There are a variety of websites and blogs on adoption out there. This is an activist blog. I believe in the power of human interaction and empathy. I believe in engaging in adoption discourse as a way to improve the lives of children and their families and communities. I believe that the voices of those who live adoption are an often-overlooked but necessary element of adoption discussion.
Why am I "Declassified?"
For a very long time, the only thing my adoptive parents and I knew about my pre-adoption life, family, and identity came from a paragraph-long agency narrative. At the time of my adoption in 1986, my birth record and adoption files were permanently sealed. In 1999, my birth state passed a law allowing adult adoptees to access their original birth certificate and state adoption files with minimal restrictions. When I turned 24, I figured out how to navigate this harrowing process. In 2009, I became part of a very small percentage of U.S. born adopted persons to access these sealed documents. What was once top secret information was now "declassified" and a beautiful story of family, connection, and kinship was unlocked for me. As Salman Rushdie once said,
"Those who do not have power over the story that dominates their lives--the power to retell it, rethink it, deconstruct it, joke about it, and change it as times change--truly are powerless because they cannot think new thoughts."This blog is dedicated to thinking new thoughts.
How do we Engage in Adoption Discourse?
If you spend just a bit of time immersed in adoption community culture, you'll notice that we're often quick to categorize each other into one of two diametrically opposed sides: "pro-adoption" or "anti-adoption." This false dichotomy ignores the deeply personal and complex experiences of all those effected by adoption. As adoption is a deeply personal life experience, it can be difficult to hear someone come to a different conclusion on adoption than we have. Rather than feeling threatened by the widely diverse stories and conclusions of adoptees, we should respect and honor each adopted person's meaning-making of their own experience without coming to hasty conclusions about their lives or parents. When we discuss difficult topics we should remember: adoption is an institution; it is not a person. We should be able to talk about adoption, how it effects people in both good ways and bad ways, without feeling personally insulted.
So What do I think?
Very simply, I am pro-human. I support healthy and positive interaction between human beings and the institutions that impact their lives. I view adoption no differently than I view any other institution like marriage, religion, heath care, or education--to name a few. Institutions include some people while excluding others. Some excel within a given institution while others are left behind due to policy problems and other systemic barriers. Institutions contain stratified systems of benefits and privilege. An institution may benefit one person but may harm another. Institutions need continuous evaluation for their effectiveness and fairness. Where social injustice exists, it needs to be acknowledged and addressed.
Adoption is not free from the same general strengths and challenges that institutions are known to encompass. Adoption activism is a continuous process of advocating for the welfare of everyone whose lives intersect with it.
So, What do I Want?
My objective is to challenge the common belief that adoption is a mysterious process that occurs in a vacuum and therefore should abide by its own rules and have its policies go unquestioned with the ultimate goal of seeing positive change in adoption. Adoption does not occur in a vacuum. Adoption is an institution that impacts the lives of human beings--especially vulnerable populations. As such, it must follow human rights, social justice, and children's rights frameworks. I want everyone to feel as though they can form opinions on adoption issues and make an impact when they talk to policy makers about adoption.
The CWLA once said, "adult adoptees are the only people who can tell us what being adopted is like in a society where most people are not adopted." This could not be more true; if you want to know what being adopted like, you must ask those who are adopted. There is no replacement for the invaluable adoptee narrative within adoption. However, I encourage all people to gain an interest in adoption issues and become an ally. You do not have to be an adoption expert to be an adoption changemaker. If you understand human rights and social justice frameworks, then you are equipped to assess the fairness of adoption concepts, policies, and practices and make positive change.
Of course, this blog is not exclusively for people who think just like I do or who share my worldview. My own personal views are evolving each day as I work to be consciously aware of my own beliefs and biases and find my own way in this world. I am not just an activist. I am a story teller. I am a story listener. I am a person navigating reunion despite tough conception circumstances. I am an adoptee parenting biological children and learning to explain adoption to them. If universality, catharsis, empowerment, peace, or hope are what you find here, I will consider the blog's purpose well-served.
All of these lines across my face
Tell you the story of who I am
So many stories of where I've been
And how I got to where I am
But these stories don't mean anything
When you've got no one to tell them to
It's the truth
I was made for you
I was made for you
"The Story" by Brandi Carlile