assumptions & why i educate and write

Those of us within the adoption community know there are plenty of adoption-focused blogs. And like this one, some are written by individuals who were adopted.

Over the years, I've regularly heard assumptions made about adoptee blog authors, especially if the authors push for adoption reform, discuss the complicated macro issues of adoption, question unethical practices, or put words to the grief, loss, and other complexities that come hand-in-hand with adoption.

These assumptions about adopted folks aren't pretty, and they are far from fair.

It often happens like this. An adoptee writes a blog post -- one that gives voice to a complexity, to a deep pain, or to an insight or perspective of the imperfect system.

This leaves some readers uncomfortable or angry, or perhaps they just plain disagree. Maybe they don't want to think that their own adopted children will ever feel the same pain or discomfort, or maybe they don't want to believe that the very system that gave them their children comes with grief or with questionable practices. Or maybe the reader is an adoptee who feels protective and loyal to adoption because it gave her new parents or because she's only known her own experience and no one else's.

And then in their disagreement or discomfort, some readers react with assumptions... as if believing these assumptions will negate the message of the blog post.

She's just angry she was adopted.
He hasn't come to terms with his adoption.
Obviously she's not thankful she was adopted.
If only he'd focus on the blessings of adoption.
She is consumed with adoption and doesn't care about anything else.

It's maddening when I hear adoptee voices being discounted or silenced because of these assumptions.

It's frustrating that I feel l the need to say that I'm not in this field because I'm angry or because I don't like my adoptive parents (hi dad and mom!) or because I had a terrible childhood as an adoptee.

Devoting my professional life to adoption education is more than about me and my own experiences.

When my years as an adoption agency social worker started nearly a decade ago, I was quickly intrigued by what I learned about the lifelong implications for those around me. Reading adoption literature, attending conferences, listening to experts in the field, and having conversations with countless adoptees, adoptive parents, adoption professionals, and birth/first parents, I yearned to learn as much as I possibly could.

This professional role challenged me.

It forced me to look past and beyond my own experiences and roles as an adopted person (and adoptive mother) so that I could listen to others who though in the same roles, may have processed things differently or have had vastly different experiences.

I educate about adoption because I hear from parents that they need support and information. I educate because I feel strongly that social workers and agencies who help connect parents and children through adoption have an ethical obligation to provide education and support throughout the lifetime. 

I write because adoption is not a universal experience and because many still rely on anecdotal stories or the media to shape their perceptions of adoptees and adoption. I write because I hope people will consider a different perspective. I write because adopted person perspectives are sorely lacking in conversations about adoption. I write about adoption to offer a multi-dimensional perspective that challenges the perceived adoption voices of naivety, bliss, or anger. I write because little to nothing is black and white in adoption.

I write because we're all in this together, and we all still have learning to do.