We know what adoption has “cost” us. What has “anti-adoption” cost us?

A few years after I arrived in Beirut, a French-language daily published an overview of us as adoptees looking for our roots in Lebanon. It was very “poor orphans” in tone, and it didn’t really communicate what I was feeling at the time. Later, when the Arche de Zoë scandal broke in Chad/France, I wrote an article concerning adoption/trafficking that a local newspaper saw fit to translate into Arabic and publish in its entirety. This was picked up at Dissident Voice web site, which at that time allowed for a comments section.

One of the most pointed comments received there asked me flat out: “Shouldn’t you be grateful?” Because of the technology of the web site, the emailed response included the IP number where the question originated from, and it was from the university where I was working. I replied to the question, and noted in my response that it might have been easier to just come down to my office and have the discussion with me personally; I remember feeling angry that I was being called out for what I had written.

This was the first of many incidents in my workplace where I was made to feel uncomfortable concerning my views on adoption. The discussions that came up in faculty meetings seemed aimed at re-inforcing power differentials, and there was no reason for us to be discussing things like nationality, adoption, citizenship, etc., other than to put me in check. Because of my shaky status concerning nationality, my lower rank in terms of professorial status, and my general sense of being outnumbered, I usually kept my mouth shut.

One time though, in a discussion with my superior (an adoptive mother), I was told outright: “You of all people should be pro-adoption and want to adopt!” I exclaimed that, in fact, the opposite was true. The subject never came up again, but I can’t help but think that this formed part of the political weight that would later result in my non-promotion.

In interviewing for a new job, adoption came up again; I was put on the spot: “What are you hoping to do here [by writing about adoption]?” This reflects local taboos concerning adoption and its discussion among this particular class, as well as the general feeling that I am stirring up what most would rather not think about.

And so I ask in general here: Have you ever been able to tie any kind of discrimination along these lines directly to your views on adoption? How has that played out, and what has been your response to such discrimination?

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8 thoughts on “We know what adoption has “cost” us. What has “anti-adoption” cost us?

  1. No. I have not. I don’t work in this field, have many healthy adoptive amigos and love my life. Yes, i am against trafficking. Not all kids arevtrafficked. Many are dumped. In the job market, my adoption benefits me bc it gives me a broader view/understanding of the planet.

    • Perhaps I should rephrase my question to read, “for those of you who are activated against adoption or toward reforming adoption”. Obviously if you share the dominant worldview of those who advocate for adoption you would not suffer in the workplace or otherwise. It is intriguing to me that you feel the need to define your “amigos” as “healthy”, and “loving life”; I’m not sure why this accusation need creep in here, since it only makes my point all the more valid. Finally, the idea that adoption gives one a “broader view” of the planet is directly challenged by the fact that I can (unfortunately) say the same thing about slavery, or displacement, or migrancy, etc.

    • Miriam: My understanding of trafficking would any circumstance where a financial transaction was involved in getting a human child from to to fro. Thus, it would still be trafficking whether some agent was paid to hand me from my birth mother to my adoptive parents, or to collect a fee for getting my dumped (abandoned?) self from whoever’s care (or lack of it) I was in to whoever adopted me.

      The only children I can think of who would be adopted but not trafficked would be those who, say, were transferred from a parent to a parent’s relative (or does someone collect a fee to do that? if so, it’d have to be “off the books”), or someone who literally found me wailing in the bulrushes and took me home on the spot.

    • Your comment leaves me at a loss. It’s very clear that the author of this post is speaking only to those who are “anti-adoption.” Why would someone who is clearly pro-adoption weigh in? It happens so often, and it just wears me out.

      Why do adoption apologists feel compelled to elbow their way into EVERY conversation to crow about how healthy and happy and well-adjusted they are? In my opinion, that’s not how genuinely secure and healthy people behave. To trot out a very old line, “The lady doth protest too much, methinks.”

  2. This is all very depressing but oh so true to form. Being adopted somehow shunts us into this grey no-man’s land of no fixed ethnicity, identity or nationality. Many people who don’t understand the trauma of adoption especially transracial adoption seem to hold this view that you the adopted child now the adult should be forever beholden to the people who adopted you, that somehow you should be in perpetual “indebtedness” to those who deigned to adopt you as if somehow you were not really worthy of this status. I have received what I can only describe as veiled threats from the family that adopted me to try and silence me, to somehow stop me from airing my opinionsI. I understand that they won’t agree with my view on the situation of my adoption I too take on board that my recollection is just that my recollection – my memories. I’m human and yes I may remember situations inaccurately but that’s how I remember things. The question I would be asking myself is why do you remember things in this way or that? Even other adoptees I have found don’t like the fact that you’re being forthright with your views a small minority that I have encountered and it is a small minority are willing to (and yes this is my personal opinion) stoop to any low depths to try and scupper people like myself from speaking. Some adoptees that I have encountered have had positive experience, well that’s what they tell me and who am I to dispute their personal experience. Who am I to disrespect their views just because my experience and views are not in harmony with theirs? Yet these people won’t or can’t show treat me, my experience and my views in a similar manner. Maybe it’s because adoptees who are not afraid to air their views and have become politicised frighten them? Because even though our core identity has been fractured we actually know who and what we are and have in some senses come to terms with the loss, the trauma. We are living proof that the social fairytale does not always work

  3. Eagoodlife posts here about censorship of adoptees:

    https://eagoodlife.wordpress.com/2013/02/04/make-a-new-plan-stan/

    Some years ago supporters of Reece’s Rainbow decided I had said that children with Down’s Syndrome were too ugly to adopt and should be left in institutions!! It was probably one of the most unlikely statements anyone who knows me and knows my history would attribute to me. In fact it was laughable, or would have been, if it hadn’t resulted in one of those loyal supporters reporting me to the FBI as a writer of a ‘blog of hate’!! So much for my right to free speech in my own country. Mysteriously my blog was shut down without warning and a good deal of material readers said they found useful was lost and unavailable. The joys of cyberland! It is of course always wise to anticipate the possibilities of such things and take the necessary precautions, make preparations and be prepared for the possible eventualities. These days I steer well clear of the supporters of Reece’s Rainbow, although occasionally wonder how they’re taking the ban on Russian adoptions.

    And from my reply there:

    The censoring of our voices is a part of this. That anyone would take active measures to silence us says two things. One, how upsetting to the status quo we truly are. Two, how all of our measures to balance the discussion will be thwarted by those in control of the very media we use to discuss. I too was taken to court on charges of “libel”. I’ve just recently learned that adoptees like me in Lebanon have received death threats for “stirring things up”. Luckily my Internet service provider is known for their advocacy of free speech, and the charges against me were dismissed out of hand. But the fact remains that we have a rocky road ahead of us.

  4. SOME of my perspective on adoption is here http://www.ariselive.com/articles/adoption-or-abduction-/96258/ Someone once stopped me getting a job in citing that my views were not appreciated. They didn’t have the guts to say it to me but they did say it to the organisation who would have employed me and for whom I was their education ambassador!!! I had worked with the cowardly people before and caused great success in their project to the point of their children receiving awards from the Duches of York and Michael Morpurgo. . There is discrimination in this area. I think you need to get lawyers onto this and test the law on discrimination. REALLY.

  5. I appreciate your response and commiseration more than you can know. I’m really sorry you had to deal with that. When I sat down to write a bullet-point list of the marginalization and discrimination I had to deal with in my job there—up to and including being referred to by my colleagues to my face as a “yob” for want of a better translation—it ended up being a ten-page letter that shocked even myself and sunk me into a major depression that lasted over a year. Higher ups in the administration both advised me not to pursue it and referred to my department as a “pit of vipers”. The burden of proof was on me, would be based in hearsay, and given their reputation for backstabbing and worse, I was probably better off not being there, psychologically and emotionally, but also in terms of physical health.

    Most disturbing is the lingering sense that a colonized-minded class of society, which determines it valid to adopt out the children it does not wish to deal with, might reapply the very stigmatization and re-enact the very “excorporation” of the original act of adoption upon the adoptee now returned. How many times can you throw someone in the garbage pail? Given what I hear is their obsession with knowing whether I’m still in the country or not from colleagues who still work there, it seems like the non-promotion was just a small act within their capacities at the time, compared to what they were really hoping to do. This kind of gives me chills. It also explains why I prefer spending my time in my yob neighborhood with others “like me”….

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