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Dear Everyone

So, I’ve been on a bit of a rant this week. For some my rants may seem too tame or safe, to others they may seem too aggressive or unfair. I’m open to being perceived in both lights. Because, that’s the thing about the adoption experience – it’s not just one experience. It’s many experiences. However, people and organizations keep trying to fit adoption into one little box. The more we try to compress these experiences the greater the pressure becomes and it will eventually explode, and the only ones wounded will be the children we all, in our own ways, are trying to help.

So here is my final message:

Dear Everyone,

We all need room. Room to find our voices, share our stories, and room to heal. We need room to grow up and use our critical minds, room to collaborate, and room to create something new and better. We need room to hold others accountable, be called on to be accountable, and room to step aside when appropriate. We need room to be wrong, to be right, and to be unified.

I hold fast to the idea that nothing has changed until everything has changed. It keeps me motivated and committed to my work. But, nothing will change if we don’t work together. We have to set aside our egos and hear one another, value each other as equal partners in a complex and emotion-laden experience, and keep our eyes to the future. A future that looks nothing like today.

9 Comments on Dear Everyone

  1. Qualifying our statements seems to me to be a function of our adoptee status: Trying to please the “dominant” mode; reacting in the infantilized manner that we are forced to assume; made to swallow some absurd notion of “everyone has their own opinion” and that this is valid in terms of this discourse. After all, we can imagine there were “nice” plantation owners, and we can imagine there were “happy” slaves, but the discussion of abolition could not be bogged down by this kind of non-argument. Can we imagine anyone who has spoken out about human rights in any way qualifying their opinion in this way? Why are adoptees punished for voicing their opinion? This is a function of bogus U.S. politics and a nonsensical post-modern relativism. A suggestion: Stick to your guns! Stand tall, and let’s call out adoption for what it is: A crime and a violence.

  2. Brent Snavely // May 24, 2012 at 4:51 am // Reply

    Because the issues are many and complex, I am not so sure “the only ones wounded will be the children”.

    Having been born and raised in the USA, I have a rather US-centric view. I think poverty, male dominance, women as “sexual-property”, children as property, racism (or colorism), classism, religious beliefs and other power-related issues lurk beneath the surface as causative factors to the continued wounding of all.

    ‘The children’ will assuredly be wounded in the absence of open discourse. So, too, will those who follow and oppose dominant thought about adoption. All will be wounded throgh ignoring societal issues that set the stage for “save the children” projects to be thought necessary, and ignoring the causative factors assures the cycle will be continued…

  3. I would agree, and I would only add that when we qualify our statements, no matter how much or why, we are giving in to the dominant mode which, if we think about it and especially in terms of our adoption, needs us to remain infant-like, docile, acquiescent, and without Voice.

    This becomes the major difference between us as children (welcomed to the U.S.) and us as adults (targeted as immigrants; fifth columns; deported; etc.)—we were nice and quiet when we were babies, just as the colonizer likes his subject.

    I imagine there were a lot of “nice” plantation owners; and there were a lot of “happy” slaves; but this in no way determines the discussion of slavery, or its dismissal as a subject of human rights and dignity.

    Adoption, coming from indentured servitude, has a lot in common here with how abolitionists targeted slavery. Slaves were (and are) said to have had a “leg up” on their brethren left behind, as if a favor was done in trafficking them to the States (Michele Bachmann as much as said this in a New Yorker interview).

    So we need to stand by our convictions, find common cause with those likewise dispossessed, trafficked, displaced, and removed from their source. Adoption is part of a bigger economic and political picture; it cannot and should not be reduced to the purely personal.

    This reduction is a tactic, and I think we need to categorically reject it for what it is.

  4. Daniel and Brent, thanks for your fine responses. Your points are valid. I would also like to add, though, that what Shelise did this week wasn’t easy. I applaud her for throwing herself out there in a forum (Land of Gazillion Adoptees) that’s viewed by individuals from all walks of life, and, because of it, has had impact in ways folks may not readily see first glance.

    Additionally, her call to set aside some of our differences and to hold all in the adoption community (including adoptees) accountable are core convictions of LGA. We believe that it’s the only way that the adoptee community will get some of the things we know that we need to accomplished done.

    • Brent Snavely // May 24, 2012 at 8:48 am // Reply

      Kevin, I don’t know if my comment appeared to short-shrift the efforts — I hope she keeps kickin’ butt and takin’ names. What I intended to communicate was that there are many reasons to address/redress the “adoption” issue, and incidentally and simultaneously, a good number of other issues as well.

      • You didn’t short-shrift at all. I was just reminding everyone, not just you and David, that what Shelise did this week was difficult. Thanks again for your ongoing engagement!

  5. I hear you, but I would only add this. Malcolm X stated: “How can you thank a man for giving you what’s already yours?” He was talking about freedom and liberty, and the fact that he was expected to thank those who gave him the microphone as it were to state his piece—his Voice, robbed from him, is still his Voice, and he doesn’t have to “thank” anyone for it.

    The bigger point though was that without anything being said, without a word coming out of anyone’s mouth, things were already stacked against him in terms of legal, cultural, governmental, societal, and mediated systems. So to ask him to “concede” ground was a tactic, just like it is used against adoptees or anyone who speaks “angrily” about the subject.

    Personally, I think that talking about adoption as an “actuality”, as a starting point, is a mistake. I will not concede this, like I imagine Frederick Douglass did not concede points about the “comfort” of slaves and the “danger” of the emancipated unemployed. I can argue this point until I’m blue in the face (as everyone knows). But I will never ever get to the point where I say, “*Given* adoption, we should etc.” Because this is the slippery slope of lost causes.

    The utopic ideal, if you will, need be fixed (in terms of positioning in our minds), and then everything follows. Meaning, let’s imagine the end of adoption. Let’s imagine supply nation-supported repatriation. Let’s imagine mothers and families (like in Guatemala) suing for the return of their children. Let’s fix the utopic ideal outside of the current dystopic cess pool that is the adoption industry. This radically shifts the focus of the discussion, and it radically reworks the power differential of who “controls” the discourse.

    I don’t mean to state your purpose for you; and I think it is important if not crucial to have this dialogue among adoptees. Because frankly, if no adoptive parent or prospective (such a perfect term) adoptive parent were to say anything for the next thousand years, and we only heard from mothers, families, communities, and children, this would only be a start to rectifying the power differential at play.

    Then, and only then, can we have a valid conversation on the subject.

  6. Again, points well taken, David. Know that many here at LGA share your sentiments. We, like you, believe in the long road. I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again. We here at LGA believe that we’re in a 12 round fight. We’re only in round 1. Thanks for your ongoing engagement. Love it!

  7. Chad Rancher // May 24, 2012 at 1:28 pm // Reply

    Anything short of the complete elimination of adoption can be the only goal if anyone truly wants to help children here and overseas now and into the future. The enemy is the entitled group of females and males who believe for whatever reason (and the reasons are many) that they deserve someone else’s child. Adoption alters the identity, culture, and historical relevance of the individual who has been adopted. When there are no safety or health risks to an infant, work locally for family preservation, NOT adoption by STRANGERS. Work to change the mystique surrounding adoption by telling your own truth about the effects of the adoptive experience on your life journey and on your own biological children. Wipe away the fairy dust from your eyes and the eyes of those who believe adoption is always a win-win situation.
    When children are true orphans (here or abroad), work to support permanent, legal guardianships, NOT falsified, altered birth certificates. Countries like Australia have done this, and they now have fewer than 200 adoptions each year. Don’t support agencies, groups, or causes that view biological separation of mother and child as the only solution to unplanned pregnancies or poverty. Babies need their natural mothers; natural mothers need their babies. Adoption severs this primal, evolutionary and eternal bond. Give your time and efforts to causes that help sustain the mother/child relationship, not destroy it. Work to end the money that changes hands in the sale of infants. Adoption is nothing more than child trafficking from the poorest, most vulnerable women in our world to those who can “afford” to buy a baby. Anything short of ending adoption and the multi-billion dollar industry that feeds on it is pure and unadulterated capitulation to the enemy. Resist their slick advertising, their reassuring words, like “open” adoptions (which are NOT legally enforceable in any of the 50 States) and their manipulative, canned, predetermined scripts, and work to end adoption now! Nothing will change, until everything changes and AdoptionLand no longer exists, except in fairy tales…

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