So I stopped procrastinating and added a bunch of links to the adoption section of our blogroll to your left. Click away. Especially if you are an adoptive parent, you may well have your views of adoption (and especially international and transracial adoption) challenged, possibly in a hurtful way. Sorry! (Well, kind of.)
Discussion of adoption on the internet is balkanized.
On the one hand you've got forums dominated by adoptive parents and parents-to-be. I've participated in some. In the ones I've encountered, the inhabitants confront some difficult issues (attachment issues, dealing with rude comments, dealing with tough questions from trans-racially adopted kids) but are generally cool at best and hostile at worst towards more fundamental and unpleasant issues like the role of racism in American society and ethical and socioeconomic issues surrounding transracial and international adoption. There's a current of happy-happy-joy-joy — not unreasonably, because the forums are primarily about mutual support during the process and sharing the joy of parenthood. When the tough questions come up — the questions that ask the members to confront the question of whether international and transracial adoption is an unqualified good thing — people will often react angrily.
(As an example, on one of the most prominent such forums, this week I saw a member react to a thoughtful discussion by saying that two of its participants should "shut up with the race-baiting" — and was defended for that outburst by like-minded people. That sort of reaction was not unusual. I've taken a vacation from that forum, because people say things that make me want to throw down, yet forum culture prohibits it. That makes me stabby.)
Then you've got the blogs by people in the process of adoption, like my own. These are, as a rule, much further into the happy-happy-joy-joy category and much less likely to discuss difficult issues. And why not? Adding a child to the family is a joyful thing no matter how it happens. Plus, all family life has its strife and Tennesee Williams elements, but no one feels obligated to depict them in their album. Creative Memories doesn't carry "angst" themed sticker packs.
Then you've got the adult adoptee blogs and blogs about adoption issues. In my unscientific assessment, these predominate towards moderate to serious misgivings about transracial and international adoption. There are blogs that confront serious issues but are still clearly positive about international adoption — such as Noble Seoul, written by someone who comments here and whom I am happy to count as an online friend. There are blogs I would describe, without judgment, as angry. And there are blogs I would describe as skeptical, cautious, and questioning. I don't believe I've found the flip side — a blog that seriously confronts questions about international and transracial adoption but refutes them with logic in favor of unqualified support of such adoption. (I'd like to see one — not to confirm opinions but to expose myself to and link to a diversity of thought on the issues.)
I've blogged previously about the social pressure in the adoption community and society at large for people — and especially adoptees — to portray international and transracial adoption only in a positive light, and about why that pressure should be refuted. Paula at Heart, Mind, and Seoul has an exceptionally good piece this week about the parental obligation to confront adoptee sorrow and loss. These sentiments are viewed as "race baiting" by one end of the spectrum and as wholly inadequate and self-deceptive by the other end. Somewhere in the middle, in my opinion, is reason and good faith.
I have some thoughts about confronting strong opinions about adoption on the internet and elsehwere:
- Aristotle says that it is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it. I believe that more people in the dialogue should adopt that view. Through some of the links I have added, and elsewhere, I can encounter some strong views about the morality of international adoption and the motives (actual or ascribed) of adoptive parents. I don't agree with all of them. But reading and confronting them is not endorsing them or accepting them.
- Some adoptees and birth mothers are going to be pissed off about international adoption and say terrible things about it and about the motives they ascribe to parents who participate. Don't take it personally or freak out about it. Expose yourself to it and you'll be more prepared for things you might hear from your kids at 15 or 25 or 35. Plus, being compassionate requires consideration of their circumstances, if not agreement. Remember, other people's feelings in general and adoptees' feelings in particular are not about you.
- On the other hand, adult adoptees, cut the adoptive parents some slack if your attacks on adoption freak them out a little. Lots of adoptive parents reach adoption through pain and loss. Contrary to media depictions and some anti-adoption views, most international adoptive parents don't get into it out of white-man's-burden ego. (If ego is involved, it's the same ego that leads biological parents to have kids.) When you attack something central to their identity and self-worth — their parenthood — some may react badly. Take it the way you would want them to take your criticisms of adoption and your stories of loss — with an open mind, and compassionately, if not in agreement.
- Despite what I've said about exposing oneself to opposing views, I haven't linked every site that engages tough issues of race and transracial adoption. Why? The tone of some of them pisses me off and I don't find them to be in the spirit of good faith consideration of issues. Just as I don't find a dialogue consisting of "shut up, race baiters" to be one in good faith that is worth my time, nor will I spend much time considering "Shut up, apologize, and shut up again." I was not made, as this blog suggests, to shut up. I will entertain and engage opposing views but I will not live my life as a penitent to either side.
By the way, I selected the particular blogs in the adoption section because (1) I know the writers from online or (2) I stumbled across them, and (3) I found them thought-provoking and/or well-written. Give me a shout if you'd like to see more there.
Edit: Welcome to recent visitors. Find more postings about adoption issues here.
Last 5 posts by Ken White
- A Response To Marc: Institutions, Agendas, and the "Culture War" - January 13th, 2016
- Lawyering Is About Service, Not Self-Actualization - January 11th, 2016
- Lawsplainer: Was FAU Prof. James Tracy Fired in Violation of His First Amendment Rights? - January 7th, 2016
- Defy, Defy, Defy. - January 7th, 2016
- President Obama And The Rhetoric Of Rights - January 5th, 2016