“A body needs at least three points of support, not in a straight line, to fix its position, so Roithamer had written.” —Thomas Bernhard, Correction
Whenever I hear the term “triad” to describe adoption, I am awed by how great and willful a misrepresentation it is.
By this I mean to say that the equation implied by the term “triad” is skewed for very particular reasons.
It might be helpful to break down this equation as it were.
As a starting point, let’s note down all-inclusively those effected, in varying degrees, by adoption.
In one grouping, you have: Adoptee. Mother. Parents. Extended family. Greater community. Culture of origin. Nation/state/class of source.
In another you have: Adoptive parents. Nuclear family. Adoptive culture. Nation/state/class of adoption.
Two “sides” in no way make up a three-pointed “equilateral” structure.
Most importantly, the former, in terms of action, are “intransitive”, meaning, they are functionally objects of an action.
The latter are “transitive”, meaning, they are active subjects.
The tools of agency in terms of action and power—legal, medical, governmental, cultural, media-based, and religious—are completely different one side from the other.
One side experiences loss, the other side nonesuch.
In fact, one side serves the other.
And so the terms used to describe adoption, such as “constellation”, “mosaic”, and “triad” are hugely reductive.
Either they are reductive in terms of scope (triad), or else they are reductive in terms of effect and agency (constellation, mosaic).
They are furthermore reductive in terms of effective “distance”, as well as positioning in relational “space”.
For example, in adoption-speak, these terms are often employed to categorize those involved as “touched” by adoption.
To note is that “to touch” is a transitive verb.
Just like “to adopt”.
Both imply a non-mutual reduction of distance between subject and object.
We should compare and contrast this to the verb “to birth”, also a transitive verb, but one that inherently implies a connection, a “mutual non-distance” if you will, between the transitive and intransitive “actors” involved.
The conflation of these terms leads to conceptually obscene metaphors such as “paper pregnancy”, “post-adoption depression”, and other lurid comparisons between adoption and childbirth.
As noted, this is a deceitful attempt to reduce “distance” between the agentive and the objective.
As stated, this is an attempt to falsely equalize those involved in the adoption process.
Such an attempt is patently offensive.
This attempted equalization cannot be defined as objective, nor is it naive.
We also cannot assume it to just “be”, or to be “destiny”, or to be outside of agentive “will”.
There is subjectivity involved, as well as motive, whether acknowledged or not.
As a tangent, we might discuss “murder” versus “involuntary manslaughter”.
We might speak of motive, and will, intent, and purpose.
We are basically discussing degrees of difference.
In neither case would we deny the crime committed.
The only cases in which the crime is denied is in terms of capital punishment, or extrajudicial killings.
In these cases, great lengths are gone to in an effort to redefine, mythologize, and render palatable the crime.
There is also a great effort to “share the burden” as it were, by spreading the culpability, or by wholly blaming the victim.
We might call this a “false expansion/distillation of agency”.
I don’t see any other category or status for adoption.
We can compare it to other attempts within the culture to “welcome in” and “include” which employ terms such as “mosaic”, or “rainbow”, or “big tent”.
This superficial “equalization” is readily confused with the notion of inherent “equality”.
It is seen as “giving voice” to those without.
This is obviously deceptive.
We are thus the “direct objects” of a falsely inclusive action.
The falsity thereof is easily demonstrated.
Those whom we refer to as being “in the fog”, or “drinking the Kool-Aid”, or otherwise “colonized” are welcomed into the adoption discussion with open arms.
This is a given.
To note is that when we attempt to empower ourselves, and truly regain our agency, we are likewise just as readily “welcomed back” into the “discussion” by the use of these terms of “inclusion”.
This should give us great pause.
This is evidently manipulative.
It might help to find a proper analogy to compare this situation to.
For one example, we wouldn’t readily refer to a bank CEO, a bank manager, and a bank account holder as being members of a “triad”, much less a “mosaic”, or a “constellation”, etc.
The “actions” and “direct objects” involved in bank transactions are different for each of these banking “agents”.
Furthermore, there is an implicit understanding of the power differential involved, whether stated or not.
Unless we were hoping to obfuscate this differential, any such equalization is therefore seen as ludicrous.
Pushing the point, the account holder is, herself, a “direct object” of the first; her account a “direct object” of the second; her money a “direct object” of all three.
Yet she’s made to believe she is in charge of this situation.
In terms of agency, if a bank CEO referred to her as being “equal” to him, he would surely be taken to task for such a statement.
In terms of agency, if an account holder demanded “equality” of the bank CEO, she would quickly be put in her place.
In all of their communication, this power differential would be maintained.
I don’t see any other way to honestly describe adoption.
All the same, an attempt to create a perceived equalization is useful, but only to those in power.
For example, banking advertising works along lines of false power equalization.
This equalization attempts to mythologize the agency of the one lowest in the power structure.
Banks “serve” their customers, for one such myth.
The one so coerced into believing her equality might then pay less notice to what is taken from her.
For example, fees, penalties, the imbalance of low interest rates, her entire retirement savings in a bad investment, her house in a foreclosure.
She might similarly be contented with what is given to her.
For example, “free” checking, “gifts” for opening accounts, higher interest.
She might furthermore describe her transactions with the bank as a “relationship”, and her relationship as being one of “love/hate”.
Such a description, unfortunately, does nothing to challenge much less change the power differential we are alluding to.
Finally, she would be hard-pressed to imagine the bank as not directly tied to her reality.
And so it can be seen that this false sense of agency, in terms of the system of banking (or adoption), is only useful to certain members of this so-called “triad”.
The desire to impose such an “equality” on the discussion thus serves very particular purposes.
The need to state this reality as a given reveals very particular intentions.
Given an awareness of this, we can readily state that what we are talking about is a willfully imposed disequilibrium.
This disequilibrium is, contrary to how it is portrayed, designed to undo voice, and silence those affected by adoption, by falsely “welcoming” them into the status quo, by cajoling them, coercing them, placating them, rendering them docile.
This disequilibrium, which demands “respect” for the very concept of the imposed triad (now treated as a given), inherently undoes any protest, resistance, or voicing out against adoption.
This disequilibrium is thus a tactical move of the dominant culture to silence, repress, and render powerless.
This is in sharp contrast to proper notions of consensus, non-hierarchical communication, and restorative justice.
Such outside-the-system notions would allow for the “intransitives” to be heard until such a time as their voices balance out the “transitive” status quo.
The equivalent concept in terms of banking might be a credit union, or a group of immigrants pooling money on a monthly basis, or a community chest.
This is a completely different “equation”, and it is equally telling that it is not offered as an option by those in power.
And so we should not be seduced or cajoled by vows to “listen” and “hear us out” and “place us at their table” and “welcome us into their halls”.
This is tactically designed to divide us internally as we choose “sides”, and to keep us in our place, no matter which “side” we choose.
This could be referred to as the history of all activist movements.
In this light, and returning to the subject at hand, any attempt to establish as a given the terms “triad” or “constellation” or “mosaic” should be considered suspect.
Along these same lines, the media we use to communicate—with an audience of few and controlled by fewer—should equally be considered suspect.
There is a world outside of this so-called “triad” that we are not reaching via this type of communication.
A discussion amongst ourselves is but a starting point; it should not devolve into an ending point.
And therefore yet another reduction.
We are not reducible to geometric shapes of one or two dimensions.
We are at the bottom of a pyramid of power dynamics.
Those at the top, looking down and ignoring their weight, see a “triangle” that they wish to impose upon us from above.
Those on the bottom, looking up, see but a faint point in the distance, yet they feel the weight of the oppressive structure pushing down.
This point should be our focus, in terms of undoing the power dynamics that would keep us down.
Those around us and below us should be our focus, in terms of incorporating those who are equally suppressed.
Not buying into an imposed vocabulary is just the start of this process.
There can be no discussion until the playing field is even.
I would like to suggest that we change directions.
We should be talking from our level down.
The above list of “intransitives” within the adoption process are, in essence, targets.
And much of our discussion focuses on the “post-targeting”; meaning post-adoption.
I would like to suggest that we switch the parameters around.
So that the transitive and the intransitive switch sides.
I mean this in terms of discussion, and action, and empowerment.
I mean this in terms of moving from the virtual to the actual.
I mean this in terms of moving from the online realm to our lived realm.
If we are truly seeking equilibrium of discourse, and equality of all involved, there is no other choice.
To ask ourselves: Where is our energy best placed?
Spinning our wheels endlessly discussing moot points in false “triads” on ephemeral platforms designed to tire us out and wear us down?
Or engaged in mind, body, and spirit with those who need us and whom we need most?
To simply “deconstruct” or actually be constructive?
Many have already come to this realization and are making this radical shift.
I applaud their efforts, and hope to see more of this type of action.
It is time for all of us to join this effort.
The first step is to pointedly remove ourselves from the notion of “triad”.
To notice the oppressive body whose very existence is based on our position.
To see the body whose place above relies on our location below.
Our active movement upsets this unequal positioning.
Only thus might we remove physical support from that which keeps us down.