Forums and I ...

... just don't mix.

I put my foot in it again. I honestly didn't mean to, I didn't think the issue was inflammatory, but I did it again. It’s frustrating, because I really would like to find a place where I feel comfortable talking about issues, not debating them. But, alas, the nature of the internet is such that I always seem to rub someone the wrong way. So no more forums for me.

What got me into trouble this time is an idea that’s been rolling around in my head for a long time – the possibility of starting a site along the lines of Christina’s Voices for Vietnam Adoption Integrity, but focusing on adoption from Korea. When VVAI started up it struck me immediately that the Korean adoption community might benefit from a similar site, where news could be shared, issues raised, and resources posted. I set up a placeholder blog for it, but time being in short supply, I haven’t thought much more about it. If there’s interest and enough motivated folks to contribute, maybe it could happen, though. So I pitched the idea.

And got a surprisingly negative reaction. Yes, I'm a big girl, I know that people are entitled to their opinions in an open forum, and I should have expected it. But it still surprised me, because there was an edge to it, a sort of pre-judgment that my intention was to bash, and I had no right. That was most definitely not what I had in mind, and honestly it was painful to be viewed that way by someone I don't even know.

Edited to add: Please don't misunderstand! I was, shall we say, rather abruptly dismissed, but not attacked.

Of course, maybe there really is no point to looking at Korean adoption integrity. Maybe Korean adoption programs are ethical, and need no watchdogging. Maybe what happened to my family is a one-off anomaly. Or maybe our experience is the remnant of practices that have been corrected.

I don’t know.

I do know this, though: The smackdown hurt. And maybe now I get, if only a little better, how frustrating it must be to be an adoptee who is trying to share their experience, and is dismissed as "angry."

The fact that I am grateful to the people that brought me my family - from my children's first parents through the social workers and agency staff here and in Korea - doesn't mean that I abdicate my right and responsibility to point out where the process failed. I wish I understood why this perspective is so threatening – although a part of me really doesn’t care, because it’s just not up for debate with me anymore.

As they say, my experience is what it is, and it leaves a lot of room for improvement.


suz said…
Awww, Sorry to hear you felt smacked down. Consider the source. If they were were rude and abrasive, that says far more about them than it does about you.

People hungry for children dont want to hear about possible ethics issues. Acknowledging them, having people fight for them, might mean they wont get children and/or they might have to face their own culpability. Not pretty thoughts for many.

I dont frequent forums or lists. I have no need to convince strangers there ideas are a bit asswbackwards. I use my energy for organizations, leglislature, search and support.

Its not you Margie. You are fabu.
Margie said…
Awww, thanks Suz. Speaking about adoptive parent forums, I do think it’s me, though. I come into them with a completely different experience – my kids are grown, after all, and I’m not much interested in the usual chatter about referrals and the like. I think this experience was a great lesson about how hard it can be to reach APs and PAPs at the front end of the experience if their eyes haven’t been opened yet. There’s tremendous gratitude and loyalty to the agencies in Korean and the US, and a refusal to acknowledge that the process could be flawed.

I should have known better. And I’ve learned my lesson at last, LOL!!
Christina said…
I'm not good on most forums either. Which is why I like VVAI - I can say what I want and people can like it or lump it. :-) Of course we still get some rather negative comments and people slam us on the forums... but VVAI is there to be judged on its merits and we really do try to be objective and not just "bash" anything. And you know, I do consider Korea's adoption program to be one of the best in the world, but this side of heaven nothing is perfect - all programs can improve. And a big part of the ethical picture has nothing to do with the country but the PAP - at VVAI we try to bring up issues and educate new PAPs on perspectives that maybe they just haven't thought about yet. Not to make anyone feel "bad" or guilty, but just because often we don't see the repercussions of choices we make until months or years down the road when its too late to act differently.
But then, I think you do a lot of that right here at Third Mom, so even if the forum community is resistant to a new site, your message is still getting out there. And I'm so glad it is!
veggiegrrl said…
I, for one, think a site like you describe is important and needed. I would be happy to help out with it in any way, and I think I know a few other parents who would also be sympathetic.

Even if many other APs and PAPs are not yet ready to engage this topic, I think there's value in making an internet presence that (hopefully) people may find when looking for info on international adoption. That, to me, is one of the best chances we as parents have of getting into the pre-adoption process.
Lauren said…
Hi Margie,

I'm sorry that the response stung you. Many of us read but don't interact because the attacks can be hurtful and it seems that any opinion that questions rather than agrees is rebuffed. Instead we benchmark our experiences on our own and try to find resources via blogs or sites we respect and trust. Not a bad approach but it would be really nice to have a site where issues could be discussed without fear of being put down.

There are APs and PAPs out there looking for fair and responsible information. We may not be a vocal group but we do exist and we’re learning. It’s possible to be thrilled about referrals but asking good questions and contributing to system change too. We don’t have the benefit of hindsight yet but we’re listening to those that do. It doesn’t mean that we won’t make mistakes or take missteps though.

And ethics are ethics, some will embrace it and some won’t understand as they are blinded by getting to exactly what they want, regardless of the cost to those around them. Adoption ethics don’t differ much from medical ethics, business ethics, etc. Those blinded people will continue to rebuff you and attack you (“you” meaning anyone that gets in their way), but the discussion can still exist for those really searching for ethical adoption information.

I applaud you for always putting yourself out there and being unafraid of the tough questions.

As an aside, thank you for your postings about Julia. She was very special and your writings about her are beautiful.

Take care,

JoLynn P. said…
I think it's really important to have an open dialog about adoption. To be able to share all sides & hopefully you will keep posting. Not everyone will agree, but it's important to be able to express your feelings in a supportive environment.
Kahlan said…
Now, Margie, I am going to call you out. ;) I think you TOTALLY belong in forums, even the one in question. Maybe someone disagreed or was offended, but I would guess that many are encouraged by you, agree with you, and learn so much from your experiences of having grown children (I know that is the case with me). And I would also venture to guess that even those who don't agree with you, learn from you.

Ansley said…
I agree with Kahlan. I am very angry this happened to you. I think your idea is a absolutely fabulous, just like you.

(Big hugs!)
Heather Rainbow said…
((Margie)) I'm sorry you were attacked on the forum. It is because we are trying to hold people responsible, and so the ones who have gained suddenly have something to lose. It's a tough battle that we are fighting. Know you are not alone.
Paula O. said…
I, too, am so sorry that you were hurt.

Suz is right - it's not you, Margie. You didn't "put your foot in it again" - far from it. Your voice - your ideas - your opinions are just as worthy and just as valid as any one elses.

In my opinion, the issue was not inflammatory in any way. I, for one, would welcome the opportunity to have another place to talk about and discuss the ethical practices in IA especially as it pertains to Korea.

Big hugs to you, Margie.
Anonymous said…
I have a lot to say about the ethics and/or lack thereof involved in Korean adoption - at least in the past. My family's experiences were not all rosy at all.
Leslie said…
I'm sorry, Margie. Keep speaking the truth.
Nicki said…
Margie - please do start the site. VVAI is about a year old and I think we've learned so much in that year. One thing I have learned and I think someone else touched on this is that it is the people who don't comment or use their voice that are often most positively impacted. The most vocal are those who disagree, feel threatened or guilty. You are impacting them too, they just don't realize it. The response you elicit is the measurement of your impact.

Also I think it is exactly because the Korea program is one of the best that it deserves a forum like VVAI. If there is even a single person like your family that is so impacted by the process (past or present), you know there are others.
shoed contessa said…
If there's one thing I've learned about the internet is that if you post a comment about anything there will be at least five people who disagree with you. Sometimes that makes it worth not posting, but in this case where what you're talking about is so important I think it's crucial - for you, for all of us - to keep it up. Just because you're saying something people might not want to hear doesn't mean you shouldn't be saying it.

I'm a pre-adoptive parent, and as much as I like knowing what's going on in the world of referrals and transition issues I'm starving for discussions of ethics and experience. What I learn isn't always what I want to hear, but that's exactly why I'm searching out the information. I need to know. We can't let the people who don't want to talk about the hard stuff make decisions about the only allowable topics of disussion.

So please, please keep on what you're doing.
Seoul Siblings said…
I agree with Suz who said that "people hungry for children dont want to hear about possible ethics issues". All they care about is how they can add more kids to their family. Those "parents" make me physically ill.

For us APs and PAPs out there that are reading Margie, don't give up speaking. And the same goes to the adoptees reading on here. Don't give up your voice calling for ethics in adoption. There are APs and PAPs willing to listen. Adoptees and APs need to speak teach the PAPs and others about problems in the process to alert them.

We need more voices such as your own to discuss ethics in adoption.
Eastiopians said…
I think our world has a lot to lose if we do not debate important issues. Don't let other people bring you down. Your life and your perspective has so much to offer.

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