I was challenged with the task of trying to put to words the reasons for the title of this post. Here is my first go…
I can think of very few professions where having the experience garners so much currency and title of “expert” than when being an adoptive parent in the adoption establishment. It qualifies one to determine how adoptions are viewed and conducted. In turn, there are still fewer areas of expertise that cause more doubt, skepticism and worry than being an adopted person in the adoption profession. At every turn we are judged on our story and how we deliver that story according to a group of people who are not adopted. I am confused and crazed all at once.
My annoyance tonight is the elephant in the room that keeps getting ignored. At what point are adoptive parents going to admit to their complicity in the dangerous directions the adoption establishment continues to go? The concept of the establishment being a building with a bunch of social workers finding babies for a married couple who are wringing their hands waiting for the call about “their” baby is becoming less and less a reality. Instead, to me, the establishment is becoming more the prospective adopting parent(s) coming with questions in hand shopping for a person or agency that will give them their baby in the fastest, least instrusive manner. These adoptive parents claiming a stake in “victimhood” heading the charge trying to illuminate unethical adoption practice feels completely hypocritical. It seems that they have dipped into the dirty money and now that the end result did not turn out the way they expected, they are screaming ethics. Whom are they fighting for? Because it feels like I am hearing a cry against their injustice of not having the child they had dreamed of, the family they anticipated.
In pointing the finger at adoptive parents, I am in no way exempting agencies, facilitators, lawyers and legislators. After all, agencies have mostly been created, founded, operated and funded by adoptive parents. The idea that the big bad agency is an entity all unto itself making crazy decisions is preposterous. The agency is a people. Too, most adoption attorneys, facilitators and current legislators advocating for adoption are adoptive parents. How is it they can objectively promote adoption in an ethical and diligent manner?
So, let’s just cut to the chase and call it what it is – people making selfish altruistic decisions.
I feel dirty writing this though. My indignation feels cowardly. Because, there are tons of parents out there who are amazing people and caring for their adopted children unconditionally doing what parents do best – loving their children. And there are hundreds of thousands of adopted children and adults who are in loving, caring, beautiful families who could potentially feel like I just decimated their entitlement to happiness.
So, while I write this piece to illuminate some sad truths about the business of adoption, I hope there are more people who will respond to completely disagree with me.
Sitting in my seat though, spending hours and hours with adopted people opposite me, I keep getting dumbstruck by how little our experience is viewed with the same amount of merit, outrage and pursuits for change. For those of us who continue to dare to change the system, it seems our reputation as someone with an axe to grind preceeds us. Like most marginalized groups, we even turn against ourselves and judge each other for playing into the system. The second guessing I do before speaking my mind baffles me forcing me to carefully construct sentences to not wound the parents who seem to have all the power. This awful dance I do in order to assure that I get to continue to work with a child feels like I am playing right into the establishment. In the 15 years since I have been in this field, there have been books, films, documentaries, art installations, blogs, workshops and countless panels of adopted people challenging agencies and adoptive parents to do their due diligence, be more tolerant, open their adoptions and acknowledge they cannot undo or whitewash the past. It is exhausting and exasperating to see that children coming home today are still being pushed and cajoled to forget their past, forget their birthfamilies, attach, bond, be grateful and change the way they see themselves and their view of the world.
The idea that the adoption process needs more transparency feels like a hall of mirrors. The very people demanding more are the very people who have benefitted from knowing less.