Thank goodness you guys are smart

I really appreciate your comments, everyone - you guys are smart, that's for sure.

Mama D emailed me with some thoughts that are particularly helpful, and I'm passing them on because they're really wise and "common sensical." I'm quoting, because she said it far more clearly than I could paraphrase:
There is a fine line between speaking for someone and speaking in support of someone. And, who gets to draw that line? You? The person? Maybe it's like racism: If a person of color says something you say that involves that color is racist, it is. Which takes it to the personal level (not all green people think green jokes are insulting). Which brings it back to you speaking your truth.
Think, too, about how the the situation, the people involved, and their interpretations-reactions-
perspectives on whatever is being discussed will influence where that boundary between speaking in support of and speaking for another will fall. APs must learn to read the cues and figure out when it's appropriate for us to offer our support and when it's not. We have to be very careful to let the owners of the issue lead the response.

Now I know why I have trouble with boundaries, and why all of this has been so hard for me to wrap my head around: I love to ride in and save the day. I need to learn that the day isn't mine to save - or at least not the "days" we talk about here.

As I think about this, it seems that it would be acceptable for APs to offer support in the form of references back to writings and references by and for the population we may be trying to support. For example, if we're in an AP forum where people are making false generalizations about adoptees, we can reference adoptee websites, and books and films by adoptees, but should go lightly with our own two cents. If the issue is race, same thing - we should point to references by and for people of color, but leave out our own spin. I think, though, that it would be OK in any case to state our support for those fighting the issues. That can be helpful in and of itself.

LOL, you heard all this already, Mama D, but I'm so exhausted today that I'm cutting corners. Thanks again everyone, this was very helpful to me, and hopefully to you.


suz said…
I understand MamaD's point and agree however I believe (and have experienced) that even when you are clearly showing support you are attacked and misinterpreted.

You are always subjected to the other persons own emotional development (or lack thereof). If you are dealing with a very bitter person (mother, PAP, adoptee or other) who projects their wounds onto everyone, you may not gain much ground.

Some have more strength to battle those types and get something out of it (and maybe indeed influence them). At present I dont.

Kudos to you if you do.
a Tonggu Momma said…
I tend to agree with mama d on this, for the most part, but Suz brings up some REALLY good points. I can't be responsible for someone else's emotional maturity (or the lack thereof).

I tend to keep my mouth shut on adult adoptee and first mother sites - just reading, learning and linking to specific posts when something resonates with me. I hardly ever comment, although I did a few days ago when A-Ps were encouraged by an adoptee to go to another adoptee blog to lend support.

That was going out on a limb for me.

I guess I'd have to say that humility on both sides of the aisle goes a long, long way. I totally don't have all the answers. I never will. But I'm TRYING. I REALLY am. And if an adult adoptee or first mother is willing to acknowledge that and respect the effort, then okay, we can learn from one another.

Sometimes I might need a smack down because I forget humility. And sometimes I need some education - hopefully of the kind and gentle sort. But - in general - in ALL of life - humility goes a long way when talking about boundaries.

Just my two cents.
mama d said…
Suz: I agree that you will be attacked if you dare to speak against the mobthink or when someone else interprets your support differently. Sounds like you and I have been on some of the same boards.

What I've come to is this: If the friend (or relative) I'm supporting says it's support and I get blasted for it, I imagine what the friend must go through on a regular basis simply for speaking their truth.

It's not fun to be attacked or threatened, and I've been both. But, it's not fun to be on the end of -ist communication of any kind. As a white AP, I'm relatively uneducated in being disenfranchised based on my social group membership (hat tip to Jae Ran for the phrase).

No need to battle; big need to give a healthier option to the attacker; bigger need (for me) to be educated in the methods of opression. And, a thick skin is certainly handy!
Mei-Ling said…
TongguMomma: I think I know what you're referencing, I went there too.

Good job for speaking out.
Margie said…
Precisely, TM, precisely. I'm good with smackdowns, but just let me know why.

I think, Suz, that what happened to me this week was very much what you're talking about. I think I unintentionally triggered something. I just wish I know what I'd said so I could do better next time.
Margie said…
And whoa, I found that post too, TM - holy smokes! Good for you and Mei-Ling for jumping in!
suz said…
If you find a way to do better next time, let me know. My only recourse to date when encountering those emotionally undeveloped, attacking, projectionist types is to avoid them.

I find it better for me, to put my energy where it can do the most good. While I am engaged in fighting someone who wants to see only their way (or cannot see past their own pain) I am likely ignoring someone who can benefit from my support. I tend to move on.

Just because one person disgrees with you, doesnt mean everyone does.
Margie said…
"I tend to move on."

That is a wise approach.
Anonymous said…
I struggle with this too. If an AP wants to speak up for the voices that are often silent, but more importantly wants those voices to be HEARD, then maybe the best kind of response in an AP forum would be to make a comment that points out that you're in an area where we need to hear from the people who've had the *actual expreience* (that is, adoptees, or first mothers, depending upon the topic). And then instead of rephrasing those arguments, linking to where they've been discussed by an actual adoptee, etc. Um, that may have made more sense in my head.

On another note, do you know about Going Home the Movie? Check out I am really excited about this.

Elizabeth, mom to Jae

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