July 12, 2013

Do You Have Anything Positive To Say About Adoption?

Actually I do. 

A few months ago I shared Five Amazing Things About Being an Adoptee, just in case you missed it.  When I receive a question like, "Do you have anything positive to say about adoption?" I know the place it comes from.

I want to start by answering this question in one of my favorite ways…a true story.

 The Hair Lady

“Oh my gosh, you have THE most beautiful hair I’ve ever seen!” said a lady standing behind my friend at the checkout counter of a department store. 

A bit uncomfortable, my friend answered, "Thank you so much."

She tried to quickly move on but the woman kept talking.

“Really…I’m telling you...your hair is absolutely gorgeous! I'd like to know who your stylist is. I’m looking for a new hairdresser right now and your style is amazing! I want it!"

“Well, thank you,” replied my friend humbly, "That’s very flattering...but really…”

Undeterred, the woman exclaimed, “No, I’m serious! Please share with me...can you tell me who does your hair?"

Meekly my friend confessed, “Actually if you must know…this is a wig. I have breast cancer and am currently undergoing chemo and radiation…”

The woman apologized for any discomfort she caused in asking my friend about her hair and wished her well in her recovery. I’m happy to say she’s doing great -- in remission and her  hair has grown back now.

Gettin' Wiggy With It

Most of the world sees adoption just like the woman in the department store saw my friend and her hair.

“Oh my gosh, it’s sooooo beautiful….”

“Really, I’m telling you, it’s so amazing!”

“No, I’m telling you, it’s so great, in fact, I want it myself!”  

What's Underneath?

Most of the population sees the surface beauty in the replacement, (adoption) being completely unaware or even choosing to overlook what lies beneath

A lot of people don't want to take an honest look beneath the surface of adoption, because once you come to an understanding of exactly what's wrong with the system, anyone who has a heart and ethics will be moved to work for change. A shift in the right direction will turn the system on it's ear. And quite frankly, many adults don't want that. Because if wrongs are made right, it will be all about the children. Only about the children. 

"Regrettably, in many cases, the emphasis has changed from the desire to provide a needy child with a home, to that of providing a needy parent with a child. As a result, the whole industry has grown, generating millions of dollars of revenues each year."  
 ~ United Nations, Commission on Human Rights, 2003 

The majority of the world is clueless about the significant loss, trauma and grief related to adoption, and the corruption of the industry which is now a 5 billion dollar industry in the USA alone.

All they see is our wig. 

And they keep shouting at us about how beautiful our wig is, like...“Don’t you have anything good to say about wigs?” And we’re like... “Cancer stinks.”  And they’re like... “Is that all you can say? Don’t you have anything good to say? Look at your wig! It's absolutely beautiful!” And we're like, "Please let me go live in an adoptee commune where people actually understand. Oh never mind, that would be an orphanage.

Anything we say to in response, short of bowing down in gratefulness and adoration, brands us an "angry adoptee" whose adoption "didn't work out" and "must have had a bad experience" but "thankfully it's not like that for everyone." [double sigh]

Furthermore, this rebuttal of, “Adoption is beautiful! Focus on the positive!”  slows reform and makes things harder for the next generation of adoptees.
When adoption reform and adoptee rights advocates speak up, we are shushed (actually this is called Adult Adoptee Abuse) with admonitions to be grateful. 

“Can’t you just focus on the good?” they say. 
Does that mean we have to be quiet about what's bad?

Why wouldn't any right-thinking individual want to fix what's broken?  

"Why are adoptees angry?" they say. "That's not right."

It might have something to do with injustice. People were really angry about slavery. A lot of people are angry about human trafficking. Isn't it normal for people to be a little angry about wrongs that need to be righted in the world? Even Jesus was angry sometimes...I read something about him turning some tables over and calling people vipers and whitewashed tombs... 

If you’re a Christian adoptee you hear things like, “Why can't you just have the victory over this? You can overcome!"

We do overcome. Adoptees are survivors. You're hearing our voices and we're still here. A lot of adoptees aren't. They have committed suicide. 

Because I speak about what needs to change doesn't mean I am not thriving, strong, empowered and successful. 

And speaking of victory and overcoming, we're really looking forward to winning the battle for adoptee rights and reform. We're gonna party like adoptee and first mother rockstars. I think I might watch I Am Sam and eat warm brownies out of the oven all night long, puke my guts out and do it all over again!

Then there’s the ever popular, “Just be glad you’re not dead!" Thank God you weren’t aborted!”  [Facepalm]

I have several friends and family right now, fighting a battle with cancer. I haven’t called one of them up yet to tell them they just need to be glad they’re not dead.  

How would you feel if every time you discussed a particular challenge in your life everybody piped up with, "Hey, forget about that, just be glad you're not dead!" I mean, really. It might even get kind of comical after a while if it weren't so sad.

When some Christians discuss adoption issues with me and have no legitimate rebuttal left, they pull out the abortion card and tell me how glad I should be that I'm not dead. Which is irrelevant. Guess what...we're all dying. At some point no one will be able to say this to me anymore because I will actually be...dead. They will have to select another adoptee to keep reminding that they aren't dead. It must get old when your only argument to adoptee rights and reform is reminding people they exist. But don't have a birth certificate that isn't filled with lies to prove their actual existence. 

Meanwhile as we try to move forward with adoption rights and reform only to have people say, "Hey, you should be so grateful that we are not dead!"millions of children in this generation of adoptees grow up with no change in the system.  Epic fail, people.

Adoption and abortion are separate issues entirely and should not be conflated. Why we would relegate the destiny of children to two choices, I do not know. But evidently we have a whole lot of people who believe that only one of two things can happen with an unexpected pregnancy. Evidently their god is really small. Yes, I used a small "g". If he's so weak he has only allowed two man-made choices in the world, he's not the real G-O-D, Almighty God.

The God I personally know and follow works through people to help families stay together.  People like my new friend, Carolyn Espina at the New Life Center for Family Preservation, in Lakeland, Florida. She and her ministry team are helping mothers and babies stay together – what a concept! I think I’ve heard of that somewhere. Oh yeah, the Bible… 

What are adoptees hoping for? 

Instead of a verbal shaming adoptees into "staying positive," how about some compassion?

What would it be like instead to approach the subject (and us) with an open heart and mind?

Try to suspend what you already know or think you know about adoption, and look at it with fresh eyes. Listen to what adult adoptees are saying. Adoptees are the best resource -- the experts on adoption. This is because we are the only ones who are actually...ADOPTED. What a concept, to ask people about something who have actually lived the experience. Brilliance, I tell you.

What you believe about adoption may very well be the Americanized or Christianized view of it. The truth is that adoption today is radically different from adoption the Bible speaks of, which refers to the spiritual experience known as "salvation".

Society…you see our wigs.
You so often comment on their beauty.

But many of you are unaware of the underlying challenges. 
Or you don't want to be aware.

Will you please care enough to listen and learn about life underneath the wig?