Grizzle, Grunt and Gag

le miserableI’m going to have a first class grizzle,  so please look away if you have better things to do. I went to bed with massive amounts of pain and had a bad night. It’s not always a given, as good meds usually help and I rally quickly whatever the night has brought. One cat started the morning by vomiting, luckily not on the bed but next to it. She went outside and was chased in by her ‘not friend’ who managed to catch me, an innocent bystander, in the ensuing fight and gash my leg, which is now bleeding freely and stinging mightily. She’s also had the cheek to hiss at me! Cats!! Have to luv’em!  And we can now have totally accurate plush models of our little friends made! Maybe not. At least the fake cats don’t vomit, crap and demand!IMG_8392

I’m sick of the way our Government has made the anniversary of Gallipoli into a big arena event and how our Prime Minster  asked us all to attend Anzac ceremonies because he wants a demonstration to IS  and the world of our cohesiveness as a nation. Since he’s already made us the laughing-stock of the world it’s too late to set us up as examples and as having templates of border control to follow. We are over-run with programs, films and events in which good, honest, brave people tell their stories but won’t be heard because it’s now in overkill. Businesses have been reprimanded because of their exploitation of the event and the merchandise abounds. The exploitation by our Government of good honest people who have made what must have been a considerable effort is sickening, gut-wrenching and disappointing but perhaps not surprising.

I’m tired of the ‘Men-Boys’ in our community who pretend to be all grown up, caring, sensitive, engaged and evolved, who when the chips are down are actually just as unevolved as the previous model, but more scared, more scarred and just as unable to engage, commit, be sensitive, empathetic and less than heavily involve with themselves and their own self-absorption. While I have every sympathy for those who have not had role models,  loving parents and secure home lives, there is no excuse for the recent examples I have witnessed of cruelty, lack of compassion and egoism. Several recent examples have had it all it seems,  but are cruelly stigmatising, exploitative, unthinking and shamelessly manipulative. They have made themselves loveable, likeable and indispensable until push comes to shove, when they can bring someone down as fast as anyone else. A swift kick in the guts, a metaphorical punch in the face and a heavily discriminating and stigmatising remark and a lack of insight don’t make them attractive company!  There are many good, honest, real men in the world, wherever you are please step up and assist these others to be like you, live like you and embrace your values and ideals. I’m sickened by the ‘rape culture’ we appear to live in world-wide, in which women and girls are nothing but meat, commodities and devalued, whatever they do. I’m tired of the male martyrs, the grizzlers and the hard done by, who complain about the achievements of women and how lacking they are in opportunities and ‘special treatment’. A recent example had men complaining that women have a special day and how come men don’t!  Told to look it up and make something of it they went quiet. If you’re not prepared to fight for it, work for it, live it and embrace it wholeheartedly, then don’t martyr yourselves, just do something else but leave us out of it. We will never make progress until real men and real women can work together to support each other, respect each other, appreciate each other and complement each other and provide a safe, secure environment in which to raise the next generation. When we learn to regard everyone, whatever their orientation, their choices and needs as being as important as our own and we take off the blinkers which stop us from seeing clearly and unblock our ears and listen with intent, we might create a safer, more accepting and acceptable place to live. When we reduce our galloping consumption, our every increasing appetite for power, electricity, gas, money, property and possessions and live within our means and the capability of our planet to provide for us all, we might survive, stop slaughtering each other, starving each other and forcing others to love in ways we don’t want to.

I’m irritated yet again by the adopters who make assumptions about adult adoptees activists and who appear to believe that our whole lives are about adoption and that we think of nothing else. In reducing us to one dimension perhaps it makes us more manageable. Did you know the Milky Way is viewed by us on our planet, side-on, like looking at the edge of  a plate? Where we to see it full on it would appear much bigger and more spectacular. Maybe we have ‘Milky Way Syndrome’ and our ability to cope with the loses and traumas of early life plus the on-going effects of adoption while juggling ‘normal’ life of family, career, work, home, social life, reunion etc etc make us rather daunting to contemplate. It’s OK when we shut up and follow the rules set for us, but when we begin to speak out, to tell our stories, to challenge the myths and falsities, ‘the beauty of adoption’ and the truth of what mothers and others say, the trouble starts. There are those of us who can’t shut up, who have to speak out and tell the truth of it not just for ourselves and our own integrity, but for the ones who haven’t yet been able to speak out, who are still in the fog, under the hammer, struggling with “The Wall of Secrets” and living the life we had mapped out for us. Those who are both adoptee and adopter occupy hallowed ground and sometimes can mange to speak two languages simultaneously. They are loved by adopters, adoption magazines and by newspapers because they appear to have a credibility the rest of us do not. We see it sometimes with adoptee/mothers-of-loss with feet in both camps and torn between the two, uncertain and compromised.  It’s a hard row to hoe.

I have read a post by an adopter recently, which more or less asserts that if you’ve read one ‘less positive’ post by an adoptee about adoption you’ve read them all. Sadly this dismissive approach lumps us all together, negates our differences, our specialness, our uniqueness and is another of those covert attempts to shut us up that we are so familiar with. It seems that the writer/speaker/blogger is always innocent and meant what they said which the receiver has misunderstood. Like the misogynist who makes an offensive joke to a woman and then tells her to lighten up or tells her ‘it was just a joke’.  The blogger believes, it seems, that all adoptees are saying that the voices of adopters are not important – perhaps one did, perhaps another agreed and perhaps in the context they might have had a point worth hearing.  We can’t tell because she gave no link, only attributed the attitude to the #flipthescript movement –  individuals have attitudes, maybe she’d like to share. If we were to say of some other minority group which is stigmatised, not given full civil rights and ‘legally’ deprived of information about themselves and that we need to beware when their  opinions come with too many absolutes and that we can chose not to hear their opinions after the first time, we might say they were racist, disabilist, sexist, elitist or exhibiting white privilege. In this instance it’s adoptist. Nothing will change if these things are not revealed for what they are.

An adopter/blogger writes -“Is it important listen to adoptees? Absolutely. However, when their opinions come with too many absolutes, then it’s time to beware. As adoptive parents we can also choose the voices we want to surround ourselves with. We can hear the less positive opinions from adoptees about adoption and foster care, but we can choose not to surround ourselves with it after hearing it the first time.

After hearing what those involved with Flip the Script had to say, I was told I didn’t want to hear what they had to say. I wasn’t the deaf one, I heard them.

Many adoptees involved in the Flip the Script movement tell us we need to listen to them, and that us adoptive parents don’t matter in the equation.

Madeleine Melcher wrote an article, What an Adoptee Wants You to Know About Adoption. In it she says, “Parents: there is no voice on or about adoption that is more important than YOUR ADOPTEE’S.” She also says,

“Adoptees have different feelings about their own adoptions.”

I love what Madeleine says. It’s true, our children’s voice comes first. Then come ours (shocker) because we’re the ones raising them. We should listen to others who’ve been there, but we get to choose who we want to surround ourselves with.

Unlike what some adoptees would like us to think, each child will have their own views of their adoption. Yes, it’s up to us parents to listen to a variety of voices on the subject, including those who’ve been adopted and fostered, but those voices are going to vary too.”

So are we to glean from this that ‘the less positive opinions’ after being heard ‘the first time’ can be dismissed when there are ‘too many absolutes’? I wonder what that means – ‘too many absolutes’ – are absolutes opinions, facts, the conclusions from experiences, learning, statements and why do others need to beware?  Because they might change their minds, their ideas, their practises, their understanding of ethics, the adoption market, approaches to loss and trauma or their feelings about adoption and what they do? If a group of people are confident in what they do, they don’t need to be wary surely, because they can take on board any relevant  information. They have genuine self-confidence backed by true knowledge. We all have new learning to do all the time, we never know it all or even approach knowing it all.  When someone informs you that you didn’t want to hear what they had to say they surely are feeling unheard by you and you have conveyed that you have not been listening or are not hearing. Conveying understanding requires specific responses, not denial.

No adopter needs to listen to anyone, it is a choice but surely if they wish to do a good job, if they care about the goals of adoption and if they love who they have adopted or at any rate care about them and the adoption outcomes, they will want to form a fully rounded view of adoption with as much varied information as possible. No parent needs to do themselves down, be self-mocking, put themselves second or demean themselves to the task if they are doing the best they can, are confident in their abilities because they’ve been well-selected and supported. No voice has to come first or be last – aren’t they all important?  We so often see parents putting themselves last, afraid to take a stance, set boundaries, make limits, impose rules and teach kids the true consequences of their actions. We are the adults, we’re not our kids friends, we are their parents and hopefully their guides and mentors. If nothing else we are older and have lived longer and might have a perspective on what we have learned and experienced that we can use in the difficult job of parenting.

And this, lifted shamelessly and without permission, from the comments of a fellow adoptee’s blog, because it is so wonderfully illustrative of an entirely different adoptive parent approach – My people–adoptive parents–have a lot to learn about just listening and accepting a narrative at face value as a personal narrative that may share attributes with other narratives.

I struggle to understand how my daughter processes her own story; I know it’s changed and evolved since she’s been with me. I also know that she struggles to articulate all that she feels and experiences. I don’t know what she would publicly write about her experience as an adoptee, but whatever it is, I promise to respect it. I have my own story and she has hers. I love her madly, and I respect her enough to know that she has her own view of how this thing is playing out.

Most adoptees I know work hard at trying to help others understand that adoptees have their own unique experiences, views on adoption and that they do so from an early age. Some of the younger ones just don’t express those views because they wish to please others, because they don’t yet know they can, out of fear and imposed feelings of gratitude, insecurity, un-attachedness, not having the vocabulary to do so, lack of trust and a multitude of other reasons which are unknown or misunderstood by non-adoptees. How often, for instance,  we hear a biological child in a family say of their adopted sibling something like  –  ‘He’s very happy with adoption because he has never said he wasn’t.’  We know that the deepest, most painful and private feelings are often not shared, particularly with those ‘closest’ in the family because it is too threatening, too revealing, too frightening and too much information to give away. Given a background of thorough preparation, well-rounded and balanced knowledge and research and an empathetic, genuine caring approach, those working with adoptees might be lucky enough to be trusted to hear their views and if you’re very worthy, their real feelings and not something they trot out to please you, shut you up or stop you prying, being intrusive or insensitive. Given the complexities of adoption, many adoptees don’t know their own views and are still forming them. That applies to adult adoptees too, because adoption is like quick sand, ever-changing and just as threatening at times.  Of course the ‘voices are going to vary’ and let’s be thankful for that, for the complexities, the variety and let’s acknowledge the enormity of it, the difficulty and the need for real and careful attention if we’re to be serious about it. Madeleine Melcher also notes that adoptees are individuals and have their own individual views. Well, of course!   It seems sometimes people think adopting a child is as simple as adopting a puppy!!





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