Truth and Humility, 2-by-4 Version

I have recently tried nicely to make the point that adoptive parents need to put themselves last in the adoption discussion. I have tried calmly to suggest that we need to curb our tongues a bit. I've tried my best to put these thoughts out there without preaching.

But in the past week I’ve read things on blogs and forums that beg a different approach – like maybe a plank to the side of some heads.

First there was the forum thread, specifically set up to discuss heavier issues and clearly named, that crashed and burned when adoptive parents drove it off topic. And another thread that also derailed when an adoptive parent got into a “sticks and stones” kind of debate with an adoptee.

Then, there was a comment on an a-parent blog directed at a first mother that thanked her for not aborting her child, and then stated that women who “give up” their children for adoption aren't mothers.

And finally there were the comments of yet another adoptive parent to a post on a KAD blog that so disrespected the author and all adoptees that it literally stunned me. This one ended with a self-pat on the a-parent’s own back for adopting a child that had been abandoned by her “real” parents to the mercy of strangers.

Enough. Let me repeat the sentiments I shared earlier this week, this time with my 2-by-4 in hand:

  • We adoptive parents are not the stars of this show.
  • We have no right to expect to be understood by first parents or adopted people.
  • We have no right to invalidate or otherwise judge the adoption experiences of adoptees and first parents.
  • We have no right to expect respect from first parents or adopted people beyond that which civil behavior affords everyone.

And let me end with a plea to the a-parents who seem to be fueling this fray: Disrespecting those whose opinions about adoption differ from yours doesn't prove you love your children more, and listening without judgment doesn't mean you love them less.

Comments

suz said…
rut-roh. you may be opening your self up here. dawn may be the poster child for open adoption progressive moms...and she gets gawked at like she is some dangerous, but exotic, animal. you might be (if not already are) be joining her.

kidding. love it. agree. keep on roaring.
MomSquared said…
Crazy.

People believe what they want to believe. Sad, but true. Much easier to think of oneself as the savior of a baby whose real mother didn't even want him than as the beneficiary of a very sad situation.
Ann Marie said…
Hope you don't mind a comment from a total stranger. I've been reading your blog for the past few days, and am so glad I found you and your perspective. I'm a prospective a-parent (paper chase), but have to wonder given your comments whether I'm coming from another planet than the people you're describing. Having gone through the whole IF process, with the attendant pain of thinking I might not be able to parent for bio reasons, I can barely imagine the pain the first moms experience, not being able to parent for financial or societal reasons. I guess I never imagined a-parents would have any other view...how naive of me. Thanks for the eye-opening and thought provoking posts.
Dianna said…
I may disagree with some of the terminology we use in speaking about adoption, but I hope I never forget that I am the only part of the triad not experiencing an incredible loss. My job as an a-parent is to love my child (whoever she is and whereever she is from) and to respect and honor the decision of her birthmother. Keep beating with that stick... sooner or later, someone will listen. Or else they'll be hospitalized with a concussion and unable to speak :) :) :)
wavybrains said…
Thanks for this post! You made me think. Keep swinging that two by four. Those of us (like me) just starting our journey need our eyes wide open.
KT MeeHee said…
Thank you so much for validating what we adoptees have been experiencing as of late

I, too, was appalled at the chidlish way that some a-parents were reacting on the forum to adoptee perspectives (especially when they were spoken in a diplomatic manner)However, being an adoptee (*gasp, and apparently not entitled to the same sort of validity on that particular forum) I didn't feel as though I could address that situation in specific terms.

Thank you for expressing what I couldn't...
Carrie & Allan said…
Fantastic post. These incredibly important topics need to be discussed. I agree with every word you have written here and could have never said it so eloquently.
kim.kim said…
Yes indeed. Thank you. The woman who told me I'm not a mother was kind enough to explain that she's sure I'm not a bad person......after calling my daughter an "it" that is....hrmph.....
joy said…
Thank you for posting this Margie.

Sometimes I get so sick of happy amoms, and feel like every time I post something I am going to get a barrage of, "you are picking on my family, you are saying my kids are going to be screwed up for life, whah whah"

When in fact all I have done is post something from my experience.

All I am allowed to be is happy happy happy, it's psychotic.

I am supposed to be psychotically happy and drooling in gratitude.

Thanks for being another voice, for adding balance.
sheri said…
I just want to say thank you for this post.
Amy said…
Thanks for speaking up, Margie. I like this version!
Mo said…
As a Korean adoptee and mother of a Korean adoptee... GO YOU! Truthfully, I get frustrated with both sides - my fellow adoptees and my fellow parents of adoptees. Since I'm both, sometimes I'm frustrated with me too. I like this post.
Deb said…
Amen! It always stuns me when my fellow a-parents seem so dismissive and derisive of birth parents. How can you possibly forget that it was only through this person's private anguish and tragedy that you have your beloved child? And how can you ever forget that your child will grow up with one more burden to carry: having grown up with people who are not his biological parents. That doesn't make adopted kids "screwed up"-- but it is part of their history and part of what shapes them. Adoption is a beautiful thing-- but it should be a beautiful solution when all other solutions have failed.
Mommavia said…
Well said. I enjoy reading all points of views from adoptees, whether it is warm and fuzzy or not. I think adoptive parents can learn a lot from all sides. I am tired of being told how lucky my son is and how I am so wonderful for adopting. I didn't do any rescuing and I am the lucky one...and I hope that my son's first mother can be proud of the son that we have.
mowho33 said…
hi margie,
thanks for this and for giving us a little shake. as a fairly new ap, i think my learning curve is only now starting to slow down. initially, i was a little surprised (threatened?) by the angry kads and by how much self-therapy they need to give each other. perhaps i was only selfishly worried about whether my own son would feel the same way when he reaches adult age.

and why should i be concerned or pass any judgement about how much therapy a kad needs anyway. i would never judge APs who need to self-heal by talking to each other about their insecurities, anger or emotions no matter how many years or decades the self-healing required. although i do think it is healthier to not dwell on the things we can't change, i know for myself personally, it is nearly impossible to put that into practice.

we want to do a good job as aps, but then we may forget and put our own feelings first.
cher said…
Hi Margie! So glad to have met you at the KAAN conference in Seoul! Found you on a link and glad I did. Your comments are so true. I want to applaud you for taking a righteous stand!

The term "parenting" implies giving birth and raising a child. In adoption that role is generally shared by two sets of adults. The best scenario implies a mutual respect and the mutual goal of putting the child first above their own needs. Some people lack the maturity and the insight to see that their negative attitudes and comments say more about them than they do about the people they attack. And any a-parent being disrespectful to a first mom or dad or to the feelings of an adoptee sets the stage for future problems with their own child. Their child will feel it.

As an adoption worker (and adoptive parent of two fab daughters in their 20's)I look for people who are at least willing to be open and generous, to step outside their own fears for their child's sake. Sure, being open to the unknown is scary but the benefits of finding out as much as possible about your child's history and celebrating your child's culture enhances who they are and will become. And the side benefit is that you become identified as an advocate for your child and surprise, surprise: you enrich your own life by embracing a multi-cultural identity. And get to meet some terrific people in the process!
Keep on!
Cher
Margie said…
Cher, so good to hear from you! Thanks for the comment - and I will definitely email you so we can keep in touch.

The conference was awesome, still can't believe I was able to go!

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