April 11, 2012

Who Deserves to Be Heard

The annual Circle of Moms page view grab competition for Top Adoption and Foster Care Mom Blogs has started up. I was nominated (thank you to whoever honored me that way), but don't worry, I won't be begging for your daily votes again this year. As fun as it was to see my name on the list in 2011, there were no real benefits as far as traffic over the year, so I wasn't going to bother writing about the game in 2012.

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.

24 comments:

meghann said...

Thank you for writing about this. I e-mailed Circle of Moms yesterday because I'm disgusted by their actions. I'm glad you're drawing more attention to it as well. xo

Laurie said...

Great post. Thanks for writing it.

Catherine/Mama C said...

You are such a fierce role model. I too declined the invitation to participate based on my anonymous "nomination" for all the reasons you cited exactly. I did not know anything about the Adoption Truth piece. I did recall last year that similar concerns emerged for people in the larger community about who was on the list and who wasn't. So, thank you for drawing attention to this example of inequity and censorship in the internet version of the triad. Perhaps the folks at COM will reconsider their choice, and become part of the "everyone is allowed their truth" telling opportunity network too.

Cassi said...

I just want to say thank you for this! I do appreciate it so much!

Amanda said...

This post is epic. You have no idea how much this means to me. Thank you!

Anonymous said...

Even though I'm not adopted, am not a first mother or am parenting an adopted child I read your your blog. Why? You're very honest and open minded and make me consider choices that could have been mine - there but for fortune...
Thank you.

Todd said...

Amen, Sister.

Nikki said...

As adoptive mom AND adoptee, I appreciate this post very much!

letterstomsfeverfew said...

Thank you. Actually, that does not even begin to describe the depth of gratitude I have.

You said, "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."

So very true.

MommySquared said...

I am not a member of Circle of Moms so didn't know about this event, thank you for sharing and bringing it to light. It is very important to hear all sides whether we like what we hear or not. I too, am a mom thru adoption and read blogs from all perspectives and with each story I learn more that gives me perspective on how I am raising my family and interacting with the world around me. Thank you for bringing this story to light ...

anotherversionofmother.com said...

I know we sort of touched on this last night, but when the adoptive parent privilege changes, and the shift looks at what adoption can do when negative practices are at work, and the silencing it gives into, we'll finally make strides.

You rock in so many ways, really!

Linda said...

Thank you .

KiraPerdue said...

EXCELLENTLY written and very insightful! Thank you. Shame on Circle of Moms. And, Cassi, you keep doing what you do, giving voice to all aspects of adoption. (adoptive mom of 2 in open relationships)

iAdoptee said...

Wow. Just wow. I must admit to feeling very emotional after reading your encouraging and supportive words. So often, it does feel as though adult adoptees and first mothers have to prove ourselves worthy of being heard. I'm so inspired knowing that there are adoptive moms out there who want to share in our experiences so that perhaps we can all work together to effect positive change. Thank you!

WP said...

Such an encouraging post Heather. I'm just disgusted by the Circle of Moms decision to remove Cassi's blog, and once again saddened that so many people are unwilling to look critically at adoption. Your post is appreciated!

SustainableFamilies said...

Yeah after three years of having a blog in which I rarely got any comments from anyone other than fellow first mothers/adoptees--- or from angry hurtful people telling me to shut up and get over MY CHOICE and I SPREAD MY LEGS blah blah blah--- I am weary. I am tired. No one cares. I get it. I am in pain. I did not deserve to lose my daughter. We do NOT have adequate resources in place to empower, support, mentor, and encourage young and struggling mothers. We do not have supportive empowering resources for mothers with disabilities. We are messing things up when there are a lot of things we REALLY COULD do differently, if people with power and money cared. I beg them to care but they want me to shut up so they can justify not changing. Please hear us. Please be part of the voice for change. Many of us wanted our children and we needed strong women to believe in us and help us be good mothers, and help us grow and access the internal and external resources we needed.

I am also an adoptee and I am NOT ok with using my mother to get a baby and leaving her in suffering. She dreamed of a place she could stay, like the Gladney maternity home she was in-- BUT THAT WOULD HELP HER PARENT. She dreamed. And I carry that dream. And I dreamed it too. I will continue to hope until it happens or I die still hoping this world will change. And I will do anything I have inside me to make it happen.

Momma C said...

beautiful post- you said what I wanted to say but a million times more eleoquently

Carlynne Hershberger, CPSA said...

A big thank you from this natural mother!

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for employing the privilege you speak of to educate others. Some won't risk it. It's voices like yours that will make for true "positive" change.

Susan P. said...

A big thank you from an older adoptee who has been working for an adult adoptee rights bill in New Jersey for the past ten years. In politics, the adoptee voice tends to be even more silenced at times. My hope is that more a-parents will join these state-by-state movements. We all need to work together to make adoption better! Please see my post over at my new blog Family Ties, nanadays.blogspot.com. It's called Adoption,
Anger and Denial, and I'm hoping to get my writing out into Adoptionland as well. To me, your voice is so appreciated because in the political arena, I rarely see adoptive parents advocating for change. Many don't realize how disempowering it is to have no right to your own personal story. Thanks again for a great post!

Barbara Thavis said...

Thanks for caring enough to support an adoption reformer. We all have a story to share and it's shameful when censorship is abused.
You're a class act, Heather!

harriet glynn said...

Hey I finally re-found your blog. Hurray! That's really a terrible story. I hope as time progresses, the lines that divide the mothers and fathers and children of adoption will blur so that we aren't so certain about who belongs in which category... If that makes any sense!

Carrie said...

Thank you for this post, for recognizing your adoptive parent privilege and for using your voice to strengthen viewpoints that differ from your own, but round out everyone's understanding of adoption.

Thank you!

A.Murphy said...

I enjoyed reading your post and agree that there are many voices in the world of adoption that need attention. As a birthfather, (who was unaware of an adoption that took place until just recently) I am now focused on trying to help erase the bad rap that is cast upon the birthfather circle.

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