Dear Adoption, Dear NAAM
November is National Adoption Awareness Month. It is a time in which most people promote adoption and look to praise adoptive parents as they overshare the private stories of their adopted children.
In recent years adopted people have worked hard to reclaim NAAM and redirect the focus onto adopted people. The battle has been and continues to be an uphill one.
Adopted adults are infantilized, spoken for, minimized and labeled as angry when telling their own stories.
Oddly enough, adoptive parents of young children are often the greatest critics of adopted adults. Wouldn’t it make sense for them to be our biggest supporters? After all, the young children of adoptive parents do, in fact, grow up to be adopted adults. Most adult adoptees who talk openly about living adopted in books, blogs, movies, podcasts, plays, and other art forms do so with intent to educate non adopted people and create more understanding for young adoptees. That their parents are frequently so defensive and aggressive, dismissive and silencing to adult adoptees is shocking.
Unfortunately, these comments are a sampling of what we frequently hear in response to a shared adoptee experience:
“My children don’t feel that way.”
“I’m sorry you had a bad experiences, but…”
“My kids don’t want to meet their bio family.”
“You don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“My children would be dead if I hadn’t adopted them.”
“We gave our kids better lives.”
“You should get over it and just be grateful.”
Every one of the above comments was copy and pasted from other Dear Adoption, posts. I just want to clear something up a couple things in response to a few of the statements above: I never told my parents how I really felt about adoption and still have a hard time as an adult and father, myself. I told my everyone I never wanted to find my original family while constantly hoping I could find them. I didn’t have “a bad experience”; adoption is a really hard thing for a human to deal with.
Dear Adoption, Dear NAAM
We will not quiet ourselves.
We will not stop sharing.
We will not lie for your comfort.
We will share openly, painfully, boldly (even if we must do so anonymously).
We will speak through our tears.
We will relive the trauma of adoption every time it comes up.
We will not be dismissed.
We will fight for adoptee rights.
We will tell the truth.
We will do these things so that all adoptees can benefit and be better heard.