Monday, April 11, 2011

Oh yeah, well ok then, shame on you for not being angry...("Uh-oh, I'm an angry adoptee" Part 2)

If we're gonna play that game, then, I say shame on you if you don't feel angry or outraged by the "goings-ons" behind and within adoption.

To continue my rant from the original post, "Uh-oh, I'm an angry adoptee," here are some specifics on what makes me angry--for those who need a bit more clarity or are just curious, and certainly for those who can relate (in no particular order...and try to remember that I'm not the only one who thinks or feels these things, so that you don't mistakenly pigeonhole me as the self-indulgent exception):

  • I'm angry that the majority of my friends and family don't understand the complexities and realities of my adoption experience--that I can't even begin to talk about it without being immediately judged, condemned, corrected, and/or patronized.
  • ...that I am not taken seriously because of the emotion I display. I'm angry that I must be a paragon of composure and pleasantry to at least be perfunctorily heard and by a slim chance taken seriously.
  • ...that I am constantly caught in between. And that I am expected to be just dandy with that because I was "saved."
  • ...when I express anger, everything else that I've ever said or felt is suddenly forgotten by everyone else, and I immediately become the one-dimensional "angry, unhealthy, toxic adoptee."
  • ...that my words, emotions, views get twisted and perverted by others who refuse to hear what I'm actually saying because they think they already know me and all there is to know about adoptees.
  • ...I can't just be angry without having to field everyone else's judgments and condemnations. I'm angry that I can't just be angry without others expecting a disclaimer or at least an explanation that will make them feel better. And it makes me angry that the anger I express obscures and discounts the grief and sorrow I feel.
  • ...that being angry is treated as the cardinal sin by adoptive parents and the like.
  • ...so many adoptive parents still refuse to acknowledge the role that international adoption plays in perpetuating the corruption in the adoption system. Similarly, I'm angry that so many AP's refuse to see the role that international adoption plays in perpetuating child abandonment and its root causes.
  • ...that Korea and my Korean family rejected me when I was so helpless, powerless, and innocent. I'm equally angry that, despite that fact, I'm viewed as a traitor for still wanting to know and love them.
  • ...certain adoptive parents view themselves as near saints and hence get defensive and dismissive when we (adoptees and others) address the imbalance and corruption inherent to the adoption system.
  • ...about the deception and misrepresentation that adoption agencies continue to propagate to portray a grossly oversimplified and biased picture of adoption that is detrimental and hurtful to the families and children involved.
  • ...that as one with a Christian background I am expected even more so to feel nothing but unquestionable gratitude, awe, and wonder about my adoption and am viewed as a misguided and heretical dissident if I express antonymous sentiments.
  • ...I am viewed as an ungrateful brat or unstable miscreant for even thinking such thoughts or asking such questions.

But beneath the anger there is also hurt and pain that I, and so many others, are not understood, but rather that we are dismissed and further rejected as nuisances and blemishes or pitied as unfortunate apples gone bad.

And no, I do not refer to the pain and hurt so that you'll feel sorry for me and want to pat me on my head and say "there, there now." Just as I don't want to be dismissed when I express my anger, I don't want to be pitied or patronized when I acknowledge the pain. And no, anger is not a "cover" for the pain--it's a reaction to the injustices, wrongs, and willful ignorance that lead to the pain.

To sum it all up, as Amanda at Declassified Adoptee put it, "Loss, poverty, stigma, taboo, women, children, and family rights injustices....aren't those things people SHOULD be angry about?"

12 comments:

Amanda said...

Well said!

Sometimes I suspect that the responses you, I, and other female adoptees get are not only because of our adopted status but because of our gender as well. Showing emotion is more acceptable of women because we are perceived as being weaker than men. But that's just it; because we are women, emotion causes us to be perceived as irrational and weak.

A man who takes a stand is a leader, a woman who takes a stand is an unbearable...you-know-what.

Perhaps it is time for others to investigate why they react to your voice and other adoptee voices the way that they do, before deciding we're the ones who are wrong :-)

Susie said...

The people who give adoptees (and first parents) the "bitter and angry" labels really need to examine why they have such a reaction to the truths of adoption loss that we speak of.

You are a powerful writer, I'm so glad that you are off the bandwagon and speaking your truths! If your words weren't so powerful, you wouldn't have people scared of them and trying to dismiss them with the angry label.

Write on!!

Melissa said...

"A man who takes a stand is a leader, a woman who takes a stand is an unbearable...you-know-what."

Indeed, Amanda!

Honestly, I'm not a feminist, but obviously, I am a woman and an Asian one at that, which makes me wonder also, in my case, if being an Asian woman (due to certain stereotypes) further complicates expectations that I should be an emotionally docile and compliant little girl...Honestly, I think at times I probably go a little overkill trying to counter that stereotypical perception because for so long and so often I used to allow that stereotype to govern me...

But dang it, people, I have a personality--that's all my own, thank you--and it happens to be a complex one!

Wendy said...

I take exception to you not being a feminist, another area where people truly do not understand the meaning instead thinking of the stereotype. Do you believe women and men deserve equal rights under the law? If the answer is yes, you are a feminist.

Melissa said...

LOL, Wendy.

feminism: the advocacy of women's rights on the grounds of political, social, and economic equality to men.

Honestly, I do believe men amd women are of equal worth, but I actually don't necessarily believe we should have the same roles politically, socially or economically.

I know, I'm weird that way (one of many ways).

Von said...

We have to play to our strengths, something that in the struggle for equality rather got lost along the way.Men and women often have different strengths and abilities, they can complement each other.

Michelle said...

Hi Melissa,

The song that has been playing in my head while reading your recent posts is Not Ready to Make Nice by the Dixie Chicks.

"I’m not ready to make nice
I’m not ready to back down
I’m still mad as hell and
I don’t have time to go round and round and round
It’s too late to make it right
I probably wouldn’t if I could
‘Cause I’m mad as hell
Can’t bring myself to do what it is you think I should"

This song resonates with me as does your post. Though I am a first mother, not an adoptee, I can so much relate to what you say about "friends and family not understanding the complexities and realities of my adoption experience." My family has labeled me as angry since I found my daughter 4 years ago. I have not spoken to my mother since my reunion. I guess she does not or cannot acknowledge her role in the loss of my daughter. I think, perhaps, that is what you are seeking, too. Acknowledgment from loved ones that you have experienced a tremendous loss...and you will never be "over it." You have every right to feel angry. And you have every right to want to get to know your family of origin.

You, Amanda (Declassified) and several others give me validation through your blogs. I really appreciate your courage in sharing such personal and raw experiences. Please do not allow others to censor you.

Melissa said...

@ Von, "We have to play to our strengths, something that in the struggle for equality rather got lost along the way. Men and women often have different strengths and abilities, they can complement each other."

What you say is so true that I had to quote it here again!

Melissa said...

@ Michelle- I dig it. Not an avid Dixie Chicks follower, but I can completely relate to these lyrics. Thanks for sharing. :)

otjo said...

I am an AP who lives and has adopted in a developing country. The demand for children has already begun to generate a 'trade' and the numbers of children being adopted internationally has increased expedentially. Meanwhile local families who would like to adopt are pushed to the back of the line. It also feeds into a sickening dynamic that somehow a foreign culture is better for the child. Poverty is complex and is not an expression of culture. When an industry develops around adoption it makes it easier for governments to neglect the rights of children and birth families many of whom in my experience are vulnerable people. I am outraged at the questions I have been asked since I adopted about 'how easy was it?' I do not believe that you should tone down your anger at all. Your feelings, your rights, your blog! You should not have to modify your perspective to allow people to stay in denial about what us happening behind the scenes in adoption. There are genuine cases for sure ( I hope I am one of them!) Wanna be outraged? Just start an agency selling British children to rich Asian families for a better life and see how that works out for everyone. (am being flippant not because I think it's funny but when the situation is reversed it seems harder to ignore the inequity)

My personal opinion is that as a peer group of adoptees, first families and APs we should all be advocating for better protection of the rights of those affected. We may not be able to influence the governments in these far away lands, but surely we can make a noise in the countries that buy into this?

It is probably worth remembering that many of the countries where international adoption takes place have oppressive governments, virtually no advocacy and corruption is rife. Tread carefully!

Am I being hypocritical? I did it. I am part of the problem. I love my son but it doesnt take away the anger at the situation that led me to him. I love him so much I wish he could have been spared the pain that he will no doubt have to experience as an adoptee. I will stand by him and take everything thrown at us but it doesnt mean that I will silently stand by and condone this industry because recognizing it makes me feel uncomfortable. As you said Melissa, my choice. Not his, not his first families. Mine. I have to face it warts 'n all.

Anonymous said...

Wish you have peace of mind....

Tara said...

Thank you!