I posted something on my FB page a few days ago that I’m sure was rather inflammatory towards adoptees. l hate that it was inflammatory. I appreciate a good pal on Twitter engaging me on the post. All that said, I’ve left it up, despite the fact that I think the author is a bit of a hack.
I’ve you’ve followed the blog for a while, or just dug into the archives, you’ll know that I’m a huge adoptee fan, almost groupie level sometimes (see FB posts about Angela Tucker and the goodies I recently received). They’ve given me so much insight into what must be going on inside Hope’s head. They are an invaluable voice in adoption, and I’m going to keep listening because I know they make me a better mom.
But I’m also an AP who’s often in her feelings about what brought her to adoption, how hard raising a kid is, how hard raising a kid with some issues is, how sad and depressed I get, how hard I fight to stay above water, how hard I have to suppress my own ‘stuff’, how I feel I’m failing at this parenting thing, much less this AP thing that seems to require more of my than I ever imagined and the list of feelings goes on and on. I have this identity that goes beyond being Hope’s mom.
The truth is, I’ve had to make peace in my life that I’m probably not as happy as I thought I would be as a parent. Another truth?
I sometimes wish I had just left my life alone. I’ve said before it was a good life. Uttering this truth is a scary, ugly thing.
Getting all the stuff you thought you wanted in life, is well, not all it’s cracked up to me. And it’s not that I want more stuff, it’s just everything is tinged with loss…like everything is tinged with loss.
I am a parent to a daughter whom I adore, but I am unable to birth children—a truth that pains me greatly. I can’t *fix* my daughter’s troubles—a truth that is so complicated it just sucks; I mean I can help her heal but…I don’t know where it will take us. Relationships with family and friends are so different—some have thrived but many are irrevocably changed and not necessarily for the better. I lost my church—I grieve this nearly as much as the loss of my fertility because it shook the foundation of what I believe spiritually. Dammit, even my dog The Furry One passed away; he was one of few constants that joined Before AP and After AP. I could go on, but why, right?
Since I wrote my last pissy post on the drama in adoption support groups, I’ve largely shied away from them. Many of them are simply not safe places. They aren’t healthy and they aren’t supportive because it feels like everyone is fighting to see who is hurt more, playing vocabulary police, lots of “if you can’t take it, you shouldn’t do XX,” lots of name calling and lots of power plays.
Frankly, I’m grateful that I didn’t join any groups before I adopted Hope; I probably would’ve dropped the whole adoption thing and that would’ve been awful. I might be sad about parts of my life, but I love that Hope is my daughter.
My mother has told me for years that hurt people hurt people. This is probably one of the truest things she’s ever said.
I look at support groups, and I see a bunch of marginalized folks—APs, Birth Parents, Adoptees—squabbling over their experiences and the validity of their feelings in the adoption experience.
The things about feelings is that whether we externally get them validated or not, we feel what we feel—the good, the bad, and the ugly.
And yes, we are all marginalized groups when it comes to the general public. Here’s my diversity breakdown: We’ve all got these images that we rally against—APs are “saviors”, Adoptees are the “lucky saved” and Birth Parents are the folks kids are “saved from.” This is a super simplified version, so work with me. That’s all the general public knows and sees of this community. And unless we are an obviously adoptive family, we move through the world like a duck—smooth on top, paddling like hell underwater. The world doesn’t understand our trials, and frankly they don’t want to hear about them because that breaks the spell of the do-gooder narrative.
So, where does that leave us? It leaves us to build community among ourselves with a power structure that mimics our marginalization. Saviors on top, everyone else on the bottom. Is it really any wonder why folks get mad? Why comments go from pleasant to fury in a hurry? It shouldn’t shock us.
Add to the fact that everyone hurts in some way, and online support groups are a powder keg.
Now, the point of me writing this post is really about me working through my own feelings when I engage online. I recognize my privilege, I try to stand down and help amplify voice, I try to be a good ally, and I hope to get better at that as I grow. I also realize that with this privilege it’s tough—and not fair–to ask other marginalized people to give us APs a break sometimes, but well…the truth is we could use a kind word and a turned cheek sometimes too. I say and do stupid ish on an hourly basis, I’m sure other folks do to. Sometimes we all just need to give each other a break.
Holistically, our experiences and feelings with other members of the adoption triad isn’t really either/or, it’s both/and. None of us in the triad seem to get the communication thing right a lot. All of us type through pain and muck. It’s easy to forget that our experiences are our own, they are anecdotal; they can’t always be generally applied. It’s easy to forget that we’re supposed to be on the same team. It’s easy to forget that we all just want to raise healthy families in supportive environments and that every engagement doesn’t have to be a PhD crash course what we’re all doing wrong—this goes for everyone in the triad; it’s true for us all.
It should be all about the both-and. Always the both-and.
It should be about compassion. It should be about hope and caring. It should also be about education, but also mindful of delivery and purpose for all of us.
It doesn’t mean that there won’t be disagreements or even all out rows, but it doesn’t have to be nasty, it doesn’t have to be discouraging, it doesn’t have to be diminishing, it doesn’t have to be dismissive.
It can and should be supportive; it should be uplifting, it should be encouraging, it should be challenging in ways that improve not tear down.
So my call for the whole community, is to just try to do better. And since this is The Year of the Try, the success can simply be found in the attempt to meet each other where we are.