"Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world."
- James 1:27
I am interested all things adoption, so I automatically feel connected to people in the adoption triad. I am always trying to get my hands on books for kids and adults, relating to adoption. Basicly, in a community when adoption is uncommon, social media is all about adoption for me! I need to know there are other people who are "in it" as much as I am. I strive to listen to adult adoptees, and transracial adoptees, in particular. I follow them on social media, read their blogs and books, and I listen to podcasts.
Recently I have engaged with a few different adoptive parents who are fed up with listening to adoptees who express feelings that seem to differ from their opinions and maybe even make them feel insecure about their role as adoptive parents. I find this sad and frustrating.
Many adult adoptees are now sharing their stories, and their experiences challenge traditional beliefs about adoption. This, at times, takes a lot of emotional energy. It is work. It can be incredibly exhausting to engage with people who challenge your beliefs. I have at times needed a break from these social media spaces or unfollowed people who I, having listened intently, found my values for life differed too greatly. As a follower of Jesus, there are some things on which I simply cannot concede. Sometimes there are other things going on in my world that need to use that energy, too.
That being said, I know that for the sake of my children, I cannot disengage from these conversations permanently. This is not an area where I can afford to be lazy or to accept the status quo. I should value just as highly the adoptee-who-is-an-adoptive-parent's perspective, as those who wish to end all adoption. I need to hear them talk about their good, bad and ugly experiences and how being adopted is incredibly confusing and complicated. I need to listen when they say that they feel commoditized or rejected or stolen without jumping in with a “but, but..” to explain away their feelings or justify various scenarios.
This doesn't mean that I automatically embrace every opinion that I hear. I am decidedly pro-adoption and family preservation at the same time. They are not opposites, And It’s simply too complex to pick one opinion as THE answer for ALL adoption, or one solution for all vulnerable children. Actually, probably even just one individual adoption is too complex to cover it with one blanket statement. I truly feel that I NEED to acknowledge the complexity of seemly opposite truths in a healthy adoption scenario- adoption is loss and gain. Sometimes adoption is right and good and "best" under the circumstances, sometimes adoption is the result of corruption and outright child trafficking. Sometimes adoption is wrong. Sometimes adoption is the best solution even when it is still broken. Sometimes it is right, sometimes it is confusing, sometimes it is downright criminal. Sometimes families could parent if they had more support and finances, sometimes not. It is a false equivalency to say that all adoption is the same as kidnapping. It is also dismissive to deny the primal loss inherent in adoption though our words and actions, or lack thereof. It is OK to acknowledge mistakes we made along the way before we learned what we know now. When I know better I do better. I can only know and do better if I keep learning and keep advocating for what is right
I need to listen even when I disagree. When I listen, I am hearing the ADOPTEES’ experience and her opinion. It's not my job to decide whether or not their experience is valid or true. It is their lived experience. I was SO naive 7 years ago when I began this journey. It's embarrassing actually! But I have learned so much from engaging with adoptees (and first parents), especially about letting go of my pride and admitting my inadequacies. I cannot put on blinders in my goal of creating my family, by refusing to listen those around me who are concerned that my family is created as another is broken. I cannot become single minded in raising my children, that I refuse to look deeply at adoption practices and evaluate their justness. It is not OK for me, as an adoptive parent, to focus on justifying my situation, rather than evaluating my position of privilege. It is not good enough for me to claim naivety when my children grow up and process the loss, and damagingly positive narrative of adoption going on all around them. As the parent of adopted children it's my job to listen even when I'm offended, to put aside my naivety, to learn from the people who are the experts (they are the adoptees in case I haven't made that clear). My kids are worth it.