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.
Presentations, panels, and performances….
Working with the committee, I was very excited to see the range and scope of proposals, as well as the quantity. Myself, I will be presenting a paper based on Frantz Fanon’s conception of the “colonized mind”, and how this might relate to adoptees. The abstract reads as follows:
This paper explores adoptee activism along lines proposed by Frantz Fanon in his canonical work: The Wretched of the Earth, published in 1963. It applies Fanon’s analysis of the “colonized mind” and the steps toward revolution described in an effort to establish a framework for valid activist praxis.
Frantz Fanon’s The Wretched of the Earth was published at the height of the Algerian War. Fanon’s text provides a framework for liberation from colonial subjugation, and it describes the psychological and physical trauma inflicted by a foreign power upon a dominated populace. It elucidates the role of the “native intellectual”, the indigen who identifies with his colonizers. Fanon uses a striking passage to enlighten us concerning the makeup of those who acknowledge, accept, and assume the voice and narrative of the dominant culture. He compares the colonized to adopted children who accept their fate when “a minimum nucleus of security crystallizes in their psyche”.
Here Fanon makes an elliptical reference that merits expansion. Adoptees also traverse the phases of being “colonized”: coddled by the safety of their new-found place, seduced by the mythology of a dominant culture, and abetted by the distanced memory of their past. Fanon thus defined what is referred to within adoptee circles as “the fog”, or “drinking the Kool-Aid”: the acceptance of a fragile notion of security sustained by a false sense of self within alien and alienating environments.
Given that adoption, like colonial oppression, is a function of a power differential determined by particular economic and political realities, Fanon’s guide to liberation can equally be applied to the condition of the adopted child, subjugated both physically and psychologically within a foreign realm. As adoptees come to realize that their “minimum nucleus of security” is highly questionable not just within the family but also within the world at large, the current normalizing analysis of the adoptee condition becomes an increasingly dubitable endeavor, especially when employing the tools, language, methods, and modes of the “colonial” system that engenders adoption in the first place. This paper will explore ways out of this impasse.
As always, apologies for the academic language. I look forward to a fruitful and productive conference, as well as meeting up with fellow adoption activists!