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1)I have no sympathy for the adoptive parents, child trafficking and kidnapping has been going on for years in regard to international adoption, if they were so desperate for somebody else s child that they didn't want to acknowledge that then that's their fault

2)I somehow think that if a large number of white western middle class kids had been fraudulently removed from their families the perpetrators (i.e the adoption agency) would have gone to prison for a very long time
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I don't talk about my feelings around adoption much off line, when I do its only to very close friends who I trust and who I know understand where I'm coming from. Online? I talk about it loads and the way people react to it is...odd. people get so angry, circling the wagons type angry, protect the status quo at all costs type angry that anger frightens me, even online, It has an edge to it. A "we will do anything to shut you up" edge. It's that anger that people use to tell me I'm crazy, illogical, irrational, stupid, evil, because of the way I think about adoption. This is often people who have nothing to do with adoption and as well as finding it frightening I find it really perplexing.

At first I thought it was just the adoption issue that was making them angry but critiquing adoption also entails on some level a critique of the nuclear family and it seems that people really, really can't cope with that

we have been fed the lie that the way white middle class westerners do family, two parents and one or more children pretty much in isolation is the best, the healthiest, often the only way to do family, that other ways of doing family are wrong, immoral, unenlightened. From where I'm standing this is actually a terrible way to do family, with the best will in the world two adults bringing up one or more children on their own is going to cause unnecessary, unhealthy stress. Family the way we do it or the way we are supposed to do it doesn't work. It creates incredibly dysfunctional people who then go on to create and raise more dysfunctional people

yet people are so invested in this damaging dysfunctional way of running society that it doesn't occur to them ever that their might be other options and they get really angry about how I "want babies to be abandoned or to grow up in abusive environments" etc etc. and if you say "well there are other options" they invariably reply with "no there aren't" or "well what are they then?" as if you are lying. Things people have said to me include

Yeah exactly! WHAT DO THEY DO WITH ALL THE KIDS? force parents who don't want them to take care of them? what if their parent's are dead? HOW IS IT EVEN AN ISSUE?

of all, it's just plain fucking delusional to think that we will ever live in a world where adoption is not needed. JFC, there are just some situations where there are no other options

So please tell me! If you are 100% anti-adoption, where will the abused children go? Or if their parents died, and there are no family members that can take them (financial reasons, emotional reasons, whatever).Tell me, what then?

It just totally startles me that people cant take one step sideways out of the box to think about the other options , see that families are not just made up of parents and children but cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents, all who could support the parents in bringing up the children and if things are really desperate take the children into their homes while the parents sort their lives out. That people have friends and neighbours who could also support them.

In fact if there was Less emphasis on how this peculiar insular nuclear family ideal was the right way to do things and more acknowledgment that its okay for family and friends to take part in raising a child a lot less children would need to be taken from their parents in the first place because the reduction of stress and the presence of other nurturers would massively reduce incidences of abuse and neglect, and would cushion the effects of poverty
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(this is a rewriten post, that I tidied up and made more coherent)

I read the first essay: A Question of Class in Dorothy Allisons Skin about five times and every single time I read it I cried. it bought home some sharp hard truths about the fact that my adoptive parents have no idea who their children are or where they come from.

I am not middle class, I have never been middle class but I was colonised by the middle class, I was taught that I was middle class, that my people were middle class, that I was exactly the same as all the other middle class kids around me. i have had advantages by being adopted into the middle class, but not as many as you would think, I still spent my early twenties crazy, broke and homeless i still don't really get the rules of middle class behaviour and sensibilities and I still fuck up royally all the time.

I grew up in a really affluent town in the south of England amongst good schools and university educated adults, but that's not who I am, that's not where I come from. I wasn't even born in to the working class, I come from the underclass, the chaotic poor who have given up, who have no where left to turn.

Nobody ever made connections or taught me to make connections between poverty, lack of education, mental heath issues and having all your children taken into care. I was taught that poverty was a personal failing. My adoptive mother would often scream at me or one of my brothers "Do you want to end up living in a council house?" as if that's the worse thing that could possibly happen, as if my people, my blood line for generations back hadn't lived in council houses.

And there were things we were expected to know, things good, well behaved, well bought up middle class kids knew, that we couldn't possibly have known, the three times table, the fact you don't talk about money, the words to silent night, as if I hadn't spent the first six years of my life in the east end of London not being fed or educated properly

Allison writes:

I understood that we were the bad poor: men who drank and couldn't keep a job; women, invariably pregnant before marriage, who quickly became worn, fat, and old from working too many hours and bearing too many children; and children with runny noses, watery eyes, and the wrong attitudes. My cousins quit school, stole cars, used drugs, and took dead-end jobs pumping gas or waiting tables. We were not noble, not grateful, not even hopeful. We knew ourselves despised. My family was ashamed of being poor, of feeling hopeless. What was there to work for, to save money for, to fight for or struggle against? We had generations before us to teach us that nothing ever changed, and that those who did try to escape failed.

And I understand that, my father was an alcoholic, him and and my brothers father ended up in prison, my other siblings fathers disappeared, half my sisters got pregnant as teenagers and all that goes back generation after generation, nobody was educated and if they worked they did mind numbing soul destroying jobs. And so many of them died young or disappeared

I grew up in a world where girls of the class I was born into are seen as slutty, promiscuous, are more likely to be teenage mothers, and boys of the class I was born into were expected to be vandals, layabouts, criminals. so we were policed heavily, I was screamed at for being cheap, provocative, obscene, flirtatious, and my brothers were regularly forced to watch a video that talked about how bad prison was, because despite all that babbling about nurture over nature my adoptive parents and their educated middle class friends still believed that the bad blood had a chance of winning through.

My mother, the woman who gave birth to me, got pregnant with my sister at 15 and in the environment I grew up in that was seen as a personal failure too, there was no understanding, no critique of the fact that there are clear understandable reasons why women of her social class who lived with intergenerational poverty, mental health issues and lack of education would get pregnant very young

and now I have this whole web of class issues that can't be untangled, there is so much dissonance in the way I relate to class. I am ashamed that I come from generations of poverty, embarrassed that my sister cant behave more middle class like in front of my adoptive parents, and angry that I got told for such a long time that where i come from was defective, wrong, and I should automatically be able to become middle class despite the experience of my formative years,


Apr. 3rd, 2010 10:47 pm
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I think one of the reasons adoption damage goes so deep is because we have no one to acknowledge our pain. So very few people are willing to hear us, or willing to acknowledge our grief and loss our trauma. Nobody wants to know that adoption hurts and damages adoptees.

The very first time I said anything about how much I hated being adopted and how fucked up everything was was on a cross triad forum. It was an adoptee support section of the forum but I still got ripped to shreds, not only that but the thread with my words, with my pain, with the very first time I'd ever said "this is not okay, this is fucked up" got moved to the debate forum so they could discuss weather or not it was appropriate for me to blame adoption for my pain. Luckily another adoptee (Addie I think) scooped me up and took me to another forum that is the only adoptee centric, adoptee focused forum on the web where we can say our truths without getting shouted down for being bitter, angry, ungrateful or misguided (and I learned my lesson about "triad" forums and websites, they are always for adoptive parents really) If I hadn't been pointed to the adoptee forum i don't know what I would have done, I think I would have clammed up and never ever talked about my adoptee pain ever again, i don't even want to think how many adoptees that happens to. We adoptees witness and support each others pain but I think to heal more deeply we need other witnesses, witnesses who have not been scarred by adoption, witnesses who can say "I haven't been through what you've been through but I can see and understand how damaging it was"

In my off line life although all my friends know I'm adopted I don't usually talk about my feelings around it much at all because even most people who love me, care about me, don't get it, because people do refuse to witness my pain. But one day I just blurted it out to one of my friends. We spent quite a lot of time together getting drunk and talking utter crap and telling each other things we may not have done if we had been sober so maybe that had something to do with it. I can't even remember what we were talking about or why the issue came up but she said something about adoption and i took a gamble and I said "yeah actually I'm not a big fan of adoption, I think there are lots of issues there." which was clearly softening greatly how I really felt about it. I was gobsmacked when she, a real kid, agreed with me, she referred to it as "an act of violence" That was a really powerful moment for me. I always felt that my adoption was a physical trauma but I'd never heard anyone describe it as violence before. and it is violence, to children, mothers, families, communities. I'm sure I bore her to tears talking about adoption politics but its so refreshing that i have someone in my of line life I can talk about it with without having to explain or apologise to.

There are other people in my life that get it now but that's after I've educated them on it, she was the first person offline I ever met who was totally right of the bat affirming about the way I felt about it and understanding of how damaging and oppressive it it, she was my witness and that has been incredibly healing and afirming for me
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I work with adolescents who have fallen through the education system and I cant ignore the fact that the adolescent boys I work with, One has been so damaged that he only makes sense about 40% of the time, one of them cant afford new shoes even though the ones hes wearing are split along the seams,and one is on the autistic spectrum. They do not have and will never have the privilege and chances and choices that the middle class university educated women who are big noises on the British feminist scene have. Yes they have more privilege than the adolescent girls I work with have but its still crumbs.

The more I interrogate my adoption issues the more I come to terms with the effect class had on my life, the effect where I come from had on my life and how its shaped me, and the shaming attitudes and prejudice towards where I come from that I received from the middle class adults all around me during my childhood and adolescence and most feminists I've ever met have no fucking Idea what that feels like, or what it feels like to be hungry, homeless, or stuck in a psych unit.

as I've said before feminists have dropped the ball on issues surrounding motherhood and repro justice, but those feminists who want to be parents often have no problem riding roughshod over other women's reproductive rights if it means they get a child out of it.

there's an assumption that the system largely WORKS because it works for THEM, because it works for middle class, able bodied, white, cis, hetero women then it mostly works it just needs tweaking here and there, they dont see how it doesn't work for others, how it causes systemic violence and hardship to others

I am so fucking sick of discussions about body hair and make up, I dont care what some one looks like or who they fuck, I'm not interested in peoples individual choices about things like that too often that turns into a feminist circle jerk of "I'm more feminist than thou" and doesn't take into account intersecting oppressions or life experiences.It's what people do in the wider sphere that interests me, I really dont think standing on street corners protesting is going to change anything. the people I work with and a large chunk of my religious community are making way more difference than most of the feminists I know, they are doing the hard graft ground work of supporting oppressed marginalised people and making resources available for them. None of them would dream of calling themselves feminist, they just do this shit because it's important because someone needs to do it.

I am sick of the invisablising of lives that arnt theirs, the silencing of voices that arnt theirs, the disbelif of experinces that arnt theirs, the dumbass middle class femmininity reaction of "but why do you have to be so meeeeen?" or "anger never got any one any where" bullshit when they are called out on any of this stuff.

but what do I call myself instead - "are you a feminist?" "no I'm a community weaver" doesnt really work
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for some of us adoption isn’t a wonderful thing to be celebrated or encouraged, lots of adoptees do not see adoption as a good thing, as something to be happy about. It's painful, confusing, identity annihilating. I am a colonised person, I lost my name, my culture, a language connection, a religious connection, my bloodlines. There are griefs that I cant even name.

The societies we live in are so invested in the lie that adoption is a win/win/win situation for everybody involved that it is totally ignored the two of the three parts of that triangle loose something irreplaceable. And its totally unacknowledged that we might grieve this forever, that it's not always something we can or should "get over" or "work through"

I always thought Frodo Baggins said it best:

How do you pick up the threads of an old life? How do you go on, when in your heart you begin to understand there is no going back? There are some things time cannot mend. Some hurts that go too deep that have taken hold.

I've meditated on this quote a lot and come to the conclusion that some pain doesn't go away, that for some of us who have been deeply and repeatedly wounded grief is not a season but a thread, a bass note in the structure of our lives and part of healing is coming to terms with that, of building something positive out of that grief and sadness, but also just living with it. I've learnt that if i don't acknowledge it as part of myself, if i don't honour it I get depressed I go blank, I don't feel all the good sweet ,positive things about my life either, cutting of my grief cuts of all my emotions. Grief is part of the kaleidoscope of who I am, I wouldn't be myself without it.
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This is something I wrote about before

This is taken from the Telegraph

She has now been warned that she will only be allowed a few hours with her baby, which is due in January, before it is taken into foster care.
After hearing the news, Miss Robertson, of Dunfermline, Fife, who is 26 weeks pregnant, said: “I couldn't believe it. I am so upset – I can't stop crying.”
Mr McDougall, an artist, said he wants to take on full responsibility for his son but claims that he is powerless because he is not married to Miss Robertson.
He added: “Social Services are ruining our lives. As we are not married – because social workers would not let us marry – it seems I have no rights as a dad at all.
“Kerry's gran is trying to apply for custody of Ben but social services have already told us it is unlikely she will be successful. We feel helpless.”

Luckily a slightly more recent report from GMTV suggest social services maybe backing down, but i still want people to know this is happening

Choice quotes from the video by Mark Goldring of Mencap
The starting point should be is it posible to keep the child with the family, and of course not just to look at Kerry, but to look at the support she also gets from her partner and from her wider circle of family and friends.

half of people with learning disabilities have their children taken into care, and we believe that many of those situations would be avoidable with relatively modest levels of support

People who are diferently abled need support in bringing their children up not punisment by having their children removed
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I am really excited about this! I stumbled across this charity on The One Show

Currently if a family become homeless social services has a legal obligation to take the children into care, which is horrendous, why they don't have a legal obligation to house the whole family I don't know

Save the family are a charity that houses and supports homeless families to stop their children being taken into care and teaches them life skills to deal with family life.

As well as being a humane and compassionate way to support people it is also very cost effective. It costs 50,000 pounds to keep a child in care for a year. Save the family can house support and reeducate/train a whole family for slightly less than that. It also will have an enormous positive knock on effect for the economic and social future. According to the After Adoption web site people who have spent time in the care system are sixty six percent more likely to have their own children taken into care. So it's really important to find ways of supporting families without splitting them up and without taking their children in to care if at all possible

I found these vids about the charity (the presenter is kind of annoying and patronising but they are worth while watching anyway)



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I stumbled across this blog post and the sheer cluelessness of the adoptive parents gobsmacked me so I left a blunt message saying:

“That poor child does not look happy. And just so you know, most adoptees hate the term "gotcha day””

The comment wasn't published but later that day I got an email from the blogger saying:

You decided to write this on my blog: “That poor child does not look happy. And just so you know, most adoptees hate the term "gotcha day””
I want to hear why you think “gotcha” is such a bad thing?
BTW – I somehow doubt that you speak for “most adoptees”.

so I, being the helpfull adoptee I am sent a reply back

I don't speak FOR any adoptee but myself, I do however, talk to, listen to and read other adult adoptees so I know how a lot of them feel, which, I imagine, is more than you do.

as to the gotcha day thing, I suggest you read the comments on these posts

also these

and finally received this outstandingly patronising piece of condescension

I want you to know that I looked at those websites.

If you knew us, or at least read the rest of the blog, you would know that we plan to celebrate his birthday, not his gotcha day, and we don’t plan to ignore the fact that he’s adopted – it’ll be pretty obvious. Your imagination is incorrect in the fact that we do keep up with lots of adoptees, and are friends with some. We’ve read books about adoptees as bitter as some of those on these sites, and we’ve even met a few. we plan to learn from the families that have done adoption well.

Your anger is obvious, and I pray that you’ll find rest and peace in Jesus. He heals the broken hearted, and sets people free from bondage.
As for your inexcusable rudeness and harsh judgment toward me and my family – I forgive you.
You should know, however, that before I met Jesus, I was a very spiteful and angry person. He changed all of that.

Firstly i didn't say anything about whether they were going to celebrate "gotcha" day or not, my point was the label is horrible. Nor did I suggest they were going to ignore the fact he was adopted. Where did that idea even come from?

Once again adoptees who don't agree with adoptive parents assessment of situations are labeled bitter and surely weather an adoption has been done "well" or not should be up to the adoptee to judge? And why not listen to adoptees who had bad adoptions so you can learn what not to do? Like for instance not wantonly destroying a culturally specific keepsake because it does not fit in with your worldview.

And then the enormous assumptions about my spiritual affiliations. The way people behave often has nothing to do with their spiritual beliefs. Some of the nicest most genuine people I have ever met have not been Christians, almost all of the people who have seriously damaged and traumatised me were Christians. Also just because I don't feel the need to splurge my Christianity all over this blog doesn't mean I am not a christian. Just because I am angry about injustice does not mean I am not a christian. There's nothing unchristian about anger. Jesus got angry. My faith is a private thing between me, my religious community, and God. I don't feel it's generally at all appropriate to bring it up on a blog that has nothing to do with religion. And if I wasn't a Christian this kind of patronisation sure wouldn't make me want to be one.

73adoptee has an interesting post about these people also
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I've seen several posts around the adoptee blog sphere lately about the way we as adoptees interact with other members of the adoption community

Most of it was i think triggered of by this post over at Grown in my heart.

I've got a lot of respect for adoptees who spend time and effort informing and educating adoptive parents about all the issues with adoption but it's not something I am willing to do, I'm not here for that. I don't care if adoptive and prospective adoptive parents think I am "angry" "bitter" "ungrateful." I'm not here to educate or placate adoptive parents. Those that don't want to listen to me would find an excuse even if I was as accommodating and acquiescing to the way they think a "good adoptee" should behave as I could be. Those who want to learn from me will learn anyway despite and sometimes because of my rage and pain and anger.

I don't consider myself as part of the adoption community, I have no loyalty, no obligations to the adoption community. I am also not part of an adoption triad. Even if i believed such a concept was valid I wouldn't be, one parent is dead, one is missing and two I am estranged from. I am part of the adoptee community and that is my first loyalty. I don't think the adoptee community and the adoption community can actually meet in the middle, adoption is always about the commodification of children and when those children grow up why should they be expected to make common cause with their oppressors?

The whole "you are too emotional/overreacting/bitter..I know x type of people who don't feel like you" is a way for privileged people to protect their own interests while silencing the less privileged people. If they can paint us as "broken" rather than society as broken then they don't have to try and change or fix anything, they can just pretend we are anomalies and the children that they have acquired are never going to have the issues that we have.

So I'm going to just say what I say, with my anger, my ingratitude my "bitterness" (though actually that's one thing I'm not however much adoptive parents try to paint me with it.) Adoptive parents don't have a right to be tiptoed around so their feelings don't get hurt, I spent my formative years doing that, I'm through with it.
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The F word have a guest post, Say no to Eggsploitation! up explaining that the Human Fertilization And Embryology Authority is likely to overturn the ban on paying women for donating their eggs. This is exploitative because:

offering financial incentives to do something that very few women are currently offering to do because of the risks, will lead to poor women...being exposed to health risks, whilst only middle-class women who can afford the fees and the IVF industry will benefit. In Eastern Europe, there have already been a number of scandals in which women have died or been hospitalised after hormone treatment, in order to donate eggs to Western European ‘fertility tourists’.).

the post goes on to explain:

Feminists must make it clear that there is strong public opposition to the HFEA’s plan. Sadly, the feminist movement in Britain has historically failed to campaign on these issues, leaving an open field, for, of all people, the pro-life lobby to carry the banner of protection of women and against commercialisation of reproduction. It is time that this absurd situation changed.

This really gives me hope, I find it really frustrating that British feminists don't talk about reproductive exploitation, that we don't seem to have grasped the fact that middle class white western women do not deserve children at any cost even that of exploiting disadvantaged women.

Something else that often gets ignored in discussions around egg (and sperm) donation is that the "end products", the people created by this method often have very strong feelings on this matter. We should be listening to their voices

Anyway the no2eggsploitation campaign have a blog Here which contains their contact info.
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I've been meaning to write about this for a while and recently feministe posted up some handy links on the subject one to The daily beast and one to The American Prospect

Increasingly it seems that one of the acceptable ways that people acquire their "own" children is by paying a woman in the developing world to be implanted with a child and carry it to term for them. To me this seems outstandingly exploitative. Women from poorer countries are chosen so the "parents" do not have to pay as much as they would in the west. Almost all the women who chose to be surrogates are doing it to give themselves and their children an adequate standard of living. The article Childbirth at the Global Crossroads explains that:

Saroj turned to surrogacy so she could move to a rain-proof house and feed her family well.

and quotes another woman as saying:

We can't live on my husband's earnings, and we had no hope of educating our daughters.

in the Outsourcing Pregnancy an embryologist explains

They get a decent amount of money. They get free food, free boarding, and free clothes, and they are housed in a nice place"

and the first article quotes a clinics founder and director as saying:

residents are offered daily English classes and weekly lessons in computer use. Patel arranges for film screenings and gives out school backpacks and pencil boxes to surrogates' children. She hopes to attract donations from grateful clients to help pay children's school fees as well.

So essentially these women are doing it for money, okay everybody does something for money, but if they had decent housing, health care and education for their children would they really be doing something so physically taxing and emotionally tumultuous?

Both articles seem to be quite dismissive of the effects of surrogacy on the women, however Childbirth at the Global Crossroads does at least acknowledge that the women who are paid to be surrogates do have feelings about the children they carry:

Leela openly bonded with her baby. "I am the baby's real mother," she says. "I carried him. I felt him kick. I prayed for him. At seven months I held a celebration for him. I saw his legs and hands on the sonogram. I suffered the pain of birth."

And why wouldn't they? Much research had been done on in utero bonding and how damaging it is for the woman and the child if this bond is severed directly after birth. I wouldn't think the effects would be any different even if the surrogate and the child were not genetically related to each other, as one surrogate said

"It's my blood, even if it's their genes."

There are enough first mothers talking now that we know that giving up a child that has grown and been nurtured inside you is devastating and yet we are willing to tell ourselves either that these surrogates will feel no grief or the need for someone to have their "own" children is more important than these women's pain.

These articles highlight how often the want of a child turns to short sighted selfishness Outsourcing Pregnancy tells of one couple who:

explored adoption. They researched what Griebe termed "a baby factory type deal," where you basically pay for a "ready-made baby.

As if babies came off conveyor belts and didn't have "ready made families" who just needed support. The same couple found a surrogate in India

because of the legal issues. Here, there would always be the chance of the mother coming back and saying, I'd like to have visitation. Over there they can actually have it legalized.

So they, like many adoptive parents, felt that it was acceptable to exploit poor women in a developing country so they could pretend that their child had never belonged to any one else.

There also doesn't seem to be much thought about how the children will feel in these situations, in some cases (as with adoption) it seems the child isn't thought about at all:

But Dr. Patel... sees for-profit surrogacy as a "win-win" for the clinic, the surrogate, and the genetic parents.

so it seems it doesn't matter how the "product", the child feels about the situation and as with adoption there is the assumption that the situation is uncomplicatedly positive for the first Mother when it very well may not be, it is once again about pandering to affluent middle class peoples wants while exploiting the first mother and ignoring the needs of the child.

There is a discussion about whether the children will ever want to find their first Mothers

I asked Dr. Chakravarty if he thought that some children born of surrogacy would one day fly to India in search of their "womb mothers." ... "Yes," he said. But chances are such an 18-year-old would not find her womb mother. Instead, she might come to realize she had been made a whole person by uniting parts drawn from tragically unequal worlds.

but the assumptions and tone here are uncomfortably close to the but why aren't you grateful? Why Do you want to find her? rhetoric that far too many adoptees hear, and you know it maybe that the she would have the reaction suggested but it is just as likely that she will never feel whole and she may be furiously angry that we live in a world that is so unequal that this kind of exploitation is acceptable, and that she has been one of the exploited parties.

Unlike a lot of writings on issues such as this Childbirth at the Global Crossroads seems to have a very coherent, if nowhere near critical enough, understanding on how reproductive exploitation such as this fits into the wider exploitation that developing world populations experience under capitalism.

The Akanksha clinic is just one point on an ever-widening two-lane global highway that connects poor nations in the Southern Hemisphere to rich nations in the Northern Hemisphere, and poorer countries of Eastern Europe to richer ones in the West. A Filipina nanny heads north to care for an American child. A Sri Lankan maid cleans a house in Singapore. A Ukrainian nurse's aide carries lunch trays in a Swedish hospital. Marx's iconic male, stationary industrial worker has been replaced by a new icon: the female, mobile service worker.

Person to person, family to family, the First World is linked to the Third World through the food we eat, the clothes we wear, and the care we receive. That Filipina nanny who cares for an American child leaves her own children in the care of her mother and another nanny. In turn, that nanny leaves her younger children in the care of an eldest daughter.

Until we live in a world where affluent middle class westerners don't think they have a right to everything including people, at the lowest possible price none of these exploitations are going to stop.

Childbirth at the Global Crossroads suggests that regulating the surrogacy industry would protect the surrogates:

Observers fear that a lack of regulation could spark a price war for surrogacy -- Thailand underselling India, Cambodia underselling Thailand, and so on -- with countries slowly undercutting fees and legal protections for surrogates along the way.

However as international adoption is supposed to be regulated,yet we hear over and over again of exploitation, corruption and child trafficking that happens because of the demand for infants, why would the surrogacy industry be any different? Things are only going to change when we stop thinking of children as must have commodities and poor disadvantaged women as providers of those commodities
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I recently came across another blog entry on the so called merits of positive adoption language. I left a comment directing the author of the blog to this piece of writing. She didn't post my comment but she did send me an email.

Thank you for your comment on our adoption blog. I am not sure if you are the author of the article you referred me to, or if you are a member of the antiadoption group. I know that some adoptees have not have good experiences, and I am sorry if you are one of those people. This article was obviously written by a person with a lot of anger about his/her own adoption.

I could see how some of what I think is "positive" adoption language could be hurtful to someone who was partially raised by their biological parents before being adopted and may feel strong loyalty to them.

I don't think this article pertains to most international adoptions, and definitely not to my daughter's adoption. Most children orphaned in China are orphaned at birth. Obviously, many of those birth parents probably wanted to raise their child but couldn't because of the one child policy or because of low income and potentially expensive requirements of a child's special need. I know that our daughter was left at birth. She never knew her birth mother and most likely never will. I would love for them to meet some day as I know my daughter will always have a hole in heart for this women and her biological father, but I am the women who has chosen to love and raise her, and I am her mother, parent, adoptive mother.....whatever you want to call me.

I think the list I provided is very helpful for adoptions like ours, and is meant in the best interest of my child, not me. I can stand being offended, but I don't want her ears to hear comments about me not being her "real mom." I am the realest mom she has.

Thank you, Kelly

It irks me as it always does that the assumption is made that I am not worth listening to because I must have had a bad adoptee experience because I am anti adoption. There's a whole bundle of assumptions there, firstly why does objecting to "positive adoption language" mean I have had a bad experience? And secondly so what if i did have a bad experience? Are adoptees who had bad experiences not worth listening to? Those of you reading this who think that the only adoptees who want adoption reform or who are anti adoption have had bad adoption experiences and are not worth listening to because of this might want to read these two posts: You must have had a bad life... and The Value of the Abused Voice

I don't see what being raised partly by my original parents or not has to do with anything I have no loyalty to my first parents but that doesn't mean I don't think of them, as well as my adoptive parents, as my real parents

The third paragraph uses nonsensical double speak and flags up the selfishness of adopters. If your child has a mother in China who is still living she is not and never was an orphan. If adopters really cared about the children they adopt and their families, instead of adopting they would pay the second child fine which would enable the families to stay together (The fine is income based so the poorest families who are overwhelmingly the ones that have to give their children up, have the smallest fines.)

It seems to me that this adoptive parent isn't bothering to read any of the excellent blogs or books written by Transracial adoptees and then she will be surprised at the issue her adopted child will be dealing with as she gets older. From what I understand trans racial adoptees have more identity issues to deal with, not less, than domestic adoptees and using language that is designed to placate adopters rather than support adoptees is not going to help her with those issues.

I was discussing the post and the email with some of my fellow adoptees and one of them responded to this part of the blog post:

It is common for people to make comments to adoptive parents and their children that are rude, invasive or just accidentally hurtful.


This is so true. People often make really hurtful remarks about my adoption. People often tell me that my "real" parents are the ones who adopted me, and don't let me hold the beauty of having 4 "real" parents. It is hurtful to be still seen as a child, and not recognized that my voice as an adult, and an adoptee (who IS adopted...cause it's an awesomely hard life-long experience for me) is just as valid as those who actually had a say in the terms of the adoption. I'd like to think people labelling me as "angry" or "anti-adoption" are simply being accidentally hurtful, but sometimes I can't help but believe they are just being rude.

Which just says it perfectly. "positive adoption language" is and will always be about the adopters and not the adoptees, nobody cares about how adoptees feel over the language used
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I stumbles across a comment that mssc54 (an adoptive father) left on a post over at the Love in Asia blog that contained the paragraph:

Incidentally, I think biology includes more than DNA. I think biology also includes manerisms, quirks, speach patterns, etc. Birth Parents only includes the DNA. Our little boy and girl have developed some of our traits and although they possess none of our DNA they do exhibit some of our biological traits.

I'm sorry did you fail biology? DNA isn't something you pick up by osmosis. One hundred percent of a child's DNA comes from its biological parents, there is no way of changing that. Now absolutely children are influenced by the environment they grow up in and the people they grow up around but that's not biology it's nurture.

Too often adoptees get told that genetics don't matter that blood isn't thicker than water, that nurture is supreme and nature is irrelevant,
but those of us who have grown up and are in reunion know this is ridiculous. Yes we do pick up mannerisms from our adoptive parents, of course, but we also already have mannerisms that were wired in from birth. When my adopted brother is with his bio brothers, who he did not grow up with, you can't tell who is talking unless you are looking at them their speech patterns, inflections and language use are so similar. How can that be anything other than genetics?

My sister and I, who didn't grow up together, like and dislike the same food, are attracted to the same people, laugh at the same things, our brains think in the same pattern, how can that be anything other than genetic?

When adopted children are told by their adopted parents either overtly or subtly, that blood doesn't matter, that DNA doesn't matter they often feel a bundle of complex negative feelings. Blood matters to us, we want to know where we come from, who we look like, who we are like.

This rhetoric can also make adoptees feel guilty that they are not enough like their adoptive family, they feel guilty for not being able to fit in when often the reason they can't fit in is because they have genetic traits, thought patterns or aptitudes that none of their adoptive family have.

Growing up without someone who mirrors you genetically is incredibly lonely and unanchoring for a lot of adoptees and adoptive parents should be acknowledging that to themselves and their adopted children. They should be acknowledging that there are positive aspects of our personalities that are genetic, that did come from our first parents, that we are not blank slates,they should be celebrating differences between family members, not be trying to force their adopted children into the shape they assume their biological children would have come in.
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These days adoption agencies and social services routinely use what is referred to as positive adoption language also sometimes referred to respectful adoption language. Examples of this can be found here, and here (that whole second website disturbs the shit out of me) and its really clear just by looking at the lists that the language is only positive and respectful for adoptive parents, not for adoptees or first parents.

According to Perspectives press:

Respectful Adoption Language (RAL) is vocabulary about adoption which has been chosen to reflect maximum respect, dignity, responsibility and objectivity about the decisions made by birthparents and adoptive parents in discussing the family planning decisions they have made for children who have been adopted

So firstly it doesn't take in to account at all how the adoptees are going to feel about the language used and secondly referring to someone as a birthparent is not respectful or positive, almost all the adoptees and firsts parents I've come across hate it. This article written from the perspective of a natural mother argues that using the prefix "birth" biases the way society thinks about adoption in favour of the adoptive parents:

When the word "parent" is used for a prospective adopter who is unrelated to a child and the "birth" term is used for the child’s own mother, it is just expected a mother must surrender her child. "Birth mother" is like a job title or worse - she is merely a "thing" whose function is to make a baby for others.

Everyone recognizes that a parent has a right to raise his or her own child. Yet in court when the foster caregiver or prospective adopter is called a “parent” and the true parents are called “bios” the outcome is predetermined. After lengthy delays initiated by those in the “system”, once they are finally in court the true parents of a child may be proven to be fit in every way yet still have their parental rights terminated.

Every citizen has a right and even an obligation to call a natural mother a “mother” or “natural mother” and thus prevent the temptation for others to separate children from their family any time they feel like it or can profit from it. Using the term "adoptive" for someone who has adopted is not disrespectful but honest and will avoid confusion about relationships. Any person who has adopted and who truly cares about children should be in favor of adjusting their language accordingly. Those who have not yet adopted of course must be called “prospective adopters”, not “parents”

But also as an adoptee its a term I hate, I much prefer to use Mother, it is almost always obvious which mother I'm talking about. My post adoption social worker insists on referring to my father and my siblings as my "birthfather" and my "birthsiblings" which apart from being really fucking disrespectful makes absolutely no sense.

perspective press weighs in on the matter saying

Those who raise and nurture a child are his parents: his mother, father, mommy, daddy, etc Those who conceive and give birth to a child are his birthparents: his birthmother and birthfather.

Why is it the natural parents that need the qualifier and not the adoptive parents?

Back to the lists, whats with the phrase "Adoption triad"? This probably isn't a phrase people who aren't involved in adoption have heard, but it is always used to mean the three parties involved in the adoption are equal and have the same amount of power. Well adoptees have no power (even adult adoptees because no one listens to us), first parents have very little power and adoptive parents have all the power, so there is no triad.

I have real issues with the "was adopted/is adopted" thing as well. Perspective press says:

When it is appropriate to refer to the fact of adoption, it is correct to say “Kathy was adopted,” (referring to they way in which she arrived in her family.) Phrasing it in the present tense– “Kathy is adopted”–implies that adoption is a disability with which to cope.

But I am adopted, it wasn't a one time deal that didn't effect anything else in my life, and while maybe not being a disability, being adopted is always something that needs to be negotiated, it effects all my relationships and will do for ever because it is such a profound life altering thing to happen to someone

Perspective press then decides to continue injecting its own bias on the subject of homestudies

The process by which families prepare themselves to become parents is often referred to as a homestudy. This term carries with it an old view of the process as a weeding out or judgment. Today, more and more agencies are coming to view their role as less God-like and more facilitative. The preferred positive term, then, is parent preparation, a process whereby agency and prospective adopters come to know one another and work toward expanding a family.

In light of the adoptees I know and how so many adoptions end up as car crashes because of abusive or just clueless adoptive parents trying to make a home study less judgemental or less of a weeding out process is just fucking immoral and criminal, home studies should be more strict not less. I don't want adoptive parents to think that "parent preparation" is some cushy thing that they wont get judged on.

Back again to perspective press on how to talk about reunions

Frequently news stories refer to reunions between people who are related genetically but have not been raised in the same family. In most such instances these encounters do not carry with them the full spectrum of understanding that the usual use of the term reunion implies. While children adopted at an older age may indeed experience a reunion, most adoptees join their families as infants, and as such they have no common store of memories or experience such as are traditionally shared in a reunion. The more objective descriptor for a meeting between a child and the birthparents who planned his adoption (a term which neither boosts unrealistic expectations for the event nor implies a competition for loyalties between birthparents and adoptive parents) is meeting.

How is meeting the woman who gave birth to you, who carried you for nine months. who was the first person to hold you not a reunion exactly, quite apart from the fact that lots of adoptees were with their first families long enough to remember them. the last sentence in the above quoted paragraph is really telling though. there is no such thing as "objective" language, the language we use both shows and shapes the way we see the world and here it appears again that the important thing about the language is how the adoptive parents feel, nothing about how the adoptee feels, quite frankly how any of my parents feel about any of my adoption issues doesn't matter to me. I use the language I need to use and I actively resist language that adoptive parents use to try and shape the world to the way they want it to be rather than seeing and respecting the lived reality of the adoptee

x posted to [ profile] anti_adoption


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