There are many voices vying for space in Adoptionland. But, the loudest continues to be that of adoptive parents. They hold the dominant narrative and continue to carry the cultural perceptions of adoption.
Several months ago I had written a Facebook post that elicited emotional responses by those affected by adoption, including adoptive parents. I witnessed adoptees pleading their position while adoptive parents continued to dismiss and invalidate them. 'This isn't our experience, so it can't possibly be true..' They weren't listening. They were defensive and kept pushing back. It wasn't until another adoptive parent stepped in and told them to listen to these stories and stop talking, even when it's uncomfortable. She reminded them that the voices of these adoptees are the voices of their children in 10, 20, 30 years. It wasn't until she spoke that they retreated back to their corner.
In frustration, I reached out to my friend Annette and asked her to make a meme with those two words: Just Listen.
It's especially important for an adoptee to feel heard and understood. At the very inception our lives were determined by the decisions of others. We were voiceless. And for many, their lives weren't the happily ever after story everyone said it would be. Adoption isn't a fairytale.
We need a dominance shift. We need adoptee voices to be the most sought after and most powerful voice in adoption narrative today. We need real life stories. If we only listen to adoptive parents or industry workers then we will never hear truth in adoption. I pray that one day everyone will listen and truth will win.
Stephanie Mays Staats is an adoptee in reunion and a first mom who has had an extremely open adoption for 27 years. She is a volunteer search angel and founder of the search group New York Adoptees: Uncovering the Secrets, and also co-founder of Adoption Surveys. She authors the blog Bleeding Hearts: Uprooted and Transplanted by Adoption. She currently serves on the Board of Directors for Saving Our Sisters and the Advisory Board for Dear Adoption,
Thank you Stephanie from Adoptee Merch. Your voice is echoing through our communities, and we hear you. We appreciate you more than you know and we're honored you are a part of our movement.