When Support Groups Jump the Shark

So, for about 4 or 5 months I’ve lurked a FB older child adoption support group.  I posted a few times, didn’t really get much notice.  The group is dominated by older child adoptive parents, usually women, and overwhelmingly international adoptions.  I never quite felt I “fit” there.  Only saw only one or two other non-White faces in the group members’ FB photos.  Couldn’t relate to some of the issues unique to international adoption.  Still I found the group to be generally educational and supportive of posters who reached out to seek advice, camaraderie, support or just to vent.  It was a fine group to just hang with the pack and lurk about.

Until the last 24 hours.  Jeesch louise!  Some people have way too much effing time on their hands.  Way too much.

A woman posted yesterday that she and her husband found themselves with a CPS case investigation concerning a bruised adoptee.  The couple had used corporal punishment and things had gone badly.  It was a sad story, and the woman was seeking prayers and support to help her navigate a very tragic and sad situation.  It was really sad.

I was raised with spanking; I don’t intend to spank Hope, nor could I since my state makes you sign a form saying you won’t.  Had I had biological kids, I might feel differently.  I don’t know all that happened in that family; it’s not my business.  They had a horrible moment that they may pay dearly for in more ways than one. Corporal punishment is a ouchy-touchy subject that I won’t debate here because it’s just not the point of the post. (<<<<See what I did there?  Stay on topic!)

What I found curious about the post was how many supposedly supportive, compassionate fellow adoptive parents WENT IN HARD.  Oh I get it, spanking, beating, corporal punishment is a controversial subject.  The mother posting knew that–I can’t imagine she just landed from the planet Zoron–but she was scared and in need of some help and prayers and compassion.  Now maybe it’s hard for some folks to have compassion for such a parent.  I can dig it, but you know I would’ve expected a couple of judgy comments and for folks to just move on.  You know the adage, if you can’t say something supportive for this mother and father who lost their ish then pass this post by.

These folks tore this mother a new one, and when she was online begging for mercy, they went in again.  She deleted her post, posted something more conciliatory, and these folks went in again.  #wheretheydothatat?

Seriously there ended up being FB blockings, accusations of harassment and bullying and all sorts of mayhem.  It was crazy.  This morning there was a grateful post thanking those folks who just said they would graciously pray for the family.  This afternoon came a post from a responder that raised the issue again and went on to shame the mother and the family without calling them by name.

No really, that happened.  Seriously, people have so much effing free time.  If we could refocus half the energy that some folks spend doing dumb ish on social media the world would really be a better place.

This shaming post went on for hours more.  As I watched it unfold, folks were debating Christian parenting, the nuanced distinctions between beating and spanking, and a bunch of “who shot John” foolishness.

As I mentioned, I usually lurk but decided to post a message about how I, as a group member who has learned a lot about parenting and was on the precipice of my daughter’s arrival, was just offended by the overall tone, lack of empathy and compassion for a family in need on the forum.  Finding support among fellow adoptive families is so important because there’s so much that other people just don’t get or understand.  So to see folks tear down each other with the nastiest posts, all in the name of “dialogue” mind you, was just sickening.  That’s not support at all.

Some motor-fingered poster decided to try to school me on what happened over the last 24 hours along with her two cents about corporal punishment.

#girlbye.

For reals?

I saw the meanie posts, the passive aggressive language, and just overall disgust that she tried to coat with the air of authority of a frequent group poster, also known in this context as a bully.  I politely responded that I saw what was happening and was disappointed in this kind of “dialogue.”  Then I went to the group settings bar and “ungrouped” myself.  Did a quickie search for another older child adoption community and sent a member request.  Let’s see what they’re serving across town.

This journey is hard enough, does there really need to be public shaming?  I mean really?  I already felt like I was way out on the periphery of this support group, why would I ever feel safe enough to post how hard life might be with Hope on some low days?  God forbid I make a big mistake and need to find someone to just send me some positive energy.  I got enough stuff to muddle through without watching a support group be anything but.

I’m all for dialogue but e-yelling and e-screaming is still yelling and screaming.  For all of the judging going on of the original poster, I can’t help, after seeing some of the nasty things parents said to each other ,wondering what’s going on in their homes.  “So, are you raising your kids with those poison fingers?”

Lesson learned:  Find a group where I can feel safe and truly be a part of a community of adoptive families.  Sure there will be disagreements, but there isn’t a need for lack of grace or compassion.  Life is much too hard and much too short.

I suppose this lesson is also more broadly life applicable.

So disappointing.

 

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About AdoptiveBlackMom

I'm a single Black professional woman living in the DC area. I adopted tween a few years ago, and this blog chronicles our journey. Feel free to contact me at adoptiveblackmom@gmail.com, on Facebook at Adoptive Black Mom, and on Twitter @adoptiveblkmom. ©www.AdoptiveBlackMom.com, 2013-2016. All rights reserved. (Don't copy my ish without credit!) View all posts by AdoptiveBlackMom

6 responses to “When Support Groups Jump the Shark

  • thosefourlittlewords

    Yikes! But to be honest, I find that a lot of parenting groups on FB can be so rude, mean, and judgmental. I’m part of a group called MAMARAMA (should be called MAMADRAMA) based here in South Florida, and I swear everyday there is a debate about breastfeeding or vaccines. It’s foolishness. For some reason, women like to shame other mothers. I don’t get it. It’s hard enough as it is. I never comment on these posts, but you’re right. Why don’t we put all this energy into something that matters?

    • AdoptiveBlackMom

      I hadn’t planned on blogging today, But I’ve struggled to find good support systems with other adoptive families similarly situated. That group went off the rails so badly I could never feel safe to post anything there. Online communities can be wonderful, but the ability to hide behind the keyboard actually makes people’s true character visible on screen. Mess.

  • puddin85

    One word came to my mind….E-THUG LMBO. People will fail us every time. I feel for that poor lady who *thought* she was in a safe zone.

  • Mimi

    I am a big time lurker. For years I’ve been lurking on blogs and forums, so it’s kind of amazing that I’ve even commented as much on blogs in the last couple of months. As such, I’ve seen forums where the conversation jumped the rails. There are certain subjects where people cannot be safe in just testing out their feelings – those subjects seem to be corporal punishment and disruption. Oh – and anyone pointing out how race and class privilege is impacting their viewpoint. I’ve learned that with forums, support groups, blogs, churches, teachers, friends, spouses – take what you can use and throw the rest away.

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