I was sitting with a friend in a local café.
We sit every week and work together, batting ideas back and forth, catching up with each other’s news.
I mentioned I was working on the following editorial.
It is based on some statements made by those who see surrogacy as a way to fulfill a nationalistic prerogative of positive population growth.
This surrogacy, because of local law, often takes the form of gametes implanted in the wombs of Indian women who carry to term the “foreign” child.
That anyone might think that this kind of exploitation is valid morally or ethically is mind-boggling to me.
The only countries to have practiced such a thing as revealed by my research are fascistic in nature: Nazi Germany, Franco’s Spain, and Argentina under the Videla dictatorship.
The country I was referring to is mythologized as a paragon of democracy in a hostile realm.
The country I am referring to has one of the highest trafficking rates in the world today, as ranked by the U.S. State Department.
The country I am referring to makes frequent use of the term: “birthright”.
My friend is Palestinian and implicitly gets what I am trying to convey.
She also viscerally feels the import of what we are discussing.
We aren’t talking about a mere difference of opinion, or types of family creation, or concepts of adoption reform.
To do so accepts the status quo.
My friend said that what we are talking about is “return”.
Our fundamental “right to return”.
It’s quite simple.
An adoptee has the same relation to place as a refugee.
An adoptee has the same relation to place as an immigrant.
An adoptee has the same relation to place as a migrant worker.
An adoptee has the same disconnect from those who displaced her.
An adoptee has the same disconnect from those who actively dispossess, displace, traffic, gentrify, refugee, uproot, encamp, exile, expel, relocate, cleanse, exodus.
Her relation to place is radically different from parasitic invasion, or occupation.
Her relation to place is inherently different from dispossessive settling, or colonizing.
Unfortunately, she can choose to shift her relationship.
She can mimic those who displaced her in thought, in form, and in action.
There are words for this.
This is living on a razor’s edge.
On one side of this edge, such a one might be referred to as a “model”, or a “good example”; “well-spoken” and “articulate”.
All of these are veiled insults, by the way.
They make obfuscated reference to what has been stereotypically overcome in the otherwise “sub-human” individual.
It’s like the all-American question, “Where are you from?” which, translated, really means: “You’re not from here/of us.”
A statement, not a question.
This would be called an Orwellian inversion.
On the other side of this edge, the dispossessed and displaced have much in common, and much to be angry about.
The adoptee who walks this edge only shares an unwilled class acculturation with those who adopted him.
This is not a permanent condition.
In fact, the shedding of such class attribution foregrounds any actual possible change that might take place in this world.
So it is truly disturbing how much of the so-called progressive world accepts adoption as the status quo.
Including those who might know from discrimination, for example, same-sex couples who now see adoption and surrogacy as their “right”.
Including those who on some level survived the near-extermination of their People, yet who have taken on the tactics of their oppressors.
On the other hand, the dispossessed and those who displace them have nothing in common.
And so we also have the right to be angry when they act in unison.
When they speak in similar ways.
And share similar thoughts.
And ignore the power differential that in fact divides them.
I am tired of wasted time debating such people.
I no longer wish to hear adoptees vilify “illegal immigrants”.
I no longer wish to listen to adoptees curse the riots and rebellions they see as jeopardizing their lifestyle.
I no longer wish to be present when adoptees make classist and racist statements about Indigenous Peoples.
I no longer wish to be reminded of the current fascist zeitgeist of the places that acculturated us.
I no longer want to try and understand women who adopt and yet claim some kind of feminist worldview.
I no longer want to hear from those who for whatever reason are not able to procreate and somehow yet proclaim a “right” to children.
And then call this progressive.
This is too much to bear.
And there are words for such behavior, and they are not kind.
Personally speaking, from this moment forward, it is only when I am called “uppity”, or “out of line”, or am told that I need to “know my role”, or when I am accused of being “too extreme” that I will consider that I am on the right track.
And so the following example.
I sent this editorial to many media outlets, some of which consider themselves to be extremely radical, and all of which I have published with in the past.
Only one agreed to put it online.
It’s not the first time this has happened.
The attempts to quiet adoptees who resist the status quo form the strange leitmotif of the mediation of That Which Cannot Be Criticized.
This is hugely disturbing.
The tactics include the removal of years of history in the form of discussion posts.
The tactics include outright personal attacks against those working in the field.
The tactics include marginalization and slighting of radical voices.
These are the exact same tactics used against our birthplaces, our peoples, our cultures.
I understand that some people have a hard time fighting for justice when such a battle calls into question their access to power, or their class status, or their pocketbook potential.
This we might say sums up the history of activism.
I say this quite calmly.
I say this as a statement of historical fact and nothing more.
The status quo has weight, and precedence, and is a downhill stroll.
Especially for those at the top of the hill.
And good intentions pave the way to something only slightly worse than the Hell of this current realm.
I want to make one thing very clear.
I’m not preaching, or accusing, or judging; I am admitting that in the past I too was guilty of such behavior.
This was before my spatial relation to place, shall we say, radically changed.
This was before I found myself among a majority of people similarly displaced and dispossessed.
This was long before I could no longer so easily distance myself from them.
This was before I realized how similar our stories were.
One of the sites I sent this editorial to replied that it wasn’t “Palestinian” enough.
In light of what I have just explained, I’m not quite sure what that means.
One of the instigations for my article was a search phrase that led to our web site at Transracial Eyes [link].
It read: “Can a U.S. citizen adopt a child from Palestine.”
The use of the word “citizen” in a sentence with “Palestine” is offensive on any number of levels.
Beyond that, this is no idle statement.
This is a threat and a menace.
It’s all connected.
We are all Palestinians on some level [link].
In my conference presentation and now my paper for the Adoption Initiatives Conference [link] my focus was on the ways in which family and the construction of family mimics the needs of the nation-state.
I’m not the first one to speak of this, of course.
Frederick Engels comes to mind, obviously.
More recently, and focused on adoption, Kirsten Lovelock states:
It is misleading to conceptualize the needs and concerns of prospective parents as being somehow outside of or separate from the needs and concerns of the nation. Individuals who adopt from abroad do so within a particular domestic/international/political context. Their needs and desires are socially constructed and emerge out of the same domestic/international/political and economic context as the policies that formally address national needs and concerns.
In a work tangential to adoption, Christina Klein writes:
This representation of the Cold War as a sentimental project of family formation served a doubly hegemonic function. These families created an avenue through which Americans excluded from other discourses of nationhood could find ways to identify with the nation as it undertook its world-ordering projects of containing communism and expanding American influence
This particular notion forms the entire basis of the work of Emmanuel Todd, among others sociologists and human geographers.
I would only point out that these are not necessarily “radical” writings or expressions.
In that way we have of demeaning discourses by referring to them as “radical”.
In fact, even within the world of those who support adoption, such as from Elizabeth Bartholet, we read the following:
It can be viewed as the ultimate in the kind of exploitation inherent in every adoption, namely the taking by the rich and powerful of the children born to the poor and powerless. It tends to involve the adoption by the privileged classes in the industrialized nations of the children of the least privileged groups in the poorest nations, the adoption by whites of black- and brown-skinned children from various Third World nations, and the separation of children not only from their birthparents, but from their racial, cultural, and national communities as well.
So the refusal to publish words that discuss the logical conclusion of adoption as a societally destructive industry and mythologized trope of salvation is not an editorial fear, shall we say.
We are talking about an economic fear, a kind of complacence with the status quo, and a satisfaction with our place within it.
There will be no reform of adoption as long as we accept this.
For that matter, there can be no “reform” of adoption.
It’s like calling for the “reform” of slavery.
We are talking basic human rights.
Not the rights of those who have to have more.
I would like to preface the following editorial with a statement.
I would like to say that I am done walking the razor’s edge.
I am quite obviously leaning to one side.
And this beyond any previous notion of finding myself accepted in such a space.
I much prefer it, actually.
Those on this side suffer every kind of ignoble displacement and dispossession.
All of us intrinsically want to return.
To claim what is rightfully ours.
This is our birthright.
With us on this side of history is justice and truth.
Because those here are not given Voice does not mean they are without such a means of expression.
Their turn to speak is come.
And our turn to help them has arrived.
And there is a choice to make.
And there is no middle ground.
And now starts the era of Homecoming.