Monday, November 1, 2010

I think she is a TAD self centered. Find a balance lady!

[Thank you, Amanda at The Declassified Adoptee for furnishing the following quote:]

"Adult adoptees are a primary source for knowledge about adoption as an institution. Their perceptions are unique, for adult adoptees are actually the only persons who can tell us what it is like to live adoption in a society in which most people are not adopted."

~Child Welfare League of America

* * *

Wow, so someone in a forum, China Adopt Talk Forum, linked to my most recent post, "A Few Pet Peeves." It was interesting to say the least to stumble across different people's, particularly AP's outside of my blog, reactions to what I said. First of all, apparently, it is proven again and again, that no matter what disclaimers or clarifications I add, folks always manage to misinterpret or completely miss my point. Oh well, that's just the way the poo hits the fan sometimes.

Most interesting, however, was the following response to my post directed at me made by DivaMamma: "I think she is a TAD self centered. Find a balance lady!" Followed by several other AP's who concurred with her statement in one form or another. (But it seems the majority got what I was saying...)

Certainly, everyone is entitled to their opinion. And who knows maybe the woman is right...maybe I'm a tad self-centered. I've honestly never thought of myself in that way, but it never hurts to be willing to examine oneself and be willing to consider the criticisms of others.

I do want to clarify for others, however, that contrary to what one may assume, I don't blog about my experiences, because I enjoy talking about myself or because I think I'm the best thing to come along since YouTube or because I think I have something more important to say than others do. But, obviously, I do have some things to say.

For a little "behind the scenes," every time I hit the "publish" button, I tremble a bit and a little shot of anxiety runs through me, because I know that someone is going to have something not so pleasant to say or I'm going to upset someone or most often, someone is going to misinterpret or misjudge what I am actually saying. I can take it--it's not a problem. It comes with the territory. I realize that I'm opening myself up to criticism and misinterpretation by blogging. But blogging is actually a vulnerable art for me. It scares me at times and despite what folks may think, it's not easy putting my heart out there and sharing so openly and honestly. I'm actually pretty sensitive, but over time, I've learned to manage it and not take things so personally, even when they're personally directed. Everyone has their reasons...

But I continue to blog about my experiences, because I do actually think it might help others, which I guess, to some folks could be identified as being vain or self-centered, because inherent in my logic is the assumption that by sharing my experiences others may benefit. Maybe that's conceited. But how else are we to reach out and help one another if we never think we have anything valuable to offer?

I'm pretty much guessing that most of the folks who agreed with the above comment by DivaMamma did not take the time to read any of the rest of my blog. Or if they did, their conclusions had already been formed and anything else they read would have been filtered through those already established conclusions.

Furthermore, I think perhaps that the AP's who come to such conclusions about me and my blog forget what the focus of this blog is: sharing the experiences of one adult adoptee (and often of other adoptees) for the purpose and hope of educating others about the wide range of experiences that characterize the adoptee experience.

But I guess if I'm going to express that I think some AP's are addicted to martyrdom, I have to be willing to take what I dish out. Fair enough.

I guess what the comment made by DivaMamma brings me back to is the issue of the labels given to adult adoptees who offer up candid criticisms or who speak openly about the more "negative" emotions and realities regarding their adoption experiences. We can't seem to escape being labeled not only as "angry" but also I guess, at times, as "self-centered." No doubt there are self-centered people in the world--it's actually quite a modern epidemic of narcissism with YouTube and Facebook and so forth.

Yes, at times, I know it seems like I inordinately focus on my experiences as an adoptee, but it's not because I'm necessarily self-centered (or maybe I am...). Rather, I express and talk about my experiences because that's the main point of this blog--to share about my experiences as an adoptee with the purpose of educating.

So, other adoptees who blog for similar reasons, are we all self-centered because we share our experiences and perspectives with the goal of educating and raising awareness among the adoption community?

I certainly don't blog for the "fun of it" (because honestly, I don't find it all that fun, especially when I have to manage certain comments...), or because I like sharing about my humiliating and degrading experiences of racism and loss and grief and discrimination or because I enjoy feeling like I'm under a microscope or because I think I'm some kind of martyr. Please.

No, I don't do it for kicks, or because I think I'm so amazing. I do it because I think that maybe it might help others--that by sharing about my heartache, my anger, my experiences, it might help both other adoptees and myself to realize we're neither alone nor freakish, and it might help AP's, PAP's, social workers, spouses, etc. to better understand what adoptees may feel or think.

Lastly, what I find comically ironic is that in two of my "pet peeves," #5 and #6, I stated:

"Adoptive parents who use the experiences of some adoptees to invalidate and discount the experiences of other adoptees. This one really irks me. Again, the self-justification song and dance are counterproductive and miss the point."


"Even worse--when adoptees do this to each other. I've encountered it over and over, adoptees pitting themselves against one another rather than showing understanding and respect for each other and the variations in our experiences. Look, folks, let's recognize that there is a spectrum of adoptee experiences ranging from those who are happy and resolved about their adoptions to those who are enraged and disgusted with their adoptions and everything in between. Why does one have to invalidate the other? With as complex as adoption is, doesn't it make sense that the range of experiences is going to vary vastly and that each experience is just as valid? C'mon, my fellow adoptees...and Adoptive Parents...stop pitting one against the other..."

Apparently some readers completely missed the point I was trying to make in the above statements, and did exactly what I was trying to help people not to do--dismiss or discredit the experiences and points of view of other adoptees simply because they differ from your own.

Furthermore, one parent in the forum also misinterpreted what I was saying in Pet Peeve #9 and commented: "she is spot on from an adoptee perspective on many of these except #9. i think adoption is not just about the child, or the ap, but rather the WHOLE family."

I actually wasn't saying that adoption is only about the child, but that parents who are addicted to martyrdom make adoption all about themselves to the detriment and neglect of their child. I agree that adoption involves not only an entire family, but entire families, plural--including not simply the adoptive family but the original family also.

Lastly, of course, I actually do have a life outside of my blog. I actually rarely talk about adoption and my experiences as an adoptee outside of my blog with anyone other than my husband and a few fellow adoptees.

But that can be the danger of a blog that is so focused on my experiences as an adoptee--people often have difficulty seeing past it, and they define me only according to my blog. Well, I suppose I can't hold it against them. I guess I've done it to myself, which makes me empathize even more with my fellow adoptees who have since exited the blogosphere and retired their blogs. It gets to a point where you begin to wonder whether it's even worth it...

No, actually, I suppose it is worth it. I realize it's not even so much that I think what I share may benefit others, but I have benefited from what others have been willing to share with me...even those who exclaim that I'm self-centered. Helps keep me in check, I suppose, and helps me to have a sober estimation of myself, yes? And ultimately, I've got to practice what I preach...


Anonymous said...

aren't most blogs self-centered? you are writing about yourself and your experiences. i don't think it's a bad thing, especially when there are APs out there who are dying to get inside your brain, so they can understand their adopted children a little better. it's a huge service to them as well as for adoptees who want to come and not be alone in the adoptee experience.

i think it would be worse to be self-congratulatory or self-promoting; as in your Pet Peeve list #7-9.

Real Daughter said...

Well....her name says it all, lol. I actually have no problems when ap's (or anyone for that matter) call me "self centered". I am. Someone has to be all about me. None of my parents ever were!

This is YOUR blog, just as my blog is my blog. It is about US, our perspectives and experiences.

I have kept quiet for almost 45 years. No more. If my experience makes someone think, "Wow...I never thought of that" or 'This chick is a whack job", I did what I set out to accomplish...I made them think.

Third Mom said...

As if APs hovering around forums picking apart adoptee thoughts isn't self-centered?

It would be downright laughable if it wasn't so dismissive.

But then again, when I checked out her blog (called "Our Journey to Our Chinese Dumpling" in her forum profile) I wasn't surprised.


Triona Guidry said...

I've experienced the "self-centered" comment also when sharing my experience as an adult adoptee. In fact, it seems like adoptees cannot express anything about adoption that isn't 100% happy-fuzzy *without* being called "self-centered." As if we adoptees are not supposed to have individual identities, as if we should subsume ourselves to the expectations and desires of others.

Like Linda, I'm the only one who's going to make it about me, for once. I am the only one who cares if I obtain information about my origins. I am the only one trying to understand myself with no heritage or context of blood relatives. Why is that "self-centered?" People who aren't adopted take these things for granted. It's only when we adoptees start expressing our own opinions that we're suddenly "self-centered."

I, for one, appreciate that you are sharing your authentic adoptee voice. We need to hear more adoptee voices. Our society is too good at shutting them out.

FWIW, I get that same sinking feeling every time I post a new blog. Sharing yourself is scary, but if it helps someone else it's worth it.

The Declassified Adoptee said...

Oh no, how dare an adoptee blog, or any adoption-related blog be adoptee-centered. What is the world coming to?


Cassi said...

Wow! Really? It's all about you?

Somehow I thought, coming to your blog to read about your experiences made it very clear that it was going to be all about you.

And that's what we need, I believe, more blogs, more adoptees, willing to face those who want to beat them down, and speak up about THEM and THEIR feelings and experiences.

Mei Ling said...

"Someone has to be all about me. None of my parents ever were!"

Brb, loling forever. XD

Von said...

Hugs all, in this time of heightened adoption awareness!
I would have thought that if a blog by an adoptee about adoption didn't speak the truth about adoption as that adoptee sees it there's not much point is there? Wouldn't making it pretty be what some of us did for a long time, maybe until we started blogging and found our allies? We make ourselves vulnerable every post and should be applauded for our courage.
What adopters and others need to remember is that adoptee blogs are primarily for adoptees to express their true thoughts and feelings often for the first time.A little respect if you will, for our experience, our unique viewpoint and for the things you might learn if you open your minds.The more you protest the more you reveal.

Anonymous said...

I have been reading your blog for a while. Just wanted to say thanks for your blog and putting yourself out there. I appreciate your honesty and the time you take to post. As an AP with a 4 and 6 year old I always feel I have so much more to learn. Please, Please remember there are many APs who need your stories and to learn from you!!!

Sunday Koffron Taylor said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sunday Koffron Taylor said...

I thought it was a phenomenal post, and very balanced. I think what you are doing is brave and honest. It looked to me like some of those APs truly understood what you were trying to say, that is what is important. Sadly those who are unable to learn from the experiences and mistakes of others are destine to live with the consequences of making their own.

You just keep doing what you do.

Mia_h_n said...

You touched on so many of the points that I'm forever amazed apparently elude some people.

Of course your blog is going to be from your perspective - I wonder what they'd called it if it wasn't?! And of course it's gonna be about adoption, it's even in the title for Pete's sake.

But of course this is only part of you and your life. To me, you are way too knowledgeable and articulate for this to be your whole world!

And I always agree that if anyone would lable you as an angry adoptee they must have not read your blog more extensively or have made up their minds beforehand - probably due to their own fears...
How can you be "angry" just because you are honest? First of all, who isn't angry from time to time?? Anything else would be a bit odd..and scary, and secondly, why does it have to "angry" as soon as it isn't all roses?

You know I appreciate your openess and honesty and willingness to put yourself out there. I for one have no idea where I would have been without it.

And please, if you were really self centered you wouldn't use statements like DivaMamma's to check yourself, but rather dismiss them all together, perhaps as angry...?

LT said...

You are truly beautiful to share with us. Thank YOU!

Yoli said...

Margie and Linda said it best.

"It would be downright laughable if it wasn't so dismissive."


"call me "self centered". I am. Someone has to be all about me. None of my parents ever were!"

Reena said...

Ditto that yeah-- most blogs are self centered. Duh! I wonder how long it took her to come up with that. Blogging for many is like journaling-- interactive journaling in a lot of cases-- what isn't self centered about that?

I do read China Adopt Talk--I'm surprised I missed this discussion on there-- but I do not frequent it as much as I once did.

I always appreciate what you share on your blog. I don't think it is self centered at all-- I think it is very giving and I do think you help people. I think reading your perspective and the perspective of other Adoptees will help me to be a better amom.

It isn't always easy to read. AP tend to mention anger-- Yah think? Who wouldn't be angry?

I hear a lot of pain in the blogs I read and if there was any way I could ever prevent my daughters from feeling the emotional pain I read-- of course I would want to do that. But-- I'm not so delusional as to think that I can

No amount of love will prevent it-- because it isn't even about the love I feel for my daughters or the love they feel (and I hope they continue to feel) toward me.

What I hope to be able to provide and what I strive for is to create a loving family environment for my daughters so that they can grow up feeling secure and that it is OK to wonder about their first family and talk about the what ifs and not fair, to ask questions, feel sad, be angry, want me to be there or want me to leave them alone with it-- knowing it is OK because I will always love them and support them.

It isn't a competition.

One thing though, I caution the disclaimer used for us Aparents-- that when we read "Adoptvie Parents" that if what follows doesn't apply to us then it doesn't apply.

Don't be too quick to think, "oh that doesn't apply to me."

I try to do something a little different-- when I read the words "Adoptive Parent" on your blog and the blogs of other Adoptees, I ask myself-- where am I in this context?

Do I do this? Do I do/say anything remotely close to it?

Have I done this?

I try to open myself up to that criticism so I can recognize areas of thinking or acting that I need to work on as a parent.

It has been my experience in life that all too often folks will take the position of "oh that's not me so it doesn't apply." Usually-- these are the people that the situation most applies to-- this is true for a lot of 'things' including us adoptive parents.

Kris said...

I for one hope you will continue to blog because I have learned so much from you. Sometimes it is hard to read but as long as its honest, that's OK. I don't know what it is like to be adopted but I want to try and understand for my daughter's sake. I really wish people (on all sides) would take time to read and understand others' point of view before jumping all over each other and flinging names and insults.

FWIW, it is not just in the adoption blogosphere - as I'm sure you know. I am very involved in the special needs blogosphere (specifically autism) and the "jumping all over you" happens there as well. Sometimes I take a break from all blogs.

ashley said...

As a future adoptive parent, I applaud you for sharing your experiences and helping me to prepare for having an adopted child who might someday have similar thoughts, questions, and experiences.

Keep up the good work.

And yes, blogs are personal. Just because yours has a little more popularity than say, a personal diary of topics that are irrelevant to other people, doesn't mean you should be talking about anyone or anything that doesn't pertain directly to you and you alone. That is, if that is what you want to write about. Don't feel guilty- it's a blog, not a newspaper article.