The best thing we can do is tell our stories.

I feel like such a hypocrite.

I have been saying for some time now that cross-“triad” discourse has little or no benefit to adoptees, and that we should be focused on finding our own voice through coming to a shared understanding of our common experiences. Have I been doing that? Hell no. Lately, I have been focused almost entirely on analyzing and criticizing the discourse and culture surrounding adoption. This by itself would be fine, because being immersed in adoption’s culture and discourse is part of the adoptee experience. But I have been writing reactively to other triad members and even to weird “adoption groupies” who have no connection to adoption whatsoever, and my writing has been at least partially directed at them.

Like verbal utterances, all texts are designed for their intended recipients. With non-adoptees as part of my imagined audience, it’s too easy to fall into some of the very same practices that annoy me in cross-“triad” discourse, like the various adoptee disclaimers (“I’m not angry”, “I love my a-parents”, “I wasn’t abused”, etc.) as well as the adoption critic disclaimers (“I’m not anti-adoption, just pro-reform”, “I don’t think all a-parents are evil baby stealers”, etc.). Things that every adoptee will assume unless you state otherwise, but need to be said over and over and over and fucking over again for everybody else and it still doesn’t get through most of the time.

That’s not to say that I mind non-adoptees reading and commenting on my blog. I actually really do appreciate it. In fact, I really do want non-adoptees to read about adoptee experiences (and not just mine–see my blogroll for some great adoptee blogs). I just need to stop writing for them when it’s at the expense of adoptee discourse, and that’s hard to do knowing that they are reading. It’s hard to keep it real, especially when I enjoy a good argument. Arguments are kind of the opposite of experience, though. An experience is just an experience–something happened to you and you felt a certain way about it. There’s really nothing to dispute, unless someone is just calling you a liar.

While there certainly are plenty of people out there who wish to deny the very real experiences of adoptees, it’s the analysis that really brings on the arguments. This is when people suddenly become internet psychologists and want to claim analytic privilege over your own self-reflection, tell you how you should understand your own experiences and feelings based on a few words you’ve posted on a blog or forum. Always without being asked, of course, and always in a way that validates their own adoption ideologies.

It’s really pathetic, when you think about it. It’s like someone who listens only to country music watched a couple of Vanilla Ice videos once and then proceeded to tell hip hop fans how to understand their own music. Well I’m not going to stop, collaborate, and listen while others rewrite my life to suit their agendas. I’m not going to enter into discourse that demeans and marginalizes me from the start, that reduces me to less than a person or less than an adult, that allows the other participants to position themselves where they can correct me or admonish me or tell me how I should be conducting myself.

Seriously, some of you should read the things you write to adult adoptees and ask yourself if you would ever speak or write that way toward any other adults you know and respect, co-workers, friends, family, or strangers. It’s completely disgusting, the way some of you behave, and I wish I could say that adoptees were immune from coming to treat other adoptees this way, too. Sure, I take a disrespectful tone with some people quite often, but I never do it while simultaneously pretending to have respect for them. Honest disrespect is something I can respect. Dishonest, backhanded disrespect using admonishing, parental tone? Stop stinking up my blogosphere.


10 Responses to “The best thing we can do is tell our stories.”

  1. 1 iBastard July 11, 2007 at 3:51 pm

    And here I am at the end, writing toward non-adoptees again. Is there no escape?

  2. 2 mama2roo July 11, 2007 at 4:17 pm

    “It’s like someone who listens only to country music watched a couple of Vanilla Ice videos once and then proceeded to tell hip hop fans how to listen to their own music. Well I’m not going to stop, collaborate, and listen …”

    Okay, things like that I’ve quoted above…THAT is why I keep coming back to read your stuff. I like your directness, your honesty about your perspective, and the fact that you can be so smart and so CLEVER at the same time.

    And I agree with your point on this post as well. Each of us can grow from reading other perspectives whether we can see eye to eye or not, but only if we let ourselves. And reading disclaimers all the time so gets in the way of the flow of what’s being said. Perhaps we should all entitle our blogs, “IMHO…” and just get all disclaimers out of the way up front 😉

  3. 3 joy July 12, 2007 at 1:55 am

    Blue hearted people are good people

  4. 4 margaret July 12, 2007 at 1:50 pm

    I pop in here pretty regularly and I’ve never thought for one second that you were or should be writing for anyone other than yourself. I find you interesting and that’s why I come by. I derive a great deal from reading other people’s perspectives.

  5. 5 Sue July 12, 2007 at 6:39 pm

    I have been reading adult adoptee blogs for a couple of years now and I don’t have enough fingers and toes to count the number that have lost their center and focus after disrespectful AP’s violated their comments with lectures, admonishments and rude questions. I really hate how “my” people distort the discourse. I often want to ask the ones who keep coming back and trolling what they have done that is positive for their own kids lately?

    I’ve identified something I call reactive pride. It is not pride that comes from a fundamental sense of entitlement, it is pride that comes from surviving and fighting against persecution. My daughter already has it regarding the color of her skin. I wish it weren’t so. I wish that she simply felt as entitled as her white skinned peers do. But I cannot delete racism. And I don’t guess we can delete enough comments to make adoptee blogs sacred ground.

    At least reactive pride is better than reactive self-hate.

  6. 6 iBastard July 12, 2007 at 7:39 pm

    Well, in fairness I have trolled a few adoptive parent blogs, too. In my mind I wasn’t trolling, of course, I was trying to provoke thought, but I am sure to them I was trolling. It really is a matter of perspective. It’s hard to see something that is far removed from your own point of view without reacting to it.

  7. 7 Deborah July 12, 2007 at 9:19 pm

    Adoption groupies??? Oh, Christ! say it isn’t so! Once again, a brilliantly written post.

    I’d like to add that I AM angry, I did love my a-parents even though my mother was abusive and I am anti-adoption AND pro-reform. Oh, and I don’t feel “grateful” for having been “rescued”.

    I, too, wish I had not been adopted.

  8. 8 Kippa July 12, 2007 at 9:46 pm

    ” It’s hard to see something that is far removed from your own point of view without reacting to it.”
    Indeed. Particularly when an opinion very much opposed to my own is presented in a dogmatic way, it has the effect of (at least temporarily) hardening me in mine.

  9. 9 Sue July 13, 2007 at 8:55 pm

    Aw iB I think you are too fair. AP blogs don’t get nearly the kind of destructive trolling that AA blogs get, with a few miserable exceptions that hit the forums and get blitzed for a few days then recede into oblivion.

    Even though I post much that is in agreement with the “bitter adoptee” perspective I never get lectured and no one loses their mind and keeps coming back again and again to give me shit.

    Knocking on wood.

  10. 10 Libby July 13, 2007 at 11:46 pm

    I appreciate your writing very much. Both brilliant and hilarious – how can I resist returning? Sadly, adoptee voices are too often dismissed.

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