Sunday, February 25, 2007

Corruption Item 14: Help Mature Adoption Beliefs

14) Work to Mature the Way Adoption is understood in Our Society.

--Much of our inability to believe adoption corruption exists begins with our society's simplistic, AP centered, and mythic understanding of adoption. Adoption is mythically considered an always and absolute good. When adoption is seen in more mature, realistic, and balanced ways, our society will start to realize that adoption, like almost everything else in life, can be used for good or ill (to help or to exploit and harm). Adoption is a good only when used and practiced responsibly with an understanding of what it is and what is it is not; the good that it can be, but also the real inherent losses that it causes.

--As in all things, educating yourself is first. Seek to understand adoption as an elephant surrounded by blind men. Our society believes and acts as if the only valid perspective on adoption comes from the blind man standing in the position of adoptive parent. That blind man is given a megaphone and all others (very valid others who stand around the majority of the elephant) who have different perspectives are ignored, greeted with skepticism, and/or silenced. Learn to see adoption from the perspective of other blindmen-adoptees, birth families, those hurt by adoption, the big picture, the historical perspective, etc.

--Join the online adoption support list called International Adopt Talk (IAT)
and encourage others to join; listen and learn. there. Be willing to change and mature your perspective.

--Read adoptee memoirs, blogs, and stories

--Read books on adoption history and practice

--Read criticisms of intercountry adoption including those that see intercountry adoption as a continuation of neocolonial practices and an outgrowth of the evils of globalism; seek to understand the racial aspects and the first world/third world power inequities of intercountry adoption.

--Read first mother and first family blogs, accounts, and stories.

--Seek out stories that show other sides of adoption

--From all of these form a more realistic understanding of adoption.

--Remember this: It is always easy to recognize the injustices of another time and place; the hard thing is to recognize the injustices of your own time and place. In every time and place where injustice has been condoned/ignored/allowed to thrive by society there has been a worldview and a simplistic uni-blind-man mythology that makes injustice look just, especially for those who benefit from it. It is easy to shift blame, make problems into non-problems, injustices into non-issues, and ignore massive problems. It is harder to take a stand against the zeitgeist and be a flea or a lion biting against injustice. Reform begins with understanding the view from somewhere other than society's single approved blind man. It starts when people begin to recognize that there are other human beings involved---people as human as themselves. People who have the same emotions, the same hopes, and the same dreams--and who feel pain in the same way and for the same reasons as they themselves--when we start to care about the way the world looks from the perspective of those other equally human beings. Not just the way WE think the world looks from their perspective (in our minds), but the way it IS from their experience and perspective. When we GIVE THEM VOICE and LISTEN TO THEM.

--Whenever you see adoption being portrayed in a simplistic, AP centered, uni-perspective, mythic sort of way, speak up and share a different perspective.


  1. I absolutely agree that there are huge problems with the adoption system, which primarily stem from the amounts of money to be made from it. However, I think you're being over-simplistic when you suggest that adoption is considered a mythic and absolute good in contemporary society. Families with adopted children and people planning to adopt have to contend with pervasive, stigmatizing assumptions that adoption is always a second choice, because we are supposedly biologically driven to want to reproduce our genes (rather than that we have biologically evolved to want to nurture); that the emotional bonds between a child and its adopted parents will never be as strong or meaningful; and that it's risky, because the children will be "too damaged." Even if people engage in talk about the nobility and bravery of adoption, there is usually a condescending edge to such talk-implying that you'd better be brave, to do something that foolish. All of this contributes to the relatively small numbers of people adopting. Anyway, I add this in the name of discussing this issue in more mature, realistic and balanced ways.

  2. I might add; when I said that the primary problem was turning adoption into a profit-making system, I left out the problems with the US state adoption system, and all the issues of class and race that distort whose children get taken by the state and why, not to mention that it's a fucked up way of privatizing the problems of poverty, as we starve programs to help poor people. I am on board with the critiques of the system, but am finding, as I try to educate myself more, that the people critiquing the system have a little bit of a tendency to demonize adoptions and people who adopt. I don't think that's helpful.