It is 2015, isn’t it?
I can’t stop myself from asking this rhetorical question after reading this at an adoptive parent’s blog:
“Those who are “flipping the script” aren’t adoptees who are happy and content with their adoption experience, they’re the ones who are angered, feel like something was done to them.
The adoptees who aren’t speaking out (and far outnumber those who are calling out adoption) are the ones who are satisfied in life, the ones who accept their adoptive family as their own, ones who’ve found their birth family and either have a good relationship with them or have decided to let it be.”
I will admit that after reading this I let out a WTF and even wondered if my head might spin 365 degrees on my neck like that girl from The Exorcist. I then went to check my calendar to be sure I wasn’t caught in some kind of weird time warp.
I mean, what a way to stereotype adoptees and put us in our place. It came across to me as insulting and demeaning. As a matter of fact, I was stunned that anyone is still thinking this way 15 years into the 21st century. Isn’t any of what so many adoptees and first mothers are saying getting through? I can’t believe anyone would still try to shame us adoptees into one camp or the other; telling us that if we are happy with adoption and don’t support #flipthescript then we are upright, well-adjusted, admirable people, and that if we have anything negative to say about adoption and support a movement like #flipthescript we must be chronic (and presumably, unjustified) malcontents.
But then I thought about it–hasn’t this type of psychological machination always been used against those with the least power in a society? I mean, wasn’t it once considered true (and not that long ago, either) that women who weren’t content with just being wives and mothers were considered maladjusted? That if a woman wanted something more from life than being her husband’s wife or her children’s mother then there must be something wrong with her? And weren’t people of color expected to ‘know their place’ and told that those who were well-adjusted and reasonable would be content with the idea of ‘separate but equal’? I recall that several generations ago the term “uppity” was used for those who dared to question their so-called place. Could it be that even in the 21st century adoptees are being called out for being “uppity” when we challenge the status quo?
It is also unfair to praise adoptees who say they don’t blame their natural parents or harbor any ill will toward them for giving them up. These good adoptees get a pat on the back for being so mature and level-headed. Of course, we cannot change what happened. But why is it so wrong for an adoptee to have some negative feelings about the fact that her parents gave her away? Can’t we adoptees be real? Besides, any way you look at it, even if you thought what you were doing was for the best, or your back was against the wall and you didn’t have any other choice, giving us up can still feel like the epitome of abandonment and rejection. I think it’s a sign of mental health for adoptees to feel a bit of healthy anger toward the ones who gave us away. We do have value and worth, after all.
It is clear from this adoptive parent’s writing, that her son, like many other adoptees, very much needed a new home. And she does come across as a well-meaning person who is doing her best to provide him with a wonderful home. I am not one of those who believe that adoption should be abolished or that adoptive parents are the enemy. Adoption itself is not a bad thing. I believe it will always be needed. There will even be times when adoptees discover that they were born to fit parents, who could have kept them, but just didn’t want a child. Will that hurt? Yes, for most adoptees, very much. But all adults know that we don’t always get what we want in life. But what is bad, tragic even, is when an adoption does not have to take place, when a child is born to a perfectly fine mother or father who desperately wants to keep him, and yet through circumstances or relying on misinformation, the child ends up being an adoptee.
The fact that this happens in too many adoptions–yes, even today–is one factor that drives a number of adoptees to support a social movement like #flipthescript. That, and the fact that adoptees are not only supposed to be uncomplaining about our ‘lot’, while letting the non-adopted be the experts, but we are also still being denied the right to even know who our natural parents are. Now that makes me want to flip the script this very minute. But more importantly, adoption, as lived by those of us who are actually adopted, does not fit into the pretty little box that the adoption industry wants people to believe. And that is really the purpose and meaning behind a social movement like #flipthescript, and why it is so very important.
I should also point out that this blog author did have the courtesy to mention right away that she isn’t an adoptee. But therein lies the rub. It would never do for men to be the only ones talking about the experience of being a woman (although for most of human history only male voices were heard), or vice versa, or for whites to be the only accepted experts on the African-American experience. In the same way, a non-adoptee can never be the expert on the adoptee experience, just as an adoptee can never be the expert on the first parent experience.
As I said, I have no doubt after reading through some of the blog that this adoptive parent means well. But every adoptive parent must allow their son or daughter to express his or her true feelings about being adopted, without worrying that if his feelings don’t fit into some prescribed list (invented by the adoption industry) that his mental health and worthiness will be called into question.
So please adoptive parents, and those not even directly affected by adoption, pay close attention to what those who support #flipthescript are really saying. Try not to become defensive and jump to conclusions. You will do all of us impacted by adoption a world of good. And that can only help every adopted child.
I mean, it is 2015, isn’t it?
And a shout-out to Amanda at The Declassified Adoptee for helping to create #flipthescript.