Thursday, November 11, 2010

Ignoring Diversity When it Comes to Seeing Adoptees as a Group

I can't help but read/hear quite often the "I know an adoptee who is 'fine' so why aren't you?" answer to an adoptee expressing that something offended them or when they attempt to offer a different perspective on something someone else is saying.  This dismissive response just makes me chuckle to myself any more, because the more adoptees I meet and talk to, the more ridiculous it sounds to me.

The reason being, we are so absolutely diverse.

We are domestic adoptees, infant adoptees, foster adoptees, step-parent adoptees, tribal/customary adoptees, kinship adoptees, transracial adoptees, and we are adoptees from all over the world and residing in countries all over the world.  Sometimes we are a combination of those things (I am sure I missed some).

What our experience in adoption was like can also widely vary.  Some of us know/knew nothing of our original identities and families.  Some of us were raised by at least one natural parent.  Some of us were raised by natural family members.  Some of us were raised in open adoptions.  Some of us did grow up with identifying information on our natural families.  Some of us were able to be open with our adopted status.   Some of us experienced being silenced when talking about it or knowing it was a taboo topic.  Some of us didn't find out we were adopted until later in life.  Some of us have positive relationships with our Original and/or Adoptive Families, some of us do not.

Some of us, hold positive and/or negative opinions, not from our experiences, but because we've researched it.

We may hold membership in other minority groups on top of our adopted status.  Some of us are women, some of us are differently-abled, some of us have surrendered children, some of us belong to racial and ethnic minority groups, some of us are in the aging population, and some of us are members of the LGBTQ community.  Our religious beliefs--or lack thereof--as well as political affiliations and world views may also widely vary.

So honestly, when someone says "oh I know an adoptee....." and they use what they think they know about that person's life to tell me that my experiences or thoughts do not count or don't have a place at the table of adoption discussion; it's a little absurd.

We are a minority group; we have our own unique challenges.  What I like about the adoptee community is that the common ground we share unites us in strengthening our voices and making a positive change in our communities and the world around us.  Individuals who respect one another can go beyond appreciating what they share in common and can appreciate each other's differences and acknowledge that we all have something to "bring to the table" of adoption discussion.  For someone, especially someone that's not adopted themselves, to turn around the strengths in our community as a way to ignore or belittle another community member....I don't know if people understand how truly dismissive and hurtful that is.

This post is part of my series for November's National Adoption Awareness Month.

Photo credit: Salvatore Vuono

3 comments:

ms. marginalia said...

I couldn't agree more. We are so diverse in our lives and experiences. I think it's wonderful we all have each other for support. It has made dealing with the dismissive people much easier because I know I am not alone.

It is so true that the same arguments get thrown at us: "Be grateful," "I know an adoptee who is just fine," "Everyone has problems," "Would you rather that children rot on the streets/in orphanages," etc. As though we are thought to be either idiots who are unable to understand our lives in relation to others, or terrorists who are hell bent on making kids "languish" in orphanages rather than live with the love of their families, natural or otherwise. You're right. It's absurd.

I never really thought of myself as having minority status, but I guess I do. And finding my community of fellow adoptees has made a huge difference in my quality of life.

I just wish more people would listen and be less reactionary and threatened by what we say.

Von said...

I'm hoping the strengths of the community can't be turned around anymore and the many voices speaking out will teach people to listen better.

Cassi said...

You are absolutely right and I have never seen a better way to challenge that old, tired and worn out statement as the one you just presented.