Two years ago I presented at the Adoption Initiative Conference and I was blown away by the energy and force of those attending and presenting. I’m happy to now be on the Conference Committee, and am looking forward to next year’s event—I hope many of those who read here might consider attending. Registration is now open.
This article is posted following a vote in the French National Assembly officially recognizing the deportation of children from Reunion, a French overseas département. The original article, Enfants de la Creuse. Devoir de mémoire tardif au Parlement, appears today in the French daily newspaper, L’Humanité [link]. Hasty translation is mine. To note is that resistance to these deportations was quite active, as illustrated below.
Note: I usually avoid the putting forth of “proper” terminology because, like much discursive analysis, there is no taking into consideration context, register, tone, etc. I would never actively reduce or take away terms from the language; but I do think it is valid to suggest empowering alternatives, or to linguistically examine current usage.
In the comments section of the recent item on adoption activism [link] we were discussing the terms “dispossessed and displaced” and Rebecca [link] expressed a concern that it might not apply to all adoptees; that it wasn’t a good fit. There did seem to be agreement on a definition: “the leveraging of children from those who have in order to provide them to those who don’t, based on differences either political, economic, or both.”
In a blog post by Rebecca Hawkes at “Sea Glass and Other Fragments” [link], I have been referred to as a “burnt-out activist adoptee”, seemingly by virtue of my own words. I think this discussion of those who speak as compared to those who remain silent is a great one. Nonetheless, I felt the need to post a response (as I often do), and it has grown into a much longer reply (as it often does), and so I am posting it here with the hope that it might raise discussion, and I thank Rebecca for acknowledging my statement, and for bringing up the issue. I also apologize for straying a bit from the original topic, again, as I am wont to do, but I think there are tangential points which need be brought forward.
Adoption “activists” are lauding an adoptee, Julia Marino, for representing her “birth country” of Paraguay in the Olympics. I find myself at a loss to describe the extent of the inversion of such support, given the birth of the Olympics in neo-liberal fascism, and their use historically speaking to displace marginal and lower-class populations, their representation of the individual above the community, their criminal nationalism.
It is disturbing that all of the social and economic inequality that led to our very adoptions might be celebrated by adoptees, in this, its formalized and super-mediated form. To further note is that our “birth countries” love our “return” only when it fits into their own comprador espousing of such economic and political policies. Adoptees are “welcomed back”, but only as long as we are investors; [conservative] voters in local elections; teachers within elitist educational systems; “claims to fame” used to jingoistic or nationalistic purpose. Should this not give us pause?
“Fear in Western Europe”.*
With each post I make, I promise myself: “This is the last one for awhile”.
So, perhaps this will be the last.
I’d love more than anything to no longer write on the subject.
But unfortunately it doesn’t really seem to be up to me.
The recent comment that I received here on the blog reminded me of this response that originally appeared at the Dissident Voice web site in reply to the first article I wrote about adoption, which was also published (in Arabic) in the local press. I’m bringing it back up because it is rather mind-boggling the lengths to which those who support adoption will go to make this purely and only personal. By this I mean to say purely personal about them, and purely personal about us as individual adoptees, and this despite any framing of adoption outside of these parameters. That the above comment managed to disregard this entire web site literally floors me.
This is hugely insulting on many levels. It wraps up everything of the adoptive-class mentality in one gobsmack: “know your role”, “be grateful”, “we saved you”. And yet, at the same time, it doesn’t even have the respect to rise in turn to the “great gift” (from them) that supposedly was our education, or our eloquence, our ability to speak English, dare I say it (again, which we are to be grateful for). Furthermore, it dares to suggest that we should just “get over it”; that we should, in a logical contradiction of epic proportions, deny the very act that the adopter esteems above and beyond any other act of charity or beneficence. Should we deny our adoption via frameworks that are not based in the personal, we are taken to task. In being so taken to task, we are told to deny our adoption. It is like wrestling with a black hole of narcissism, selfishness, and willful ignorance. I know this will fall on deaf ears, but for the record, here is that reply I posted so many years ago, unfortunately still just as necessary to state out loud today.
I was honored to be asked to provide the introduction to an anthology of writing concerning adoption reunion: Adoption Reunion in the Social Media Age, an Anthology, edited by Laura Dennis. The compendium of recountings speaks to the testimony each of us gives to adoption experience, and in the greater expanse, a historic witnessing as to what the legacy of adoption practice will have been, once all is said and done. Summing up from the announcement of the book’s release:
This anthology gives voice to the wide experiences of adoptees and those who love them; examining the emotional, psychological and logistical effects of adoption reunion. Primarily adult adoptee voices, we also hear from adoptive parents, first moms and mental health professionals, all weighing in on their experience with reunion. The stories run the gamut, and I think even non-adopted people are likely to find something in here to which they can relate. The memories of adoption reunion in this anthology are joyous and regretful; nostalgic and fresh; angry and accepting. They show pain, but they also tell of resilience and strength in the face of incredible loss.
This post is taken from one that originally went up at Transracial Eyes; at the time I promised to expand on it publicly, so finally this is seeing the light of day. The question there from a fellow adoptee asks what we hope to accomplish with our activism; “What do you support?” I’m glad it came from another adoptee, although I answered it as if it came from someone from the adoptive class. In that vein, it usually is expressed as: “And what are you doing to change things?” Yet again, an accusation of ingratitude, and a reminder of our “place” and “role”.
Hidden in this accusation though is the snide sentiment of “you are all talk and no action”; “you talk the talk but don’t walk the walk”—it further implies that there is no equivalent in this regard to the actual act of adoption itself. This in turn masks a reminder of the class level we often leapfrogged to via our adoption. In other words, we are being told “do not be a class traitor”. What follows is my answer—how, in fact, to be a class traitor—greatly expanded, which focuses on the attempt to move from such “talking to walking”. I think this rounds out nicely the previous two posts on activism. I hope they are helpful in some way.
Posted in Adoption resistance
Tagged activism, adoption, adoptive parents, class traitor, community, Frantz Fanon, Individualism, international adoption, Lebanon, nuclear family, power differential, rights of children, trafficking, trauma