The boundary thing

I guess at the end of the day, I'm no warrior. My sword has been removed and is sitting quietly in a corner. For awhile, anyway, I'm going to draw the boundaries of my discussion very close to my personal experience, which means since I don't write about my kids, it'll be slim pickings here for a bit. But I really need to withdraw and figure this thing out.

Here's the net of what's been eating at me, and those of you who read Harlow's Monkey will understand where I'm headed. There's a post there about a-parents as adoptee allies - do read it if you haven't. To the best of my ability, I'm trying to take the guidance in that post to heart. But recently I've been wondering if, in my zeal to be that ally and step into the fray, I haven't overstepped my boundaries and spoken for adoptees in a way that takes their voices away, rather than supporting them.

Consider this example from the dreaded forums: Imagine that you are reading a thread in which someone says negative things about "angry adoptees." Numerous a-parents jump in to offer their opinions, which unanimously dismiss and discredit these adoptee experiences.

Should you jump in and offer your support?
What if an adopted person does respond, and is attacked? Do you jump to his or her defense?
Or do you stay out of it and let the adoptee community fight their own battle?

This same analogy applies to situations in which first parents are similarly dismissed, although in their case the dismissing seems to happen at the hands of a-parents and adoptees both.

Now, to some people I know this may appear to be a stupid question. But I think a-parents have held the power in adoption for so long that if we overplay our role of ally, we actually silence adoptee and first parent voices more than we support them. At least I think that's a possibility, and I'm trying to figure out where the boundary between the two lies.

And by the way, this is the net of the question I asked the individual on the list that resulted in yesterday's post. Please let me know if you see anything in this issue that would be offensive to an adopted person or first parent, because I seriously don't and am worried that I'm missing the 800 pound gorilla.

Believe me, I've twisted this thing in my mind for so long I'm not sure I fully understand what I've said here myself. But it's a start, and I really welcome your thoughts.


atlasien said…
My perspective is that it's not helpful at all to get involved in most of those battles when they're held in an environment that favors groupthink and immunity to criticism.

When the ground is more neutral, and there's even a small possibility of critical discussion, then yes, they're worth it.

Some forums have that space for discussion, most don't.

Also, I don't have the patience for holding serious arguments within a support-type environment. I'm not in the mental habit of giving OR needing back-pat posts, and often in order for someone to hear your words, you have to first prime the pump with a lot of comforting words that you really do see them as nice person.

The only adoption forum I'm on right now is, which is low-traffic but pretty decent.
suz said…
I get your point and think its a great question. Kinda like your greatest strength can become your biggest weakness. You are someone who is an ally for adoptees, for mothers like me, and are vocal aboout it but you are STILL someone who benefitted from adoption and therefoe have te power and that may intimidate some (am I making sense? Cuz I think I am).

As noted earlier, I limit those types of dicussions to individuals that I feel have the ego and respect to discuss them crticially and not personaly. After being torn to pieces by two adult adoptees, I decided it was time to pull in my own boundaries and stop talking with people who have no respect, understanding, or ability to see the other point of view.

I am more selective now. Wrong? Perhaps but for me, for now, it is what feels safe.

Hugs to you.
Margie said…
Hugs to you, too, Suz! And you are saying EXACTLY what prompted this question. APs have so much power in adoption, do we risk robbing first parents and adoptees of their voices when we try too hard to be allies?

I'm seriously beginning to think we do, which tells me there's a fine line between the two somewhere that we need to respect. Only I'm not sure where the line is, hence my question.

Thanks for jumping in, you KNOW I respect your opinion A LOT!!
joy said…
I still don't know, because I would have to say specifically.

I think it depends a lot on the skill and tact of the individual.

Some people are adroit, others clumsy. Sometimes even well pitched volleys aren't received due to a reason beyond one's control.

I don't think you should put your sword away though, I think you should keep talking and learning, it is okay to sometimes get your feelings hurt. That is part of how we expand as people.

Risk is one of the most thrilling parts of life. One of my new favorite sayings I got from an adoptee in arms; You play, you win, you play, you lose, you play.
Mirjam said…
Ouch... a thin line it is. Please tell us when you've found it.

Hang in there,
atlasien said…
I just read the post before this one, and I'm really less sure of what's going on or what the context is.

So I don't know if my first comment on this post was useful or not. It's just my personal way I use to determine whether or not to get involved in an argument.
Laurel said…
I just emailed you. Hugs!
Addie Pray said…
*pats atlasien on the back and runs*

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