Look. I get it. There is what could be generously described as a cultural divide over specific issues. Generations have defined good and bad, right and wrong, and true and false in so many different ways, it’s almost impossible to get anyone to agree to even one thing, never mind hundreds. However, I believe there is such a thing as good, bad, right, wrong, true, and false, regardless of personal belief systems or political posturing.
This mentality has been bleeding into the adoption community for generations. However, now adoptees have a platform to speak their minds. They can stand on the metaphorical rooftops and share how unfair they feel their childhood was, how they felt ripped from the arms of a poverty-stricken parent and placed in an orphanage overseas.
Some people (who are disconnected from the adoption community) say, “How dare those kids disrespect their adoptive families like that?” They enter into conversations that were never about them and cast judgment based on minimal to no facts. They assume that adoption is every bit the exciting joy as every misguided children’s movie from the 80s until now showed it to be. These stereotypes do not stand.
But people have preconceived ideas of “the right way” for people to do things. Exposing the truth makes them feel vulnerable. Older generations didn’t acknowledge adoption. The families would “take a holiday” and come back with a baby that they hoped looked enough like them that people wouldn’t question it. Birth certificates were changed to reflect adoptive families as the family of origin. Adoption and the reasons it still happens are different than they used to be.
While we are now thankfully decades away from that particular mentality, there are still some people who try to live their whole lives as if the child they adopted is theirs biologically without acknowledging the impact of adoption on everyones’ lives who are involved (namely, the birth parents, the adoptive family, and the adoptee). Every day there are adoptive parents on forums asking if they should tell their children they are adopted. The answer is yes. Always. Certain things should not be kept secret. Adoption should not be a skeleton in the closet.
Furthermore, it shouldn’t be something to be either ashamed or particularly proud of. It’s another way to build families. It isn’t a badge of honor. It isn’t a spiritual milestone to assure your seat in heaven. That’s not how it works. You aren’t a better person if you adopt than if you give birth or if you surrendered your child to adoption. I have tried sacrificing my pride one thousand times to try and make this thing okay. I acknowledge the American foster care and adoption system is facing major challenges and I’m trying to do my part to fix it, or at least inform people of the problems.
People are angry and for the first time, they feel really free to talk about that anger. Are there things I wish weren’t the way they were? Absolutely. That’s true for all of society, not just the adoption community.
This time we live in is a complicated, messy, difficult one. It can feel impossible to keep up with it all. I will admit to previously held beliefs that I let go of that nonetheless were harmful when I held them. A rule I’ve been learning to follow in all of my interactions (but honestly am probably only following half the time) is to think twice before I speak by asking myself:
1. Is it universally true?
2. Is it helpful? Will anyone benefit from this statement? Am I being informative or spouting off my opinion in an aggravated way?
3. Is it kind? Am I going to hurt someone by saying these things?
If more people filtered this way, I feel there could be much less arguing and much more understanding. There’s a saying “You can be right, but wrong at the top of your voice.” This basically means you can have a good point, but if you scream it, no one will take it as correct information. I hope my words are soft enough to land but hard enough to stick.
The voices of adoptees matter. You don’t need to agree with their assessment of a situation for it to matter. You don’t need to feel defensive. Even if your child was adopted, and they feel some kind of way about that, they should still get to express those feelings. Even if it feels ungrateful to you. Because the fact of the matter is, these kids generally had no say in their adoption. If they did, it was a token call and response.
There will be people who resonate more with you and people who resonate less. I implore you to take off the defensive outer shell of your heart so you can let real, true things in. Adoption isn’t any one thing. So open your ears and your heart to compassion.