Thursday, November 15, 2012
Giving the Adoptee's Credit to Adoption
I do not think that adoption gave Faith Hill or Sarah McLahlan their amazing singing voices or Darryl McDaniels his ability to rap and engage a crowd. I don't think that adoption put all of the components that is the Apple company, and its products, magically in Steve Job's head. I don't think that adoption endowed Dave Thomas with all of the secrets to running a successful food chain or running a large national campaign that advocates for foster kids. These things were probably a combination of nature, nurture, circumstances, and a lot of hard work.
Let's give adoptees credit for their hard work.
Alternately, I think the main idea behind why these famous faces are so heavily associated with adoption is that adoption places children in affluent homes that can offer them better opportunities. What we give adoption credit for in this instance is essentially the effects of inequality and privilege.
I went to a private school. My adoptive parents could afford to pay for it. My original mother probably could not have afforded it. I did not attend a private school because of adoption. I attended one because of class privilege. In fact, a great number of my successes in life were influenced by unearned privileges. White privilege, class privilege, Christian privilege, coupled privilege, married privilege, cisgender privilege, heterosexual privilege, the list goes on.
When we discuss the accomplishments that adoptees have made, we need to remember that the accomplishments were made by those adoptees, not by adoption. This doesn't mean adoption wasn't beneficial to them. It means that adoption is an institution; it is not a person. We must put people-first, strengths-first. We also need to stop sending the message that lower-income families by default can never provide opportunities for their children. To help those in need, raise them up. Work to alleviate poverty. Advertising adoption using the faces of adopted superstars further draws a dramatic distinction between poor and wealthy homes. It does nothing but further classism in our society.
I began blogging in 2009 to try to find my original family and ended up becoming an author and activist for the adoption community. Two degrees in social work, two kids, multiple legislative campaigns, multiple published books, two collegiate teaching positions, a clinical practice, and advanced licensing later....I'm still at it and not giving up any time soon.