Interesting post here from Daniel
which fits in neatly with the way I have been thinking these last few days about my own life and circumstances. I’m guessing most adoptees lost count long ago, if ever they were counting, of the ways in which they have followed the script, lived out the life assigned them by adoption. In the recent example Daniel has given, we see a young and vulnerable adoptee shamelessly exploited, exposed and his images fixed in time to follow him through life regardless of his feelings, his attitudes and his inevitably changing relationship to adoption. When people give details about adoptees, whether they are children or adults, as we are seeing so often on facebook with such open, public searches, it seems that the naive are not aware of the downsides of such acts, thinking only of what they hope to gain, their dreams and goals. I remember a year or so ago, an adoptee being elaborately conned by a woman posing as her long-lost mother. The woman went to great lengths, even buying a phone to use in her communications. In that case it seemed she genuinely wanted to alleviate the adoptee’s suffering, but of course caused far more suffering and hurt in her misguided impersonation. In other cases there are often more sinister motives, although all are sinister in their own unique way.
Why would an adopter or anyone else deliberately leave an adoptee they profess to love or care about, open to that sort of abuse in the future or in the immediate present? How much thought does it take to envisage the possible consequences and while it may never happen, wouldn’t you want to make sure it never did? In addition, those personal details belong to the adoptee and the story is theirs to tell when they reach an age when they can make informed decisions. We so often hear from adopters that the adoptees in their care have given consent or their permission to be discussed, have their lives dissected and the most personal of details aired publicly. One poignant example is that of the adopter who has posted on her blog about an adoptee’s clitorectomy and consequent difficulties with urination. Nothing gets much more personal than that! And yet it is deemed to be acceptable because the adoptee has not said ‘No’ to it! How many adoptees do, when in the position of disempowerment which is adoption?
Adults it seems, do not understand the unique position of children, adopters of adoptees, at the bottom of the heap, powerless or perhaps they understand it only too well. The heartbreaking case of Chilli Sauce Momma and of the many young people so publicly named and shamed for not cleaning their rooms or whatever crime it is they are accused of, by a bullying parent who seems to have no understanding of the power of ridicule and humiliation to produce hate, dislike and lack of respect. Perhaps they don’t care that their children will grow up hating them, mistrusting adults and having self-esteem problems. Adoptees are doubly disempowered because they are forced to live to a script, to live a life not of their chosing and to be grateful for it, whatever the losses, traumas, sorrows and hardships. How hard must it be to lose your name, birthdate, motherland, family, language, culture, religion and be aware you have done so, while no-one is listening, taking you seriously or appearing to care because they have got what they wanted and achieved their goals?
I have just gritted my teeth and watched a few vids on Youtube of Gotcha days, all of them in Chinese orphanages, carefully orchestrated by staff and officials for maximum impact on the adopters and so clearly showing how adoptees begin their new life with the weight of expectations, the tragedy of learning to live a role and the pressures of others to perform ‘right’. The raw, desperate need of the adopters is almost tangible, the requirements for the adoptee to meet their goals, to love them and fulfill their need to be parents. The body language is explicit as is what is voiced – a female adopter already giving the baby instructions to love her Momma seconds after the child was placed or rather forced unwillingly into her arms. It is tough to watch, painful to contemplate. Observed in adoptees, the body language is enough to break your heart. Any adoptee can read it so clearly, connect with it, understand it and remember how it was, learning to be the someone others wanted you to be, insisted you be or couldn’t imagine you wouldn’t be, because you were a blank slate. As a young child it is hard to insist on who you are or want to be, especially when you have few clues or don’t consciously remember or can’t put into words feelings, impressions and experiences.
Later we get confused, may have absorbed our lessons well and not discovered that we do have choice and can direct our own lives, oppose others’ ideas of who we are and where we are going. Coming out in any sense is often difficult, painful and fraught with dilemmas, pitfalls and traps. I’m told coming out as an adoptee is often harder than coming out as a gay person. Coming out as an adoptee who views adoption as dysfunctional, pathological and unethical and not all beautiful, life saving and a romp with unicorns, is certainly fraught with encounters with the good, the bad and the ugly and leaves adoptees open to abuse, criticism, ridicule, ostracism, slander, misinterpretaion, scapegoating, further stigma and loss. While others call the shots, make the rules, legislate without consultation, tell us who to be, how to behave, what to think and how to live our lives, as they do frequently and apparently without qualms, we are expected to swallow it with good grace, no objections and gratitude and to believe that the views of others are more valid than the views of those of us who live the adopted life, day in day out.
Of course non-adoptee are entitled to their views, but they are not entitled to impose them on adoptees as if they are necessarily true, inarguable and set in tablets of stone. Let’s see some humility in the face of experience, some respect for courage and some attempts at understanding without the blinkers, without adherence to the set text and with concern for individual circumstances. There is no place for the rigid mind, the bigot and the unimaginative in adoption. It is a tough place to be and requires all the compassion, genuine caring, ethics, lateral thinking and humour that can be mustered.