If you’ve researched adoption online or participated in a cross-triad adoption group, chances are you’ve encountered someone who seems vehemently, angrily, staunchly anti-adoption. Some say there is NO circumstance in which adoption is called for. It’s just that devastating, that inhumane, that unnecessary.
When coming across such a tirade, whether in an article or in a comment, you probably think that the rational choices would be to 1) engage to tell that wackadoo all the reasons she’s wrong, or 2) click the red X on the window before any of the venom burns your eyes or your heart.
Surely there is no value at all in reading such vitriol.
If the adage “hurt people hurt people” holds true, then we can allow that such high emotion comes from deep hurt. Typically, people don’t become venomous in the absence of some sort of trauma. Something must have happened to cause that well of pain, a profound hurt that unleashes the urge to lash out.
A Princess Bride Reference
Could it be that there IS something to be gained in investigating what may have contributed to such trauma? After all, if we know our way around the adoption Fire Swamp, then maybe we’d be better able to map out where the Rodents of Unusual Size and Fire Spurts await. If we discover clues about how adoption landmines tend to get planted, perhaps we can prevent them from being planted.
Maybe there is something we can learn from those who have experiences different from our own. Parents who have entered or are entering into the sacred realm of adoption might find something to learn from such a profound hurt, factors that may inform the way they choose to parent.
But it’s not always easy to separate the proverbial wheat from the chaff. It can be a challenge to monitor and deal with our own triggers when reading words that come from a hurt place, an anti-place of something we revere — adoption itself. As we read harsh words about the thing that fulfilled our most important dreams — those of building our family — we have to sort through the raw emotion to get to the possible nuggets of insight that coexist.
Who Has Been Called Anti-Adoption?
Just because someone shares about the imperfection of their adoption experience doesn’t necessarily mean they are anti-adoption. Adoption is anything BUT a black and white issue. Anyone who tells you adoption is wonderful! is just as misguided as someone who tells you adoption is horrible! In both cases, they have filtered out all but a fraction of a sliver of the whole to reach their conclusion.
We understand that adoption is a complex thing, full of joy, completion, and connection, and paradoxically tinged with grief, loss, and disconnection. By acknowledging this complexity, we are in a better position to parent our kiddos from a place of openness, to deal with What Is at any given moment, to be present for them as they deal with their issues (and not ours).
Below are examples of people who have been called “anti-adoption,” but whom I would instead consider “adoption explorers”. Each of them have taught me something critical I need to know about how to be more empathetic with my children, now teens, and in honing my own GPS system, from which I navigate my kids’ adoption issues as well as my own.
Claudia Corrigan D’Arcy, Birth Mother
Claudia was among the first to help me see adoption as anything less than AMAZING! for all involved — and I’m grateful to her for it. Carrie Goldman of the acclaimed Portrait of an Adoption series calls Claudia “rational, approachable, and willing to collaborate,” and featured her viewpoint in You Can Call Me Anti-Adoption if You Must. Be sure to read it.
On that post I commented: I really like what Claudia says: “I know we are all trying to do the best we can; we all want to be inherently, intrinsically, undeniably good.” This is a helpful lens, a common ground for us to start from.
Anne Heffron, Adopted Adult
I’m currently reading You Don’t Look Adopted, Anne’s memoir. It’s possible that some would consider the author anti-adoption, as Anne reveals how her adoptive mother’s inability to understand her point of view ended up causing untold (until now) pain.
But my takeaway is not that Anne is anti-adoption. She’s simply showing the non-adopted (like me) the challenges of being adopted, especially when the parents don’t “get it”. I value knowing such inner thoughts, for Anne’s struggles could easily be my own children’s one day. Knowing better helps me do better.
Will all of these resonate for you? Probably not. But do most of them contain nuggets of wisdom that may help inform you about your son’s or daughter’s innermost thoughts? I have found that to be true.
#Flipthescript Adoptees like Jodi, JoAnne, and Lynn
I myself have turned over my blog to “anti-adoption” adoptees for the past few Novembers — National Adoption Awareness Month — for the #flipthescript movement, in which adoptees take back the narrative of their experiences. Check out these three counterviews for ways to better understand what your son or daughter needs from you.
So How About Door #3?
So the next time you come across an article, post, or comment that seems to be anti-adoption, try this simple alternative to 1) joining the fray with your own strong feelings and 2) closing the window to avoid being hurt.
Just listen. What can you glean from this person’s viewpoint that helps you to better understand the complexities of adoption, especially as it relates to being the parent your child needs you to be?
Listening without getting triggered is good practice for doing the same for your child.