Younger adoptees can’t and you are making their journey of discovery harder than it needs to be.
It doesn’t matter if the adoptee is anti or pro adoption – othering them is not okay.
Deliberately holding up your friend of a friend who is adopted and never thinks about being adopted and is too busy living her life to be one line – is not okay. Telling them adoption is so different from it was in their era (despite it being the same) is othering them. If you don’t want to hear their views, scroll on by, block them, just don’t other them. When was the last time you heard an adoptee who knew a friend of a friend who was an adoptive parent who felt the opposite to whatever you espoused and used that to shut you down and invalidate your voice? I’m not going to say that never happens, but it certainly doesn’t happen at the rate adoptive parents other adoptees in the same room happens.
And it’s not okay not only because you are pitting one adoptee against the other, you are deliberately being mean-spirited and you are missing the point completely. Being adopted and interested in adoption and engaging in adoption conversations is not something abnormal. When your life trajectory is fundamentally changed by an event it’s pretty normal to be interested in it, want to talk with others about at different points in your journey. Even as a child at camp – all the ones adopted sought each other out the first day and spent the week together because of the commonality of the shared experience, and it helped being around others adoptees. Today, there are camps designed to give space for adoptees to spend time with each other because they realized it’s good for our souls. As an adult, both the history of adoption and the current process and practices fascinate me, the areas that are better are good, the areas that have travelled down the slippery-slope make me mad. The topic fascinates me, and others like me as well, the friendships made, I value.
Your words, posture, actions in regards to discussions tell your child far more about how you personally feel about adoption, and in this case their peers, than anything else. Children pick up on everything that has anything to do with adoption, even if you don’t think they do, we do. And, if you think asking their view helps your case, regardless of how they feel at that specific age, doesn’t mean they will always feel the same. Your goal should be to be ready to walk alongside them at all points in this journey of being adopted, your role is to be neutral. If they know going in that you get you feelings hurt about anything that doesn’t laud being adopted and adoption, you won’t ever have the chance to be a safe shoulder to cry on, the person they turn to, they’ll find another shoulder or way to process their feelings.
There is nothing abnormal about adoptees talking about adoption, unless talking about being a mom in mom groups is abnormal, or talking about being an adoptive mom in an adoption group is abnormal. Or talking about any of the many life challenges and events in a group created for that purpose is abnormal.
If adoption is so beautiful, how is being defined by being adopted bad?
Ask yourself why you think that being defined by a life-altering event is bad when we are all defined by our lived experiences, the professions we choose, the lifestyle we chose, who we associate with. Ask yourself hard questions like does the reason I don’t want them defined by being adopted have anything to do with the fact that we had to adopt to become parents. If it does, you have your own work to do.
I’ll close with this: how you treat adoptees online today, is how the next generation of adoptees (your children) will also be treated. Be a leader and stand up against othering adoptees today.