Adoption Groups Offer Valuable Information - If You Can Get Past the Conflicting Agendas
I joined a number of facebook groups and forums on adoption to gain connections with others who shared this experience as well as to educate myself
. I met many great people with common interests and learned lots of valuable information I otherwise might not have known. But I also experienced the darker underbelly. Attacks on group members as racists, poor parents, people who support trafficking… the list, unfortunately, goes on.
I have to admit, in one group I stopped posting anything but the most benign material. I preferred not to risk the drama I experienced on the few occasions when I posted a blog post. People felt free to offer opinions and criticize without even bothering to read the post. The critiques often misrepresented what I had written, and sometimes it seemed the only intent was to have a different, very negative conversation. This was referred to as "hijacking" a thread.
At first, I tried to faithfully respond to help people understand my perspective. But, I found those threads still continued to spiral down. I had one mom message me privately, telling me not to reply further, as that would just keep the string going and that's what those negative participants wanted. Some groups are much better than other with rules and moderators to keep things civil and productive. But still, I wondered why that's required if we all come to the forums and groups from a similar place with similar goals. And then it hit me. We don't.
People in these groups are at different stages of their journeys with different experiences to draw from. Some are new to adoption with rose-colored glasses. Some are not new, but only want to hear the happy ending story. Others are veterans of attachment disorders, diseases they never heard of before or had limited exposure to, and others are victims of record keeping that is at best inadequate and at worst fraudulent. Some are out to change history and shine a light on the bad in their experience.
Some explicitly share their goals and others leave them unsaid or even unexplored. But from my view, there were a variety of goals that were often at cross purposes and made it hard to find common ground. Certain individuals have religious goals that they draw from to support their position. Others have an agenda of civil rights and providing the minority perspective, which is challenging because most of the parents in the forums and groups I belong to are members of the majority who are raising a minority child
. Some people are supportive of adoption, while others have a much more complex relationship with the institution. Yet others are adult adoptees who give the perspective of the child in the process, as they see it.
And as with any large cross section of humanity, there is every other kind of divide you could expect -- age, education, culture, race, country
, and religion. In my view, these groups show how far we still need to come to work together for a common purpose. So why do I remain in these groups when many others have left with explanations of how the bitterness was not worth it for them?
I stay because, when it all works, it is beautiful. When a mother gets advice and support
for a challenging situation without judgment, it is beautiful. Where there is a difficult exchange about race and privilege in a respectful tone, from which we all learn something about another's perspective and experience, it is beautiful.
I stay because I think the dialogue is valuable, and the difficulty doesn't diminish that value. I don't pretend I support all that is said or the tone of many exchanges. But I think it is in the continued trying, even if it includes continued failing, that we have a chance of success. I owe that to myself, as well as to my daughter and my sons
who will face all these issues and differences themselves one day soon.
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