Quote for Sunday – If you’re not in the arena also getting your ass kicked, I am not interested in your feedback. — Brené Brown
So to a very interesting post over at Mad Momma Moogacat on RAD. A must read as it opens up a much needed discussion and the comments are as interesting as the post itself.
Here’s what Daniel Ibn Zayd says:
Coming to this late, but I would like to emphasize the point of the original post at Transracial Eyes which is that RAD is an invention. It is a tactical invention of a society that needs to destroy a resistant element within that society. The biggest mistake adoptive parents make is thinking that they somehow have agency outside of the economic and political deal they strike with this society that allows them, among other things, to adopt children from countries that the society sees as needing to be opened up, again, economically and politically. It is more and more obvious that adoptive parents are microcosmic agents of their society’s foreign policy goals, as witnessed by the very countries targeted for adoption over the past decades.
As such it makes no sense to “discuss” RAD; it makes no sense to use the term when the whole point of the original post was to question the diagnosis and undermine the tactical use of the epithet. Furthermore, at this point the damage is already done. The idea that the “enlightened” view of the adoptive parent should be to “understand” their child’s resistance and try then to “ease” their child’s “transition” is no less offensive, no less punishing, no less aggressive, no less damaging than depriving a child of food, or “rebirthing” them in smothering blankets.
It’s like providing comfortable galleys on a slave ship; it’s like dimming the lights and rounding the upramp approach to the slaughterhouse in an effort to “calm” the beasts dragged in to their death. Personally, I always preferred the upfront racism of the French to the “Where y’all from?” racism of Americans; here is no different. Normalizing RAD treatment is not the answer, and I would not sleep for thinking I might have contributed to such a mindset.
What is troubling to me is the fact that the discussion leaves out the most obvious answer, for the apparent fact that duped by their sense of agency, adoptive parents are not even aware of what resistance might mean; they cannot fathom stepping down from the class position that afforded them a child; they are incapable of seeing that the fate of the world is predicated on their undoing of the class system that gives them the luxury and privilege to adopt children.
And so the obvious answer is to find the sites of resistance within the child’s originating culture and focus on these. Determine how the child’s originating culture has resisted foreign domination, and provide the child with this as reference, as history, as a mindset, no matter how threatening it might be to the parents’ sense of self, or sense of patria. I know adoptive parents who have gone down this road, and I daresay they are not only doing right by the child temporarily in their care, but also in terms of the child’s community, as well as the world at large.
It’s time for adoptive parents to step up to the plate
Repeating this part of the quote – The biggest mistake adoptive parents make is thinking that they somehow have agency outside of the economic and political deal they strike with this society that allows them, among other things, to adopt children from countries that the society sees as needing to be opened up, again, economically and politically. It is more and more obvious that adoptive parents are microcosmic agents of their society’s foreign policy goals, as witnessed by the very countries targeted for adoption over the past decades. I doubt many prospective adopters or adopters are aware of their mistake, their agency or their complicity. If they are please speak up now and add your views, your perspective and justifications.
So few, it seems, are aware of what we’ve come to call ‘the other side of adoption’, usually taken to mean the ‘downsides’, the criticisms and the bad. In the life and perception of most aware adult adoptees the ‘good’ side of adoption has little currency, no ethics, dubious credentials and plenty of fantasy, deception, lies and withholding of information. It treats adoptees as chattels to be bought and sold, traded and trafficked; damaged goods to be redeemed and adult adoptees as half-wits to be patronised, people who need to be told how to live life, what to do and how to do it.
The obvious and oft flaunted sense of privilege that goes with the economic and political deal they strike with this society plays out again and again and serves to remind us that the country adopting the largest number of transnational adoptees regards itself as the inventor of modern adoption, the best marketer of modern adoption and the best at making adoption pay. In becoming agents of their society’s foreign policy goals adopters sell their souls, become part of the giant conspiracy that insists their country is the best, the fairest, the most ethical, the most diligent in seeking and maintaining peace and the most humane for rescuing so many ‘orphans’ from the jaws of death.
Ok, so many have RAD or rather are diagnosed with RAD, a construct that suits the medical profession, other professions and parents who are floundering, unprepared and unable to cope with the normal reactions of children to the traumatic experiences of their short lives. We are told that some non-adopteees also have RAD. Studies have shown interesting things about the parenting of those children, but this is not the place or time to go into that. Adopters are often ill prepared, misinformed, lied to and cheated of genuine information that would be helpful, to which they and the child are entitled and which is part of the child’s life and history. Can you blame a ‘sending country’ for reflecting back the attitudes and approaches of the ‘receiving country’, for adopting the same marketing techniques, disregard for sources and supply and for the commodification of the product in a world which is about profit, top dollar and disregard for the means?
We see exactly the same principle operation in the world of garment production. Women die in their hundreds producing cheap garments for the big brands, the place of production shifts according to the cheapest production price, just as we see the places of supply of adoptees shift according to availability, cheap supply and distancing from the source. The market wants ‘orphans’ to save, children with no history or sketchy information who can ‘comfortably’ have a new nationality, a new country, ‘culture’ and identity imposed on them without conscience, because they are orphans, ‘nobodies’ who need to be made ‘somebodies’. That they can’t/won’t attach themselves because they already attached to their mother or another carer or both is an inconvenience, a painful fly in the ointment, which adopters are often unprepared for, ill equipped to deal with and often at a loss for solutions. I am unable to blame them for the dilemma they find themselves in, so often agencies and institutions are responsible for this dilemma, for false information, creating illusions, using smoke and mirrors to lure adopters into believing all will be well. Luxury and privilege are the smoke and mirrors which allow people to believe their status will protect them, their position in the world will allow them to do what others cannot – to buy the babies of poor women and make them their own, raise them in their own culture in isolation from their motherland or with token gestures towards it to show how liberal they are.
Generations of adoptees have been made into a diaspora of adoptees and diasporas of the motherland, mostly centered in America but spread throughout the countries of the world who can afford adoption, create the market and keep it running. It is a tragedy almost beyond belief, that so many millions have been raised not speaking their mother tongue, not knowing their culture or history, their biological origins or where they’ve come from. In any other sphere of life it would be considered a crime so immense that the world would be hard pressed to know where to start to bring the perpetrators to book and to make reparation to the victims.
Daniel comments that he could not sleep at night if he thought he had contributed to the ‘normalizing’ of RAD. I could not sleep at night if I thought I had not spoken out about the ‘normalizing’ of transnational adoption, the trade in children and the marketing of the adoption industry. It is time, not just for adopters to step up to the plate, but for all to recognise the wrongs and in whatever way we can to make moves to set it right. Speak, write, blog, preach, march, do whatever you do best to stop the delusion that transnational adoption is right, correct, saving, rescuing etc.
As Edmund Burke is thought to have said “All that is required for evil to prevail is for good men to do nothing.” Had he been with us today he would no doubt have phrased that slightly differently to include women and young people who can be an enormous force for good! May the force be with you!