Saturday, May 20, 2006
Evelyn Robinson speaks on word usage...
I have been corresponding with Evelyn about our struggles here and this is what she replied:
"I'm delighted to hear that you feel that my work is so generally respected in the US. Yes, I'm happy for you to post my comments, as long as it's clear that they are general comments and not intended to apply to any particular, person, group or country for that matter.
"With regard to the term 'birthmother', the situation in Australia is similar to that in the US, in that there are some groups who place a great deal of emphasis on terminology, while I believe that there are other much more important factors. I agree that language is powerful but we are only talking about words after all. And you're right, of course, that adoptions take place and have taken place regardless of the terms used. Having said that, I have never felt comfortable with the term and have never used it. However, I accept that there are some mothers who are willing to be called by that name. Sadly mothers who have lost children to adoption and have been marginalised by society in general are now being marginalised by other mothers, because of those choices. Mothers have become very much a divided camp, which is sad as, of course, it dilutes our power. In Australia, 'natural mother' is probably accepted by most (although not all), 'mothers who lost children to adoption', is fairly common and 'mothers' can be distinguished from 'adoptive mothers'.
In a subsequent email she elaborted further:
"I was reading an article recently about schoolyard bullying and how bullying by girls takes a different form from bullying by boys. Girls tend to use rumour, gossip and exclusion ie you're not part of our gang any more. Unfortunately, I've seen such behaviour in support groups for mothers - seems some of them have not given up the bullying tactics they learned in the schoolyard - how sad.
"I think things have to be seen in their historical context. If it hadn't been for the brave parents years back who were prepared to go public about their experiences and who banded together to support each other, who knows where we'd be now. This is a quote from the question and answer section of my second book:
"There seems to be some conflict and rivalry among support groups for mothers who have lost children through adoption. I expected that mothers would support each other and work together and I have been disappointed to find that group members sometimes criticise and insult each other. Why do you think this happens?
I think that these unfortunate rivalries often occur because of jealousy and the desire for power and control. Unfortunately some mothers who were bullied into giving up their children for adoption have learned to become bullies themselves. Other mothers learned from their experience to be compliant and submissive and so they do not challenge this behaviour when it occurs in their groups. In this way insulting and bullying can become acceptable behaviour and this means that some groups take a very negative direction. Those groups generally do not survive, unless members are able to recognise what has happened and take steps to repair the damage. Ideally, group members will learn to be confident and considerate and to work together towards the same goals of supporting and educating each other and increasing community awareness of adoption issues. Support groups can be very productive, but if the members are not vigilant, they can become destructive."
I am in 100% totaly agreement with Evelyn, and call for PATIENCE. Change does not happen overnight. I also ask that ALL of us concentrate on the second highlighted statement Evelyn makes: that we diliute pur power whe we spend our time and energies arguing over this one difference in semantics instead of focusing on what is so much more important. We need to focus on our common goals and work together toward them!!!
In Peace, Solidarity and Sisterhood,