Adoption Trolls (& Other Beastly Beings)
Once upon a time, there was a little adoption agency that found itself waging a valiant online struggle with adoption trolls (& other beastly beings.)
It started innocently enough. The little agency had found a news story about a teen mom considering adoption, which used archaic language that dated back to the orphan train era.
The little agency posted it on their Facebook page, with a comment about the headline using outdated language.
Another group shared the post on their Facebook page. (Fair enough.)
Suddenly, strangers who are not a part of the little adoption agency’s group began posting ugly accusations accusing the little adoption agency of everything from puffery to trickery to child-trafficking.
The little agency struggled to figure out if– or how– to respond?
Staffed with therapists and social workers, the little agency wanted to believe that the people behind those ugly posts actually meant well, and simply misunderstood the little agency’s intentions.
Efforts to enter into dialogue, however, were simply met with some even more slanderous claims.
The little agency didn’t want to censor visitors to its page. Yet it knew that the things being said were not just offensive to the agency; they were potentially injurious to the agency’s adoption community, good people who have done nothing to warrant such unjust attacks.
So what’s a little adoption agency to do? The little agency decided to read each comment from the perspective of an underage adoptee, and delete only those that were potentially harmful or confusing to Abrazo’s minor adoptees and all the parents who love them most.
Is Adoption Good? Or Is Adoption Bad?
Undoubtedly, anti-adoption activism is on the rise, and it is largely indisputable that the adoption industry itself has often deserved such critical scrutiny due to questionable ethics, egregious acts and sometimes (sadly) unchecked greed.
Adoption in its purest form is meant to be a good thing, but even in its goodness, we must never lose sight of the fact that adoption is born of loss, and must therefore be a choice of last resort for parents who cannot raise their children and for children who cannot grow up in their family of origin. How we do adoption– and when and why we do it– must always be child-centered from start to finish, and our efforts and actions must be beyond reproach, because ultimately, it is the child to whom we are all accountable.
And even then, we must be mindful of the fact that adoption (yes, even the “best” of adoptions) will leave some scars of varying degrees, depending on the needs and/or vulnerabilities of the people involved. Every human life is potentially marred by varying forms of trauma, and the primal wound of an infant or child being separated from his or her original parent is bound to impact both on some level. And that impact may continue to affect the lives of the adoptee and the birthparents and the adoptive family, in ways they may or may not anticipate over the years.
This is not the “fault” of the birthparents nor the adopting parents nor the professionals they hire, yet it is imperative that all the adults must absolutely be aware of this painful truth. The temptation is to minimize it, because we all want to protect the children involved, but in order to protect those who must become adoptees, we must have the courage to be honest about this, with them and with ourselves.
It’s a normal inclination to want to throw the baby out with the proverbial bathwater by seeking to abolish adoption or condemn it as kinship genocide or to point fingers at those who promote it or even who seek to defend it. And for those who see themselves as having been victims of adoption, it may even be therapeutic to speak out against it.
It’s also normal, if one wants to see adoption as being virtuous or positive, to want to label those who oppose it as adoption trolls (or other beastly beings.)
But if we are ever to make adoption better for those for whom it must occur, and if we are to build any bridges of healing for those for whom it did not work well, then we must find some means of working together, and that will requires empathy and mutual respect and, yes, healthy communication.
Take the Little Adoption Pledge
And towards that end, we must resist the impulse to label each other– whether as adoption trolls or babysnatchers or breeders or angryadoptees or babysellers, or whatever ugly taunts folks throw at each other when they’re feeling threatened. (And yes, that goes for us, too. We all have the potential to act beastly at times.)
So we challenge you (yes, you– along with all of us) to take this little adoption pledge. Raise your right hand and read aloud, if you will:
“I pledge to work towards the betterment of adoption, not for the sake of any program nor entity, but for the welfare of children and all the parents who love them. I will strive to hear those whose opinions differ from mine, and to not be baited nor respond to those to who seek merely to insult or offend, rather than to promote healing and reform. I pledge to honor those who have been adopted, whether they perceive themselves to be victims or victors of that experience, and to embrace their right to their own truth, whether or not it reflects my own. I pledge to set aside my own bias, to whatever extent possible, in order to be fully-vested in being an agent of change for the better.”
Because adoption trolls (& other beastly beings) exist only in our minds, and it’s going to take all of us to banish them and to focus instead on working towards a happier ending to every child’s story.