The reporter’s query called to me. Wedged between a Huffington Post come-on for “Boozy Coffee Cocktail Recipes for the Holidays” and Anonymous’ assignment for “Restaurants on Farms,” it was like a beacon in this morning’s HARO newsletter: “Things Adoptive Parents Think You Should Know About the Process.”
Curious to know more, I clicked for the details and immediately saw red.
“We’re looking for advice from parents who have gone through the adoption process,” the reporter writing for Woman’s Day had written. “What was the hardest part? The best part? What was the most time-consuming part? Would you do it again? What do you wish people told you beforehand?
“Requirements: You must have gone through the adoption process.”
It’s National Adoption Awareness Month so naturally the world is very concerned about the adoptive parent’s experience.
Actually, it doesn’t matter what month it is, the adoptive parent point of view inevitably trumps all. The adoption narrative, with its promise of forever families created by selfless couples, is so ingrained in our collective psyche that few people think about adoptees like me who are at the center of the arrangement.
Our voice is purposely kept out of the conversation. No one asks what it feels like to be adopted — or considers that being adopted might not be a perfectly positive experience for us. And if we try to share our stories, our desires to know our roots and figure out where we fit in, the first thing people invariably ask is, “How do your adoptive parents feel about that?”
Sitting in front of my laptop, I decided this HARO query offered a teachable moment.
Swallowing some growing irritation with my coffee, I decided to reach out to the reporter writing for Woman’s Day and pitch a better story:
Your HARO query on the adoption process caught my eye — and made me sad. I’m a 52-year-old adoptee and wonder why adoption articles always seem to revolve around adoptive parents’ wants and needs.
Adoptees are the people most affected by adoption, yet our experiences are rarely represented in the conversation around adoption. Why is that? What about highlighting our thoughts and insights on the process? What we think is hardest or the best part, or what we wish adoptive parents and society at large knew about the lasting impact of being relinquished?
Perhaps you’d consider an article that looks at our point of view? I’d be glad to chat with you and could connect you to other adult adoptees who would be willing to speak about how it feels to be adopted and why our voices should be part of the discussion.
My adoption blogs put me in touch with thousands of other adoptees who encouraged me to write a book about my journey to find my birth mother. I appreciate those votes of confidence, but instead of writing about me, I have decided to write a book about you – the adoptees I’ve already met and those I plan to meet the next few months.
In the coming months I’ll be interviewing Baby Scoop era adoptees about their experiences to get to the heart of what it means to be adopted.
The book’s focus
I’ll be speaking with adoptees who have searched and those who choose not to, those in positive reunions with biological family members and those who did not connect or whose reunions have fizzled. We’ll discuss:
Despite the spotlight on adoption these days and the movement to open birth records that is gaining momentum across the country, all too often adoptee voices remain absent from the discussion on adoption.
We are viewed as forever children, with the media and pro-adoption groups often speaking on our behalf as though everyone else will always know what’s best for us.
Or we are portrayed in stereotypes: the people-pleasing adoptee, the selfish adoptee, the angry adoptee … or worse.
The truth is that while we have some shared experiences and insights, each adoptee story is distinctive. Each of us deserves to be heard.
Movements like The Lost Daughters #FliptheScript initiative and adoptee blogs like The Declassified Adoptee have started to shine a light on the subject. Adoptees’ memoirs and anthologies offer poignant individual glimpses at what it means to be us. But more attention is needed if we’re ever to move past the secrets and lies that are the hallmarks of our stories.
The book is all about you
My book will bring together a large cross-section of adoptees whose stories will support, connect and inspire adoptees and the people who love them.
More than 30 people — many of them strangers — have agreed to speak with me in just a few weeks of my making casual requests. Many of them have already shared their journeys with me.
That tells me I’m on to something. I hope you’ll agree.
If you’re a Baby Scoop-era adoptee willing to share your story, write to me at email@example.com so we can arrange a time to chat.