Breaking open the adoption discussion.

I’m touching back here to a discussion we had about AP entitlement [link], and how our discussions, which we would hope help us “break out” of the status quo discussion of adoption in fact feed back into the “adoption loop” as it were.

Recently the reactions to NPR’s mediation of transracial adoption, as well as the co-ordinated response to the death of a Korean-born adoptee, seem to moving the discussion concerning adoption into a different realm, although still “among” those whom adoption has had an impact on.

But this too is changing. In the current issue of the Counter Punch newsletter (Vol. 21 No. 1; print only) there is an article by Ruth Fowler entitled: “The Rescue Fallacy: Race, Privilege and Adoption”; this topic will also be taken up in the upcoming Adoption Initiative Conference in May.

We seem to be reaching some kind of critical mass in how a) adoption is addressed and discussed politically and economically, moving us away from the purely personal, psychological, and individual, and b) that from the unique perspectives of those in the adoptive realm, usually focused on P/APs.

In her article, Fowler quotes UK-based poet and playwright Lemn Sissay who states: “taking a child from another culture is an act of aggression”; she also writes “raising children is a basic human privilege we continually treat (incorrectly) as a right.”

This is refreshing I think, when the response within the greater mediated realm is to continue to perpetuate the idea that adoption in and of itself is a “progressive” act of “enlightened” individuals.

This is pointed up by many of the responses to the topic on entitlement which describe a kind of voyeurism as well as a kind of “Adoption for Dummies” (please tell me there’s no such book) need on the part of P/APs to ensure that their adoption will take.

What I am wondering is whether in terms of mediation, are we seeing a shift where our discussion is moving away from a somewhat co-opted interpretation to one which stands on its own, and reverberates outside of the realm of the “usual discussants”?

Can we imagine the point when the adoption discussion truly breaks free from these strictures? When what we’ve been discussing here for a few years, what has been adoption activism for decades, and what has been adoption resistance for close to a century “opens up” honestly, expansively, and holistically?

What might that be like? What might the response be? I’ll leave this question rather open to be interpreted as you wish.

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5 thoughts on “Breaking open the adoption discussion.

  1. When an adoptee friend started using the words Human Trafficking instead of adoption, I knew the light went on somewhere. Not every adoptee has the language to speak, and that is a critical issue. Gradually, since 2009, I have noted the change in myself and others who were adopted. So yes, I think you are right – there seems to be a shift.

  2. I think that part of the reason for this shift is that so many adoptees are now adults and are making themselves more heard and connected through social media. It is becoming harder and harder to make this a personalized microcosmic experience.
    Before, it was only the media and industry narrative that adoption was about love and uniting. But we are living proof that this is BS. And we are becoming a force to be reckoned with.

  3. “Personalized microcosmic experience” describes it so perfectly, in terms of controlled mediation…as well as the reaction to us if we burst this bubble….

    Sometimes I think we forget we have a natural ally in the archetypes of the popular culture. Meaning, the mythology of adoption requires so much effort to resist what is inherently felt and expressed on a popular level. “The emperor has no clothes!” becomes a given.

Adoptees, what do you think? We welcome your replies!

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