Friday, November 10, 2006

America, The Land Of The Naive

We deal with all kinds of people when we enter the arena of adoption reform activism. There are the vicious (usually angry, threatened adopters and adoptees), the smug (self-righteous "experts" who think they represent reform), the judgmental and those that are just actively holding on to their denial and sense of entitlement. We counter the spin-doctors for the industry with the facts that we painstakingly gather, we appeal to the compassion of the self-entitled with our personal stories and we stand toe-to-toe with the vicious and we don't back down.

That leaves us with the clueless...the ones living in the dream world of media-induced warm fuzzies. These are the people who see every adoptable child as a curly-haired moppet, cast out into the storm, and adopters as the selfless saviors of that child. To them, the story ends with the adoption...Annie and Daddy Warbucks walk off into the sunset and everyone says.."Awwwwwwwwwwww." Mom is either dead or a self-sacrificing heroine or a total, abusive slut. That she might be "everywoman," worthwhile and decent and broken with grief, as the vast majority of us actually are, is a puzzler for the naive in the US.

These are the people who have never been put into the maelstrom of adoption. Oh, they might "know somebody," usually an adoptee, who seems just fine, thank you and then they'll go on to voice their worries about teen pregnancies, dumpster babies and crackwhore moms because that is what they see on TV and read about in the papers. I have noticed that, when I talk to someone like this about adoption, they seem shocked and almost unable to comprehend what I am saying. The idea that adoption could be anything but all warm and gooshy with heart-rending, positive emotion is so foreign to their social conditioning that I might as well be speaking to them in Klingon.

They all have their mental slide-show of what adoption is, and when we edit the frames, it's hard for them to take it all in. Some argue, some listen and some even try to learn more. But there is a lot of industry-driven conditioning of the American public out there. We, as a society, seem to be in some sort of national, self-centered childhood that allows many of us to just buy the package without really checking the quality of the product as long as we get what we want. We were taught lies in American History when we were growing up, and we are hard-put to think that our government or anyone else in authority or who proclaims themselves to be an "expert" or who drapes themselves in the mantle of religion or good, old conservative values might ever steer us wrong.

The naive, the clueless, the average person-on-the-street...they are all out of the adoption loop and only the ones with the big money and the mass media connections can reach them unless our campaign of revelation gets loud and vociferous. That's hard for a group of regular women, especially those of us from the BSE (Baby Scoop Era), to do because we were raised to be "nice and lady-like." Between working to gather our ovarian fortitude and dealing with Frozen Moms who are still in denial, we have our work cut out for us. But the Civil Rights Amendment didn't get passed because the African-American community was quiet and unassuming. They were non-violent, but they were also LOUD and FRANK and TO THE POINT.

To those moms who are ready to march, here's a suggestion. This month, the dreaded Adoption Awareness (BewareNess) Month is a chance to fire a volley and gain the attention of the naive (unaware) citizen. Some of us are thinking to run with the "National Strange and Mournful Day" idea (see previous post), observing it on the last day of the month claimed by the adoptionists..November 30th. If you're interested, watch this blog. There'll be more information to come. Happy November, America. Are you ready to learn something?


Unknown said...

I know, that is why I don't even talk to people in real life about adoption, I would end up hating everyone I know.

I remember before I called my mom the first time being afraid that she would hit me up for money for her drug habit (I mean of course she was a prostitute with a drug habit right? I was reaaally young)

But you know I didn't even care if she was a prostitute with a drug habit, I was just sad that I wouldn't have any money to give her.

But whaddya know? I was wrong in my assumptions. Although I am glad she is healthy and happy, I would love her however she was.

Anonymous said...

It's not only America that houses the clueless when it comes to adoption, I am often torn between wanting to make friends understand and needing to protect myself from their stupid comments.

I am going to channel my creative energies into explaining how adoption has been for me and how that differs from the way the media portrays mothers like me (like us). Being creative also helps me to heal and I hope will make some people question the assumptions they have about adoption loss.

Unknown said...

There is so much to do and so many people to educate. I love the idea of the Strange and Mournful Day, and have my ribbons ready! I have sent one to my son, and I will be wearing it to demonstrate my mourning of the time we lost together, the loss of the people we were born to be, and the underlying sadness I have felt for my entire life. Thank you, Robin, for showing that it is possible to SOMETHING rather than just sit on our hands...