You may find yourself wondering what the hell I'm talking about. Why did I make this sudden departure from my normal style of writing? What on Earth do my book shelves have to do with adoption? The answer is only one thing; they allow me to illustrate a point.
It is common among adoption related bloggers to fall into one of two camps:
1) Adoptive Parents
I don't have anything against adoptive parent bloggers. In fact I love the chance I had to learn more about adoption by reading the stories of these families as I first encountered the idea of open adoption. There is, however, a noticeable divide in the style of authorship between the aforementioned groups. (Please prepare yourself for some broad generalizations. These are made will full awareness that they are such, and have significant exceptions. For the sake of simplicity of thought and syntax I'll leave all the caveats here) A unique culture has developed around adoption related blogging. As with any culture it has its own customs and social mores. Among these are what subjects are acceptable for writers of different backgrounds to address.
So far it seems to me that adoptive parents are given license to discuss all aspects of their lives except those that may make casual readers squeamish. Discussing infertility, the difficulty in connecting with first families, grief of lost possibility (to be discussed at greater length later), and especially anything related to anger, resent, or failure is strictly off limits for regular discussion. I don't doubt for an instant there are other aspects of experience that are missing from that list. Unfortunately my bias is limiting my understanding to the aforementioned topics.
First parents appear to be cast in an opposite role, with two subsections and an uncomfortable grey area. First parents are expected to write only about adoption. Their lives beyond the placement of their children is taboo. We don't want to know. It's uncomfortable to think about how dis/similar the first parent is to the casual reader. The birth parent is given the opportunity to speak of pain, grief, anguish, loss, and resent. All the negative aspects of human experience are covered here. Aristotle would be proud. But then there are the subsections. Happy first parents versus unhappy first parents. The chasm between these two groups is nigh unbridgeable. Fortunately that doesn't keep everyone from trying. Unfortunately the aspects of the adoption experience highlighted by these two groups directly affects their esteem. Put briefly, the happy birth parent discusses adoption as a difficult but wonderful thing. The unhappy birth parent describes adoption as a difficult, often horrible, victimizing, arrogant and/or naive course. Again, these are very broad generalizations, but if you can bear with it I promise I'll get to the point soon. The happy birth parent is expected to say nothing negative about the adoptive family. The unhappy first parent is expected to have nothing positive to say about the adoption process. They're all angels, or it's all evil. That's very limiting for such an impact-full and emotionally complex experience. There are a few who speak to the middle experience, but often they are ostracized for failure to adhere to one role of the other.
Then we look at Adoptee writers, who likely have the most limited role of all in the online adoption discussion. I honestly feel terrible about how little voice adoptees have been given in the way we talk and think about adoption. Rather than being given, I think it may be fairer to say adoptees have had their voice ignored and censored. Therefore it makes some sense that the anticipated response from adoptees is one of rage, intense loss, and abandonment. There are adoptee writers speaking about the positive aspects of their placement, but they are difficult to find. (In truth, this is the experience about which I know the least. I admit that is in large part because I have found few adoptees online I can relate to in a manner I find mutually honoring. I say this not to villify, but to allow my bias to be known. It isnt' right, and I'm trying. Please try to be patient with me)
Why is any of this worth mentioning? Look at the subscribed readership of adoptive family, first parent, and adoptee blogs. The numbers overwhelming indicate who the public wants to support and is willing to think about. Adoptive parents are clearly taking the majority, often by a full degree of magnitude. But then again, can we blame the public? After all, would Wordless Wednesday be so appealing if we didn't have pictures like this to enjoy?
What would we see if first parents started participating in Wordless Wednesday, while remaining true to their prescribed role?
It's a far less appealing idea. Few, if any, of us would willingly seek an opportunity to pry into such moments. But what about adoptees discussing the pain they experience?
So clearly we're looking for something that makes us feel good when we read adoptive parent blogs, not truth. We're looking to feel sensitive and enlightened when we read first parent blogs. And we're probably looking to feel morally indignant and righteous when we read adoptee blogs.
But if the reader is willing to be honest with her/himself and allow the full experience of the writer to be only and exactly what it is, then we can start a real conversation. That's what this is about; coloring outside the lines. Adoptees can be happy. Adoptive parents can be pissed off and exasperated. First parents can be well put together and brilliant cooks. Shocking, but true. Stay tuned for a sweet potato muffin recipe.