Sunday, December 7, 2014

This means war?!

Imbalance of Power

I haven't been here in a while. You know how it is.... life gets in the way. There are things like survival- trying to make ends meet as a self-employed artist. It's more than a full time job. Sometimes when in survival mode that's all you can deal with. That doesn't mean I don't think about adoption and how things are going in the adoption reform movement. Oh how I wish I could be more involved. I still share articles on Facebook and comment when I can. I still read and follow what's happening. Of course there's been much more of that recently because of National Adoption Awareness Month- that dreaded month that we write about, focus on and try to use to make a difference.

If you've read here before you may know that I'm not only a first mother who lost a daughter to the adoption machine but I'm also a late discovery step-parent adoptee and I'm very proud to be associated with the Lost Daughters. Although I think and write more from the first mother perspective, my sisters there have welcomed me with open arms. I'm so very proud of my adoptee sisters and the #flipthescript campaign and the Flip the Script video that has been the talk of #NAAM. If you haven't seen it yet you must check it out.

So what got me fired up and back on the blog? The push back on #flipthescript. I just read a gem of a post by an adoptive mother. To begin, she calls the post "the war on National Adoption Month". Really? We're at war? If an adoptee talks about her experience as an adult adoptee and it doesn't conform to the industry standard of adoption propaganda, apparently thems' fightin' words. If a person who was/is adopted, talks about what it was like for her to be adopted and how complex that experience is and was for her, she's waging a war. The simple act of telling her story means she's at war? That's a bit extreme isn't it? According to the industry and it's proponents- adoption is beautiful and don't you dare say anything to the contrary. Don't you know that? Because apparently, if you talk about your own personal experience, you're making some other folks mighty uncomfortable. So uncomfortable in fact that they see it as an attack.

Her first paragraph.... and I'll answer her here since it's not likely that my comments will make it past moderation on her blog.

"Adoptees are “flipping the script” during National Adoption Month, sharing the other, unattractive side of adoption. It’s their right. I’m not an adoptee and can’t speak for them, but part of me doesn’t like seeing this opportunity of beauty turned into something that’s looked down upon."

"I'm not an adoptee and can't speak for them" Isn't that the point of flipping the damned script?? Adoptive parents and the industry professionals have had the floor for decades. It's about time the other people who live and breath adoption- the adoptees and the natural mothers- have a say. No, you're not an adoptee so you have no idea what an adoptee feels about adoption. You have hearsay, you have anecdotes by others, you have stories you've heard, you have your experience with your child who is not yet an adult with adult views. There is no triad in adoption. There are 4 sides and only 2 of them have had the country's ear until now- the adoption industry and the adoptive parents.

"Why is it beautiful? Because I can separate what my children went through, their abuse, neglect, and trauma, from their adoption. What they went through before foster care, I would compare with hell, what they went through while visiting their bio parents while in foster care wasn’t much better, but now we see new lives, new people emerging. Beauty."

What you see as beauty, your adopted child may see differently. This is beautiful for you. Maybe you can separate it but can your child? This is your child's history. For one thing... why are you sharing such personal details of your child's history with the world? This is his story, his to share when he is ready. If he's ready at all, ever. It's not up to you. It's not your life. When he is an adult, his view of adoption may be vastly different than yours and that's ok.

"That’s why “flipping the script” on adoption day is so painful. The world is taking what is often a positive event and turning the tables, focusing on those who don’t feel it was a good thing for them."

No, they're focusing on the voices of adopted people, period. That's the point. Whether that person's story is happy, sad, angry, or a mix of all of those, the point of flip the script is to give them the opportunity to use their voice and be heard- be heard without being interrupted by the people in the equation who are the beneficiaries of a corrupt and unethical system.

"Those who are "flipping the script" aren't adoptees who are happy and content with their adoption experience, they're the ones who are angered, feel like something was done to them. The ones who feel they were ripped from their first family, from their country, are hurt by positive adoption language."

Every adoption begins with loss and pain no matter how you slice it or how much positive adoption language you want to throw at it. That PAL was developed by the adoption industry and put into place for a reason- to separate mothers from their babies. That is the sole function of the new words -  to describe what is a tragedy in more palatable terms. 

The "angry adoptee". This is the most common argument thrown at adoptees (and mothers of loss). "You're just angry and bitter". Damn straight I'm angry. Does that mean I'm an angry person? No. My life is just fine but that doesn't mean I shouldn't talk about the experiences I've had and how they've affected me. And, under the circumstances, anger is a perfectly normal reaction to experiences that were beyond our control. We take back our control now by using that anger in a positive and constructive way. 

ALL adoptees have been taken from their original families in one way or another, whether taken forcefully because of abuse or taken from a new mother through coercion or by the courts legally severing all connection with the family through sealed birth records. As an adoptive parent you feel adoption is beautiful. That's great for you but don't diminish or dismiss what adopted people have to say about their life experience. 

"The adoptees who aren't speaking out (and far outnumber those who are calling out adoption) are the ones who are satisfied in life, the ones who accept their adoptive family as their own, ones who've found their birth family and either have a good relationship with them or have decided to let it be."

And here I just have to say- IMO- you're wrong. The vast majority of adoptees I know who are speaking out, are simply trying to make a difference for future adoptees. They ARE satisfied in life. They just want people to understand that adoption is far more complex than what the industry wants the public to believe. They're trying to balance out the narrative so it can be understood that there is more to the story than the story of the happy adoptive parents and the well payed adoption professionals.

"I don't want to belittle anyones experience, after all, it's their own. I can't speak as an adoptee. Maybe there should be separate months, one for National Adoption Month and a month for adoptees to share their feelings, like an Adoptee Awareness Month."

You want to give adoptees a month to speak? How generous. Why should we separated? Haven't we had enough separation as it is??? Hasn't the mic been monopolized by the most powerful voices already? I also deal with this idea as a mother of loss. We have "Birthmother's Day" which I refuse to acknowledge. I celebrate my motherhood on Mother's Day along with all the other mothers. I was still a mother after my daughter was taken from me and I'm still an adoptee the other 11 months of the year. Don't tell me when I can speak.