Taking sides

The month of May is a transition month for me.  It is when I stop doing one of my counseling jobs at a music conservatory.  Having a job that follows an academic calendar is particularly sweet when you have kids.  It is bittersweet, though, as it also means terminating with students I have known for years.  Terminations, transitions, launching into a career…all the rites of passage of the young adult person.  How poetic then that May also involved writing a paper with a colleague in the hopes it will be published in a professional journal.  The subject matter was on the work we do with adolescents and young adults who are adopted.  I hope that my friend/colleague/sister in arms will still call me and want to talk to me after all of this is done.  It took some hard emails of the personal nature to get through before the actual paper was finished.  It reminded me that we are never done communicating, negotiating and reconciling allegiances.  I think we managed to come through in-tact.

While writing this paper, the word ambivalence was used time and again.  It is not an easy concept to feel passionate about something and yet ambivalent enough to be able to empathize that there are others who feel differently.  It is however, a really wonderful developmental milestone to achieve and totally one of the hardest.  I think about when I was a teenager opining over the way things should go, opinionated about everything with that snarky tone all mothers love to hear!  Now, twenty more years under my belt, I am no less passionate but much more ambivalent.  I don’t envy teens and young adults these days…it gets harder and harder to navigate our world.  It is still hard as an adult.  To take ownership of the idea that I can love two opposing ideas at the same time? The idea that I can love that I was adopted and hate that adoption has to exist at all?  It all feels like a tongue twister.

The part I struggle with now is the outside volume of voices out there that are not as ambivalent as me.  Work, paper, kids, Spring…all were great reasons for me to take a break from the world of facebook, twitter and blogging.  There were times when I felt I had never left my adolescence when reading comments or having conversations with others who are adopted about adoption.  At times, it felt like I was stuck again.  I was left wondering if I was STILL asleep?  What was I missing?

As I have come to my understanding of being a person of color who was transplanted into a world not of my own choosing, I try to accept this as fact and move forward from there.  But now, I am wondering if this awakening means that I must only see the negative aspects of being adopted?  Does it mean that I must join my fellow adoptees to ban international adoption?  Does supporting anti-adoption rhetoric allow me passage into the world of the enlightened?  Or can I remain ambivalent?  Rather, am I being a chickenshit to not subscribe to these thoughts all the time?  Don’t get me wrong, if you talked to me a couple of weeks ago before Mother’s Day, I had plenty to be angry about.  But it ebbs and flows, it never lasts long.  That’s ok isn’t it?

I keep searching for the “IT” factor that stops me from fully embracing one way of thinking about international adoption.  Is it my temperament that won’t allow me to stay in such an emotional state?  I am not built to be fine with one perspective.  I fear that if I dwell in the “shoulds” I won’t look up and see that tomorrow has arrived.  I am too lazy to try and figure out how to stop my life in current form.  Actually, none of the former is total truth.

Ambivalence is the coexistence within an individual of positive and negative feelings toward the same person, object or action, simultaneously drawing him or her in opposite directions.  Yes, this is where I sit again and again. Totally unsexy and not noteworthy but my truth.

I have opted to take no side because to oppose would mean an invitation to be made wrong.  I saw the casualties of that feat too.  Instead, my silence has been my own rebellion against the onslaught I feel at times by those willing to put themselves out there and be labeled angry, disgruntled, disenfranchised, entitled…Instead, I joined the tens of thousands of other adoptees for a spell being quiet, living life and letting adoption take a back seat.  It was a nice rest…the landscape looks a little different now.  Is there room still for me?

2 thoughts on “Taking sides

  1. “The idea that I can love that I was adopted and hate that adoption has to exist at all”
    does not sound like ambivalence to my ear, nor do those ideas have to be mutually exclusive. It is (for many) the truth of our existence as adoptees.

    And I don’t think it’s about taking sides. To my eye it is more about those deciding our fate unwilling to acknowledge the voices of subjects which do not validate all they do. What may feel like an onslaught is due to the imbalance in the discourse, precisely because those who question get short shrift and are marginalized for voicing valid concerns.

    To my mind, criticism of current practice is the most positive thing I can do for the world’s children, so that we don’t perpetuate the same conditions that cause orphan creation in the first place, who later become adoptees which end up on your couch unraveling an overly complicated life. Criticism is how change is born. Criticism is us being responsible citizens.

    There is room to be responsible, loving, and critical without being permanently labeled. It is the way in which we participate in the discourse which determines whether labels stick or not. When people viewed as reasonable also question the perfection of the adoption solution, then these issues will become less of a political battle and more of a discussion we can all put our heads together to fix.

    • agreed. still i wonder to what extent i am really representing or not representing those voices. i am always mindful that our community of outspoken voices are not an equal equivalent to those not speaking. i don’t know why my mind goes there. i would love an opportunity to have more discussions across the wider breadth of issues. the other thought that keeps nagging at me is this visual i get when two adoptees oppose ideas on adoption. it is as if they are standing back to back looking out. both are looking out but seeing very different things and believe it to be truth.

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