Then censorship reared its ugly head. Cassi is a first mother who writes about reform, ethics, and her personal experience at Adoption Truth. Her blog was in the competition and doing well. Until, without warning, it was removed from the voting list by Circle of Moms. In an email, the contest organizers told her they "had to remove [her] blog from the Top 25 Adoption Blogs by Moms competition. As described on the contest page, the Top 25 Adoption Blogs by Moms contest is open to 'mom bloggers who write about adoption or foster parenting in a supportive, positive way.'"
I've lurked on Cassi's blog for years. Her experience wasn't positive and she writes from that perspective. Why would anyone expect her to be "supportive" of adoption as it currently stands? She advocates for reform, cautions against the ethical pitfalls in domestic adoption, and writes frankly about how adoption affected her and her adult son. (As do others in the competition, but hers alone was singled out for removal.) Is her voice somehow not needed in the larger conversation about adoption because it is not "positive"?
I'd argue that voices like Cassi's are the most important, in many regards. Speaking for myself, they give me a view of adoption I do not get anywhere else--not in the mainstream media, not in the most popular adoption books, not in most of the training materials I've been given. It is the people who vulnerably and honestly share about the complexities of adoption--those often labeled "anti-adoption" or "negative--who have most influenced my views of adoption. More than just my views--they have influenced my practice of adoption, my choices as an adoptive parent, my relationships with my children. All for the better. And they are effecting change on a larger scale in terms of adoptee rights and the ethical adoption practices, too.
This is also a clear example of adoptive parent privilege at work (more on how I understand my privilege as both an adoptive parent and a non-adopted person here and here). If I, as an adoptive parent, had a difficult experience--if, say, one of my children's moms had decided to parent after all after initially placing her child with us or if I were struggling in a relationship with a first family member--and wrote about how awful I felt about adoption in that moment, I highly doubt I'd be labeled as "not positive and supportive" of adoption. In fact, I'd probably be given a lot of encouragement. If I support adoptees' birth certificate access or other reforms, I'm not dismissed.
I'm not saying adoptive parents should be silenced. Not at all. But we need to realize that often we are recognized and heard at the expense of others. First parents and adoptees/foster care alumni are held to a different standard--they are asked to do the impossible and somehow prove that they deserve to be listened to before certain people will listen to them. Because of the privilege at our backs, I think we as adoptive parents have an obligation to work to leave space for and draw attention to first parent and adoptee voices, especially those who expose adoption's complexities and dangers.
So, if you are interested, go to vote at Circle of Moms this year. You can vote once each day. But as you click I encourage to think about how you can draw attention to the voices who have to fight hardest to be heard.