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The Adoptoland Echo Chamber – Part 1

by Laura on October 15th, 2014

What is an “adoptoland echo chamber,” and how can we escape it?

This is the question that Deanna and I asked ourselves recently … what are your thoughts?

echo 4

 

Laura_wedding headshotLaura: When I first joined the online adoptee community and adoption activism bloggers, I felt such a sense of relief. It was the opposite of an emotional trigger; it was an adoption groundswell, a veritable surge of calm and peace. These are my people! They get me! I finally belong!

The honeymoon period is normal, and it was short-lived. Of course, I found plenty of like-minded people, but I also discovered such division within the adoption community I felt the blowback all the way in Serbia. (Just post a question such as: Should adoption be illegal? … and you’ll see what I mean.)

As a result, we have two effects:

1. Those of us who do agree with one another “advocate” in an echo chamber of like-mindedness. We don’t reach-out; our blogs aren’t read by those who need to be informed.

And

2. At the same time, the divisiveness within the adoption community continues to be nit-picky and sometimes even petty and mean. (Just use the phrase “birth mother” in the wrong place, and you’ll see what I mean.) This in-fighting leads to a different sort of echo chamber in which those outside the community write us off as “not having our stuff together,” if we can’t even settle on terminology.

 

Deanna Face_Laura DennisDeanna: I agree. It becomes very wearisome and on the contrary, some of us do have our stuff together and lead successful lives with little time for that kind of drama.

Many people have asked me to turn the public Adoptee Restoration Facebook page private so people can share without their non-adoptee friends or family reading. I haven’t done that and I won’t. Reason being, I see what happens on every other private page I’ve been on. The founder/moderator has to do a ton of moderation and in many cases they leave the page in frustration and turn it over to others. Or splits happen out of these arguments and people start their own pages. If I keep the page public, my rationale is that people use a bit more discretion and don’t lash out as much.

I understand why the private pages become as they do. There is so much pain in adoption! So many people aren’t healed. And, it’s not just that they share their pain about their AP’s or their birth family. Many become touchy or easily offended and strike out at the least thing with others on the page. I am amazed at how easily people are offended, and what they are offended by.

I have noticed a lot of people who aren’t touchy or don’t walk on eggshells (translation: who have their stuff together/have done a lot of work on themselves) tend to get quiet on pages after a while or don’t interact much—they don’t have time for the drama.

I have learned in leading an in-person support group that the same issues can present themselves. It’s really not that much different from online.

 

both images from Gratisography

both images from Gratisography

Laura: I mean, don’t get me wrong, I still get mad, too. I guess I’ve just learned where to pick my fights. Your decision to keep your page public is a smart one. I do believe that private pages have their place, and cherish a few that I do participate in … but I’ve seen that type of lashing out, and I know that it comes from a place of pain.

The question remains: How do we escape this echo chamber? [Caveat: this in no way means I’m forgetting to appreciate all of the readers and community members with whom I’m become friends and colleagues. It just means that I think as adoption activists, we should try to reach a wider population.]

I think that there is something to this idea of facing our own issues, with the help and support of the adoption community. Then we can stop the in-fighting and start to see commonalities with others who have suffered (or are suffering) from trauma, loss, and grief. Those who are not adoptees, first families, or adoptive parents.

There’s then of course the issue of those outside the community then negating our feelings, poo-pooing our argument that we have experienced a trauma, and scoffing at our suggestion to find shared aims … which can be triggering. … Unless we have healed, these adoption-related emotional triggers can cause us to revert back to the echo chamber …

 

Head over to Adoptee Restoration for Part 2 of this very important post!

 

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14 Comments
  1. This is a great topic and IMO a really important discussion. I have two first thoughts. One is that in my own mind and in my discussions with others, I try to keep separate whether the topic is adoption "healing" or adoption "rights". In my case that means whether I am wearing my psychotherapist "hat" or my adoptee rights advocate "hat". I think discussions go best if the two are clearly kept separate…at least as much as human beings can keep their healing/woundedness separate from any discussion. :-) Both are important, but what you need to heal is often very different that what you need to persuade other people that your cause is just.

    Second, I think the echo chamber issue presents in many different areas of life, not just adoptee issues. Lots of "causes' (environmental, organic food, political, etc.) "split" over the personality/philosophical/baggage issues of the people who are involved. And people who agree end up talking to each other. (Those who watch Fox news watch Fox news. Those who watch MSNBC watch MSNBC.) So some of this is just what happens in life.

    Solutions? I simply choose to put my energy where I believe it will work best in the world. "Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear." And I'd love to hear other people's thoughts on this!

  2. I think like most any emotional and passionate topic such as adoption there will be very divisive opinions. Like minded people are always more comfortable where they are ….the preaching to the choir concept. But if there is to be any growth for adoption roles, then it's important to listen to each other. I have a unique perspective on adoption. I have experienced each part of the adoption triad; adoptee, birth mother and adoptive mother. I talk about this in my not yet released memoir She Named You Donna. Please visit my blot at shenamedyoudonna.blogspot. com where I and others share their view from their perspective.

    • pammcrae permalink

      I am both a "birth" mother and an adoptive mother too, and in the three years of my reunion with my first son, I have jumped onto the activist bandwagon with both feet. I part of my healing IS my activism, so it's hard for me to separate the two. And the more I resolve some of my issues, the better I feel and the more committed to reform I am. I'd like to see an end to adoption, except for rare cases and exceptional circumstances, which do happen. But the adoption of newborns is anathema to me. You can read more of what I think at pammcrae.blogspot.com My Word. I'll check out your blog, Julie.

  3. familyadvocate permalink

    I will be interested to see more comments and part two.

    In-fighting in the adoption community has always existed. It predates the Internet, as does my involvement in the movement and activism. (Yes, I am a dinosaur).

    One of the major schisms is in strategy for access. There is a small but vocal contingency of "bastards" who publicly oppose legislation that is "unclean" while others accept baby steps and recognize the fact that many laws progress incrementally. I myself am totally committed to access as a civil right and as such there are no compromises. Equal is equal. BUT…I also live in NJ where it took reformists THIRTY-FOUR years to get a very slightly compromised bill passed. And I have no doubt that in the future compromised bills can and will be revisited as things progress – very slowly toward openness and honesty in adoption.

    My long-term view of in-fighting in general is that each one of us progresses at our own pace, much like the famous stages of grief, and like those stages some of us get stuck in anger or denial. Those who progress in a forward path get frustrated that others do not. Those embroiled in anger think others are naive for not seeing how much there is to be angry about. AND…even if we all progressed along the same trajectory, there would always be new people joining the movement who are not at the level of growth that we are.

    I am often frustrated that newbies have no idea the history of adoption reform and think they invested searching or ask why they cannot have their own BC! But we must be patient and take responsibility that WE have failed in educating the public! Many adoptees do not even know that their records are sealed!

    So what to do? You learn to accept that each of us is at out own level of awareness and stage of grief. Work at whatever level you are and do what YOU can do to get the message to the public. I write blog posts that are geared for educating the public, as well as some that are pure VENTS!

    What has helped me with acceptance of the differences and "in-fighting" is recognizing that all grassroots movements have had these. Check out the history of second wave feminism. There many schisms. There is no one feminist position on many issues such as prostitution. Some feminists have long believed it is an option for women and should be legalized to be safe and others believe it leads to too much exploitation.

    Additionally, I have long advocated, and written about, us all joining forces on the one thing we all agree on and that is simply that adoptees deserve access to their own birth certificates. Period. Whether anti-adoption or not, whether we are ok calling ourselves birth mothers or not, we can all agree that secrecy and lies have no pl;ace in adoption today.

    Mirah http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mirah-riben/

    • pammcrae permalink

      I should have known that was you, Mirah. I smiled when I got to your name. What you say is so reasonable. An end to secrecy is, so far as I'm concerned, non-negotiable. I also want to do all I can to de-stigmatize single motherhood. We need a more inclusive, supportive culture for all mothers, married and otherwise. Much work remains to be done.

  4. kcourt40 permalink

    This is a great post – and I completely agree with your concept that most adoption talk takes place in an echo chamber. I find myself cheering or championing like-minded individuals (I'm a birthmother). And I also find I contribute easier to these conversations – like it's a pep rally. Where I'm ambivalent about posting my thoughts is in forums and spaces where they would probably shake things up and quite frankly, piss people off. (I'm a firm believer in the possibilities of open adoption. It's not right for everyone, but in the right circumstances, it can be hugely beneficial to the child, APs, and BPs)

    I think an important point to remember is that we can disagree without being disrespectful. Unfortunately, I can name a few very prominent activists who do nothing more than use their space to incite anger. They are sarcastic, passive-aggressive and bitter. I believe in speaking your truth, but I don't believe there is room for some of the vitriolic language I see out there.

    Looking forward to reading more of your conversation!

    • pammcrae permalink

      I agree. I've dropped out of some groups that were just too ugly. Not helpful.

  5. familyadvocate permalink

    I don't see single-parent stigma anymore. I see a double standard. If you are single and wealthy you can adopt! If you are young, and not independently of means you are at high risk for losing your child to adoption. Beggars and Choosers. reverse Robinhoodism – take the babies of the poor and give them to the wealthy. No stigma on any single celeb who has a baby or adopts.

    But I do see a LOT more than acces. For starters we need to stop issuing falsified BCs and no one is working toward that goal. We need to remove all the payments from adoption. We need to have a regulatory commission. We need ethical guidelines. We need to stop enmeshing expectant moms with pre-adoptive parents and stop the payments for support…LOTS that needs to be done.

    • cs2014 permalink

      "I don't see single-parent stigma anymore"

      I've found that these days, the emphasis is more about "unplanned pregnancy" than "single parenthood". The fact that one's pregnancy is unplanned is used against expectant mothers, eg unplanned is equated with irresponsible and that very act of creating an "unplanned" child is emphasised to make a woman feel she is a a "bad" mother before she even gives birth. . Statements like "children deserve parents who have planned for them" can make a woman with an unplanned pregnancy feel that she could never be as good a mother as one who has "planned for a child".

      • familyadvocate permalink

        The word "unplanned" is very much like the term "birth mother."

        Both were taken by those within the adoption community, specifically birth moms, as a less derogatory term than what was being used. Birth mother replaced biological mother and unplanned replaced unwed.

        Now, we have evolved further. And now we see the deeper meaning and use of unplanned just as you said. it is used to promote adoption by separating single mother by choice from single mothers. One become socially acceptable and the other not.

  6. familyadvocate permalink

    as for support groups, i think they are safer when there are separate groups for each of the three parties involved in adoption. safer and less reactive and nasty. they can get heated too, but not as much, I think.

  7. I am adopted. I have known since I was four years old. For the last forty years I have wanted to know why I was given up for adoption and what nationality I am. As I got older I also wanted to know about family medical history. I had great parents growing up. I couldn’t have asked for better parents. It isn’t about them. It is about finding out who I am. I am new to the search world. I was always too busy with life. Now that Ohio has unsealed their records I plan on searching. I also am going to film a documentary about my search and the law changing. I don’t understand the fighting you have talked about. I guess I just haven’t seen it. I want to show everything I can in the film but I don’t see this as a major issue, or even a minor one. I think some people just like to argue. Some people get offended a little too easily. That is their issue. I don’t want or need to get involved. I think we all agree that records need to be unsealed. I would actually love to meet someone in Ohio that opposed the new law. I would love to get their side of the story for the film. I hope everyone just learns to respect each other.

  8. cs2014 permalink

    I think one of the problems is the word adoption has many different meanings and it is best to define what one means. For example, if one specifies that they are talking about the modern Western form of adoption, it can help people to understand where one is coming from.

  9. Adoption of the new forces and elements has been ensured for the strength of the people. Now the whole ambit of the authentic and such elements has been concerned. The whole game has been turned for the right use of the forces for the achievements in life.

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