Adopted: Dispossessed, displaced, disinherited.

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.”

I’ve been thinking about how to round out these terms to answer such concerns and to be more inclusive. Then today on Twitter I saw a post from Catana Tully [link], author of the book Split at the Root [link] and she says:

Under layers of privilege, I discovered that my most important story is one of disinheritance.

It’s a powerful statement to make, and a powerful term, evoking the legal notion of “inheritance”, as well as a shared root with “heritage” and “heredity”. But it also carries a secondary meaning: “deprived of natural or human rights”. It shifts the focus from those “gaining” to those “losing”, as well as the burden of “happy/content adoptees” to acknowledge their origins, familial, social, and cultural.

By this I don’t wish to imply that adoptees be forced to reconcile with the often unpleasant circumstances of their familial situation prior to adoption. I mean simply to shift away from the clinical and personal to what are social and societal forces at work, economic and political, which can be described historically speaking.

Along these lines, the term resonated immediately with me the book by Fawaz Turki, about his exile from Palestine, called: The Disinherited [link]. Another of Turki’s works is entitled: The Soul in Exile.

Such that we might say that as adoptees, we are “among the displaced, dispossessed, disinherited”.

Disturbingly, if you do a search on “adoption” and “disinherited”, you will find that the question of disinheriting adopted children legally speaking seems to be about as much a “current affair” as that of “rehoming” and “disrupting”.

To which I would reply: “Too late. We already are.”

I’m sure it has been used within the adoption discourse; any citations and references are very much welcomed.


About Daniel Drennan ElAwar

Adoptee, rematriated.
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2 Responses to Adopted: Dispossessed, displaced, disinherited.

  1. In a discussion with mothers about the heinous verbs applied to them—place, give up, relinquish, etc.—it occurred to me that they can equally say “I was disinherited [of my child].”

    • blackout says:

      Thank you for your validation. I so deeply admire your honest, raw and thought provoking posts, I have been following for about a year now. So much of what you tweet, and write about is pure adoption truth gold. Thank you.

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