First and foremost, there are a variety of websites and blogs on adoption on the internet. This is an activist blog. I believe in the power of human interaction and empathy. I believe that the more we talk about important issues in adoption, the greater chance we'll have at making things better for children, parents, families, and communities.
Why Declassified Adoptee?
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. Although I am adoption's client as an adoptee, I was not permitted to see my own file held by my adoption agency. 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 original birth certificate, my foster care file, and my adoption file. What was once top secret information was now "declassified." 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.
So, What do I Think?
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. When we discuss difficult topics, I think we should remember: adoption is an institution; it is not a person. We should be able to talk about adoption, and how it effects people in both good ways and bad ways, without feeling insulted as people.
Very simply, I am pro-human. I support healthy and positive interaction between human beings and the institutions that impact their lives. Truth be told, 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 people 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. Nor should it be free from continuous evaluation.
So, What do I Want?
My ultimate goal 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. Adoption does not occur in a vacuum. Adoption is a social service that impacts the lives of human beings, including the lives of those in incredibly vulnerable populations. As such, it must follow human rights, social justice, and children's rights frameworks as well as professional codes of ethics designed to protect clients. Areas where adoption does not reflect these best practices must be changed.
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 more than 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 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