Sunday, January 22, 2006
Adoption DOT COM?
"More support, pre- and post-adoption. Adoptive parents can join local and national online groups by children's age or down to specific orphanages. Snoqualmie mom Toddie Downs, who adopted her daughter last summer, joined a Yahoo newsgroup specifically for her agency travel mates, as well as a "dossier to China" group with other parents whose documents were sent that month.
“Support remains important even for longtime adoptive families. "When children become teenagers, new issues come up," said Bill Mudd, a SeaTac dad of five adopted daughters. "To be able to confer with other people about how they handle it gives you a lot more tools."
“Better-informed parents. Parents can research agencies, the type of adoption, costs, country requirements, health conditions and cultural resources.”
This article, from the Seattle Times http://makeashorterlink.com/?F6BE2628C goes on and on about how wonderful the Internet has been for adoptive parents/families.
It brings ups a subject I have written about elsewhere.... that sadly the reverse seems to be true for adoption reformists.
I began working toward opening and humanizing adoption in the early 70's, long before the World Wide Web. I co-founded a local search and support group, which met monthly in members’ homes.
There were many such adoption search and support groups in every city and state. We were a powerful network, considering all we had to connect us were telephone wires (literally, because there were no cell phone or wireless). We all "knew" one another even if we never met - or occasionally met at a national conference, but we referred adoptees and birthparents (and an occassional adoptive parent) for the help they needed in the state the birth took place if they long since moved away. We knew who had what search connections where. And, as soon as we learned of an unscrupulous searcher we were able to warn people to avoid that person.
But more than this, we were able to offer the magical camaraderie of face-to-face contact. We eye-witnessed the amazement, the tears of joy, on the face of each new mother, year after year, decade after decade, as she walked into one of those rooms and said: "I always thought I was the only one!" We held the trembling hands of women who had never told another living soul that they had had a child and placed it for adoption - not even the men they were married to for decades.
Having the full value of all the aspects of communication (75-90% of which is bodily and missed via email/internet "connections") we were able to help mothers decide how and when to make contact with the children each of us eventually found, many of whom were still minors. Some women who came to us were visibly unstable, either as a result of the surrender, the years of secret-keeping, the damage that does to one's psyche and self-esteem...or that in addition to other mental health issues. We were more able to assess a woman's need to take the time to work through her issues and needs, perhaps referring her to counseling, before entering into a relationship.
Of course, there were always some who came/searched/left and we never, or rarely, heard from them again. But, they were the exception, rather than the rule. For the most part, it was a warm, caring community of women helping women. We felt a very real sisterhood. Those of us who stayed with it did so to help others not feel alone. To help provide search referrals, and - perhaps most importantly - to work legislatively to open the sealed records. The more we did, the more we healed.
When the Internet arrived on the scene, I was at that time taking a hiatus from adoption work, and so for many years - out of touch with what was going on, no longer holding meetings or attending conference - I imagined that the world of adoption reform was now all electronically hooked up and connected and that this would expedite our work and connect more and people! It would be the boon to our movement that the article above describes. How wonderful, I thought, that now so many people would join our fight to open the sealed records!
I returned only to be stunned by the apathy and lack of growth that had ensued from 90's to the present. What the Internet had provided the world of adoption was faster and easier ways to buy and sell babies. Our movement seemed t have not benefited from this wonderous tool at all. Clearly membership in the national organizations (CUB, AAC, etc.) had dropped, or at best remaied stagnant, NOT increased as a result of world wide Internet exposure, as one would expect it to. Either they weren’t taking full advantage of this resource properly, or something else was wrong, or both.
The Internet, it seems allowed only for more of the find/search/leavers. Anyone, anywhere could sit at home and log on and be connected to someone who could - and would, for a price, of course - do their search. No counseling to see if the person was "ready" find and make contact with the other. No contact with others who had walked before her in her path to offer suggestions and help avoid pitfalls...just find 'em, and go to it!
Some searching birthparents and adoptees find one another on the Internet in chat rooms, boards, discussion groups and list serves. But I have found these to be more destructive and devisive than helpful, for the following reasons.
First, most of these online “support groups” or lists or whatever are “owned” and operated by self-appointed individuals. They have vague, at best, missions. Many of the list owners have just themselves come out of the closet and discovered that there is a way to search (though they are the same age as those of us who have been involved with all of this for decades). It’s the blind helping the blind with no hindsight to offer one another, and no effort made to refer people to long-standing groups and organizations.
Instead of learning the history of the movement – what worked and what didn’t – they seem intent on recreating the wheel and cutting themselves off from all existing adoption reform groups of the past.
Adding to this is the fact that many online lists seem to pigeonhole people into separate lists for those who have been reunited, those in good post-reunion relationships, those who have been rejected…and so on. By splintering off into these minute sub-groups, those they cut themselves off from seeing what can happen to any of them. Any reunion that is bad can turn and become "good” and vice versa. And, as we all know, anyone can die at any time.
But most importantly, from what I have observed and heard about many of the online “support groups” is that they are more of a cry-in-your-beer, woe-is-me fest. The only efforts for change I have seen come out of any of these groups formed over the past decade are:
- a strong resistance to being called birthmothers
- a resistance to calling adoptive parents, adoptive parents
- radical anti-adoptionism
Add to this FOURTEEN 9as of last count per http://www.ringsurf.com/netring?ring=birthmothers;action=list individual blogging birthmothers!
All of which appears to me to be an extension of the above stated encouragement of continued victimization rather than encouraging the empowerment.
First wave “old-time” birthmothers kept one another’s focus NOT on merely seeing the search for, or being found by, our children in terms of how it effected, or “healed” US. We saw it as an opportunity – a second chance – to give our children what we were unable to give them at the time of their birth. The search was about giving to them, at least as much as for what we got out of it. We recognized that there is, and always will be, a time and aplce to lick one'sd woulds and heal...but there are also meaningful ways to chanel one's anger and righteous indignation, our feelings of injustices done to us and our children, and adoptive parenst as well. As we helped nourish one another's personal growth, we also discovered the strength there was in our numbers. We allowed things to flow full circle: the personal becoming again political, as the politcal had impacted each uf personally.
As such, many of us were – and still are - far less interested in what we are called and more interested in helping our children as they grow into adults reestablish their rights. Putting aside our own egos, we are able to recognize and allow our children the freedom and right to establish a healthy bond with their psychological parents, rather than have them feel they are in the middle of a childish loyalty battle as to who to call what – like kids in the midst of a bad divorce!
We also see ourselves as part of a larger picture of adoption abuses that occur worldwide and has become a business, “surviving on the backs of resourceless women” as Ricki Solinger so eloquently put it recently. We feel empowered by helping to educate the public and to work to change the wrongs of an adoption industry that comodifies children rather than putting their needs first and protecting them as children – and their rights as they grow into adults.
I would like to begin here and now to reverse these negative trends. We do have the Internet and it is a very powerful tool. We need to grow up and concentrate on learning how to use it effectively to conenct people desiring to make legislative change. We need to follow the examples of other online libbying efforts, of which there are many examples.
Let us being to use the power of the Internet to open and humanize adoption. Please join me.
Thank you for bringing this to my attention. I will forward it. I do wish I knew who sent this email, or who wrote the post. These are issues that we've been concerned about in AAC and OARA and other groups for some time.
AAC NW Regional Director
Former President, OARA
[PS] ... I forwarded it to the AAC board. We're certainly concerned as we see the same trends, including dropping membership. At Oregon Adoptive Rights Association, we finally had to close the doors, which is very sad. But no one was coming to the meetings. Even in just how we work together, the Net has changed relationships and caused many misunderstandings.
and in person groups. The internet could be such a wonderful tool for
adoption reform and bringing people together in common cause, but instead
it seems to only isolate and factionalize them more.
Help!!! I tried to post this and could not get it on. Can you add it to the
When I got involved in adoptee rights in 1980 there was a very viable connection between the personal and the political. Adoptees and bparents understood the political connections--and "reunion" was not so much the goal as were rights.
Several things happened. The Reagan years for one, and now we have a entire generation of USians who have no idea either about what real social justice and change is about or how it can be obtained. Class consciousness is dead. And this extends way beyond adoption.
But I think more importantly, the real problem came with the hijacking of the movement by therapists and related do-gooders who told adoptees (and bparents, I'm assuming--since I'm not a bparent I don't know) that their "adoption issues" were their own personal problems. (a very USian cultural belief system--one that permeated The Great Depression which turned the screw up of business and government inward) The systemic rot of the adoption system was been denied and rejected in order to line the pockets of the theraputacy.
Until adopted persons, bparents and aparents re-take the politics of aggreievement, not much will change. It's out job to push buttons and develop a revolutionary consciousness.
I attended the NCFA conference last year, and let me tell you. They're scared. They actually think that adoption is on it's last legs in the US. Would I kid you? 2006 is the year we tip the dino into the tar pit (as I've been saying.) The enemy is ripe for over throwing.