Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Oh when the saints come marching in...

(I actually wrote this in 2010, about a year ago, but never published it...since I'm low on time these days, I decided what the heck, I'll go ahead with it...for those of you who might have noticed, I accidentally published it a couple days ago under the original date...)

Don't get me wrong, I appreciate Adoptive Parents who work as allies to adoptees.

I appreciate those who are willing to admit to and face the harder realities of adoption. I appreciate AP's who educate not only themselves but others about the pitfalls and flaws. I am glad for those who are not too timid to speak up on behalf of adoptees.

And yet, as I surf the adoption community blogosphere, something that stands out to me repeatedly is how much attention and focus are given to Adoptive Parents. Not only is there a high volume of traffic on these blogs, but they're the ones to whom other adoptive parents turn, always the ones presenting and speaking at adoption conferences and the like, always the ones whose two cents are valued like gold...

And to a certain degree, rightfully so.

But what bothers me is not that adoptive parent blogs thrive in massive numbers or that adoptive parents are presenting and speaking at conferences--but that adult adoptees are not equally represented.

It's not about jealousy, folks. Please. It's about that ever-present imbalance, neglect, ignorance--whatever you want to call it--that favors, turns to, addresses, focuses on the Adoptive Parent over the Adoptee.

I know a lot of great adoptive parents. Their level and depth of understanding and insight comfort and inspire me.

But they are not my voice. They are not the ones I want representing me as an adult adoptee. I want to represent me. I want other adult adoptees to represent me, to represent themselves.

Of course, AP's know what it's like to be an adoptive parent. But Adoptive Parents will never know what it's like to be an Adoptee (unless, of course, they happen to an adoptee who has also adopted...).

When it comes to how adoption affects the adopted person, when it comes to the adoptee psyche and experience, when it comes to what life is like as an adoptee on a daily basis--in school, at work, in the grocery store, out at a restaurant, etc.--Adoptive Parents are not the experts. They're simply not the ones with the expertise who should be educating each other on what adoptee life is like, about the realities of adoption, and its effects on the adopted person.

Not that they can't learn and therefore, become allies to adoptees and to a certain degree advocate and educate. But the fact that adoptive parents are the ones tapped on the shoulder when it comes to educating others or speaking to others or addressing the media's questions, etc., etc. just makes me more than a little frustrated.

And it's not like this subject hasn't been addressed before. I'm not the first to recognize it or blog about it.

But when the heck is it going to CHANGE?

When will adult adoptees finally be recognized as the voices to which to listen? When will adult adoptees finally be the primary educators when it comes to the adoption experience. When will adoptive parents take the back seat and stop driving the vehicle?

Why is it so maddeningly difficult to make our voices, as adult adoptees, not only heard, but established, and not as some cutesy, tear-jerker speaker, but as a valid, serious, primary expert on the adoptee experience?

It doesn't matter what we do--whether we get angry or get nice, whether we scream or we cry, whether we speak softly or harshly--we're still patronized, not taken seriously, treated like children, heard but not listened to, acknowledged but only in a superficial, condescending way--like patting a child on the head and saying, "There, there, now..."

I'm so stinkin' tired of always trying to get out of the shadows. I'm so tired of trying to prove that our voices are valid, are worthy, are necessary.

It makes me want to stab my eyes out. Okay, sorry, that's a bit extreme.

But, seriously.

Those AP's who happen to stumble upon or read an adult adoptee blog once or twice every month or so are lauded as progressive--patting themselves on the backs.

Puh-lease. Give me a break.

I don't mean to sound like an insensitive jerk. But I'm just feeling so fed up these days, and weary...

But I'll keep chuggin' and pluggin' because my dang relentless nature won't let me do otherwise....


Mei Ling said...

"Why is it so maddeningly difficult to make our voices, as adult adoptees, not only heard, but established, and not as some cutesy, tear-jerker speaker, but as a valid, serious, primary expert on the adoptee experience?"

Because some of us criticize adoption and adoptive parents can't stand that.

Criticising adoption means reform must happen. Having reform means less adoptions. Less adoptions means less people will have the chance to be parents.

Reena said...

There is an annual adopton conference close to my home. I was on the fence about attending this year as they tend to have the 'same ole, same ole.'

This year I did attend because there were several workshop choices being led by Adult Adoptees. These workshops were the best ones I have participated in. I mentioned this in my questionnaire/remarks on the workshop at the end of the day and also commented that they (the conference organizers) need to do more workshops led by Adult Adoptees.

Beyond Normal Mom said...

one thought that came to me as I read this the first time was that adoptive parent blogs may get more traffic because they have the draw of cute kid pictures and cute kid stories. I still have so much to work out on my blog, but I am adding you to the blogs I read... it's kind of an advertisement. Please keep sharing and keep educating... some are listening

Toni said...

I have posted before on your blog, but I'm listening and I thank you for your relentless voice. In "the real world" where I live I am constantly telling other APs who are scared of their child's "Korean-ness" or the idea of travel or birth family search to go to Google and type in "Korean Adult Adoptee" and READ. Doing so years ago and continuing to read has changed how I parent and how I think. I think Mei Ling is right - when I share with parents about our trips to Korea and our growing relationship with my son's halmoni most people are shocked and can't understand why I would do these things. But, I have to say to Mei Ling that some adoptive parents are also criticizing adoption and do realize that reform is long past due.