Tuesday, November 18, 2014

More Volatile than Religion or Politics?

I have opinions which commonly start fires on Facebook. As a child I always "marched to the beat of my own drum" (possibly one of the more positive side-effects of adoption was that I never felt that I fit in, so I could be who I wanted to be since I was being alienated anyway), and so I grew into an adult who is comfortable with my opinions, even if I don't always share them. I'm not a fan of arguing with people unless I honestly believe that I'm going to be able to change their minds, and since these two topics are so volatile, I often keep my mouth shut.

When a friend of mine compared being gay to being black and said that gays have it just as bad as black people, I kept my mouth shut. When multiple friends of mine have posted about raising the minimum wage, I've kept my mouth shut. My reasons for not speaking out are simple: I'm not going to be able to change their mind, so why should I bother attempting to "enlighten" them?

Ultimately, religion is a very personal choice, and politics has a way of dividing people, each side which believes the other to be either ignorant or heartless (and sometimes both). At the end of the day, these two things don't matter the way that adoption does.

Photo courtesy Andrew Kuznetsov via Flickr

Adoption is personal to me. It's a personal issue because I am adopted myself, and I have experienced an adopted adolescence, grown into adulthood and exited the adoptee fog. I wanted to be heard, initially, because I thought that it would benefit adoptive parents and potential adoptive parents to know what their children (or potential children) were going through as teenagers and as they reached adulthood. My misguided notion was that if I shared enough, adoptive parents would understand their children better and set out to parent them more effectively.

Unfortunately, I was wrong about this. I've discovered this more recently as people rush to "unfriend" me on Facebook.

I can talk about politics with my liberal friends. I can talk about religion with my atheist friends. But the moment something becomes as personal as adoption, everybody has an opinion.

I've noted that it's adoptive parents and potential adoptive parents who have unfriended me. In nearly every case, they believe that their adopted child (or their future adoptive child) is well adjusted and has experienced only the positive effects of adoption, with little or not side effect. These people have, invariably, told me that it's "my" truth and that most adoptees have a good experience with adoption. 

They are ignorant. And I've told them so.

To say "I know an adoptee, therefore I know what it's like to be adopted" is like saying "I know a gay person, and therefore I know what it's like to be gay." 

People don't like the analogy because it's not politically correct. It's not politically correct to speak up and raise our voices about the trauma of adoption, and it's not politically correct for us to compare discrimination against adoptees to other minority groups. Indeed, it's not politically correct to call ourselves a minority group at all (as adoptees, not based on our race).

When I speak up about adoption, it's not politically correct. It is a no-holds-barred expose of the emotional turmoil that the process of adoption puts the adoptee through. It's my way of sharing what I can with other people who are going through the same process. It's me reaching out to hold a hand and say "No, it's not typical, but it's normal for us as adoptees. I'm going through it too." This is me saying to the adolescent who is suffering with intense identity issues that "I've been there, and you have to forge your own path, even if it doesn't make your adoptive parents happy." 

It's my way of reminding adoptive parents that they can't expect their children to be like them, that personality is largely genetic and that apart from the activation of genetic components. Since adoptees don't share genetics with their adoptive parents, the adoptee's identity must be independently forged. I write and I share because many adoptees -- myself included when I was a teenager -- believe that they must do the thing that most pleases their adoptive parents, in order to avoid further abandonment.

Let me be clear: I am not anti-adoption. I'm pro-natural family. I don't discourage adoption: I encourage the preservation of the natural family whenever possible (but not at all costs to the parents or child). 

Most adoptive parents are good people. They are, in some ways, as much the victims of the process as their children and their children's natural parents. How? Because the adoption industry doesn't properly inform them about what the additional responsibilities of adoptive parenting are, and that it will at many times be more difficult than parenting a fully attached biological child.

But many adoptive parents -- in particular the mothers who are attempting to replace flesh and blood -- don't want to hear what the adult adoptees have to say. After all, they are going to be (or already are) the first adoptive parent to raise a child who never suffers ill effects of the adoption process.

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