I read several blogs by members of the adoption triad. Some by adoptive parents, some by birthmothers, and some by adult adoptees. Some are by people that I usually agree with their perspectives, and some are not. All of them give me a lot to think about. It has been awhile since I threw myself into the fray, although there have been several topics that I have wanted to address, but never gotten around to them. A few of them have popped up on various blogs over the past week or so and, since they all kind of go together in my brain, I’m going to attempt to pull a coherent thought or two out of my currently sleep-deprived brain.
Most of what I have falls under one main theme–something that was a theme in the life of Walt Disney. It is expressed in what, I believe, is one of the greatest movies scenes ever. Yep, that’s right, I’m going to start a discussion about adoption with a clip from (gasp!) Meet the Robinsons:
OK, I guess that maybe there are two themes in there that really speak to me, but the overriding one is “Keep moving forward.” My thoughts, as they apply to this theme (and, I suppose, the other main one–personal responsibility), center around three main topics: bias, corruption, and venting.
With that said, lets start with the National Counsil for Adoption (NCFA). Much is being made of their recently released 4th edition of their Adoption Factbook. I have no intention of commenting on the specifics contained in that book. The simple fact is, I can’t. While I have perused the table of contents (and haven’t seen anything that looks overtly offensive, but do see some topics that look interesting), I have not read the book. And I’m not just going to pick and choose sections, then make judgements based on limited information. I’ve done enough research in my life to know better than to pull information out of its context–it’s easy to get yourself in trouble that way.
What I am going to comment on is the accusations of bias and insinuations of corruption against the NCFA and the adoption agencies that support it. Let’s start with some definitions, compliments of Merriam Webster.
1: a line diagonal to the grain of a fabric; especially : a line at a 45 degree angle to the selvage often utilized in the cutting of garments for smoother fit2 a: a peculiarity in the shape of a bowl that causes it to swerve when rolled on the green in lawn bowling b: the tendency of a bowl to swerve; also : the impulse causing this tendency c: the swerve of the bowl3 a: bent, tendency b: an inclination of temperament or outlook; especially : a personal and sometimes unreasoned judgment : prejudice c: an instance of such prejudice d (1): deviation of the expected value of a statistical estimate from the quantity it estimates (2): systematic error introduced into sampling or testing by selecting or encouraging one outcome or answer over others4 a: a voltage applied to a device (as a transistor control electrode) to establish a reference level for operation b: a high-frequency voltage combined with an audio signal to reduce distortion in tape recording
I went ahead and put the applicable information in bold lettering.
So, in it’s simplest form, bias is an inclination or personal outlook that is sometimes (but not always) unreasonable.
And now another:
transitive verb1 a: to change from good to bad in morals, manners, or actions; also : bribe b: to degrade with unsound principles or moral values2: rot, spoil3: to subject (a person) to corruption of blood4: to alter from the original or correct form or version <the file was corrupted>intransitive verb1 a: to become tainted or rotten b: to become morally debased2: to cause disintegration or ruin
While I think that this definition pretty much stands on its own, there is something that I found amazingly interesting in the context of what I want to talk about. Corruption is based on the tainting of morals.
Why is this significant? Well, one of the biggest accusations I have seen leveled against the NCFA is corruption based on its support from faith-based organizations (Birthmother Ministries, Christian adoption agencies, etc.). Essentially, the argument is being made that NCFA is corrupt because they are counseling expectant women based on Christian values, or morals. People are opposed to this promotions of morals and react by leveling accusations that, essentially, mean the exact opposite (degradation of morals). See the conflict? How can you corrupt morals by promoting them?
Now, that being said, I make no argument against bias. The promotion of any ideal involves bias. Whether that is the promotion of adoption based on the belief that children do better when raised in a two-parent family (wait, maybe that is a bad example since there is research that would take that belief beyond the realm of bias, but you get the idea), or whether it is bias based on an ideal that keeps every child with its biological parents. No matter how much people on either side of the equation may want to convince you otherwise, both positions are motivated by bias.
And I know that some people will claim that the distinction that I am making between bias and corruption is nothing short of semantics. And, to some extent, I can see that. The thing is, leveling accusations of corruption is a very strong thing. And to claim that supporting an institution that does not conform to someone else’s bias is equal to corruption, well, that’s a slippery slope.
Which brings me to me next topic–venting. I was hestitant to even mention why this is part of my post since it came from a woman discussing her feelings on a non-adoption related topic, but she took it into adoption and had so many people agree…
I guess I should explain. The topic of venting came up in regards to how people will sometimes react with a “There, there, they didn’t really mean it” when you get upset over a careless comment. It was taken into the realm of adoption by stating that the majority of nasty comments made about adoptive parents by other members of the triad are, in fact, just harmless venting that should be overlooked. This is the first time that I have seen this idea expressed in these terms, but I have certainly seen plenty of people backpedal from a comment with the excuse that they were “just venting.” While this is sometimes the case, for the majority of what I read I have to (with absolute respect) disagree.
Venting, in its most literal sense, is to release something from where it is contained. We frequently use the term “blowing off steam” to illustrate the same point. Either way, it is let go and dissipates. The majority of what I read is not intended to just float out into the ether and disappear. Instead, it seem to be written with the intention of the ideas being harnessed and used to steam power a locomotive of adoption reform. Which is fine. Just call it what it is.
But here’s the thing–if that is what you want to do, do something about it. I’m being serious here. Even if I don’t agree with you, I’d rather see you keep moving forward, than just “vent” about what you want to happen.
And don’t tell me that you could never compete with the NCFA because they have millions of dollars in backing. I sincerely doubt that they started out with all of that funding. I’m betting that they started with an idea that they knew others would agree with and the will to make it happen. If others agree with you, you could do the same.
If you want to see an organization to combat the current prevailing bias in the adoption industry, and instead promote your own bias, create one. But don’t just complain about the fact that one doesn’t exist.
In short, keep moving forward.