Friday, January 27, 2012
Ears open, Mind Engaged, Mouth Shut.
Do you know what are my favorite kind of adoption blog posts to read? Referral posts!
I love it when a blogger I've been following for months finally gets the long-awaited email containing pictures of their child-to-be. Or when the social worker calls while the adoptive parents are at work, or in Target.
I love the carefully cropped photos that only show a smile, a chubby baby foot, big eyes with impossibly long lashes. I love seeing older adoptive siblings proudly clutching photos of their little brother or sister. So much hope, so much emotion, so much joy.
Joy for the adoptive family of course.
Because the blogs are almost always written from the adoptive parent perspective. I mentioned in an earlier post that in the adoption community people refer to the "triad" as being adoptive parent/first parent/adoptee. I also mentioned in my last post how much privilege is involved in being an adoptive parent.
Can you guess which member of the triad has the loudest voice on the interwebs? Which member has historically controlled the public representations of adoption?
Adoptive parent blogs are legion. Seriously: google "adopting from..." (take your pick: Korea, China, Ethiopia, Foster Care) and you will come up with a jillion adoptive parent blogs.
Adult adoptee blogs and first parent blogs are far fewer.
You would think that as adoptive parents we would actively seek out the voices of adults who shared the same experiences and backgrounds as our children not-born-to-us.
Sometimes we do.
And we read them until we come across something that we don't like. Something that makes us uncomfortable. Something that challenges our ideas of what our own children will think and feel when they are adults. Many times these challenging thoughts express a level of discomfort with the adoption industry. Or a level of preference for children being raised by their original parents/in their countries of origin.
These criticisms often strike at our tender good intentions. We denounce them as the rantings of an "Angry Adoptee" (this is the adoptive parent version of the boogeyman).
We become defensive:
"Look, my adoption was ethical. I know this because the agency showed me a video/the relinquishment papers/I met the first family."
"I'm sorry you were told to act American. In my family we celebrate lunar New Year! My child attends culture camp once a year and language school every Saturday."
"I fully support my child searching for her birth family. When she's 18 we will absolutely help her with that."
"Would you rather you were raised in an orphanage?"
And in our defensiveness we push away the words and the message. It is so hard to sit with our discomfort. It is so crucial to sit with our discomfort. Because that tiny bit of discomfort? It is a glimpse at what a lifetime of marginalization feels like. A passing glance at the realities our children and their first families face.
We need to read these blogs and we need to hear these voices. And you know what else we need to do?
We need to SHUT UP.
We need to sit and listen. Our voices do not need to be a part of every conversation surrounding adoption. They don't. Because our voices? They wrote the conversations surrounding adoption.
Think about it: adoptive parents get heaped with praise for taking in orphans. Birth parents get scorn and shame for relinquishing their children. For getting pregnant in the first place. Adoptees are expected to be grateful for their entire lives. To be eternally vigilant to the notion that they were saved.
I challenge you, my fellow adoptive parents, to seek out the uncomfortable stuff. To hear it and not comment. To process it and live with it.
Ears Open, Mind Engaged, Mouth Shut.
(for starters--add your favorites in the comments)