Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Adoption Comparisons

Adoption has been compared to marriage in that it unites family unrelated people. It is a comparison I have always cringed at because marriage involves CONSENTING adults! Big difference.

"Since marriage constitutes slavery for women, it is clear that the women's movement must concentrate on attacking this institution. Freedom for women cannot be won without the abolition of marriage." Sheila Cronan
"The end of the institution of marriage is a necessary condition for the liberation of women. Therefore it is important for us to encourage women to leave their husbands..." Declaration of Feminism.

"...feminists invoked contract as a model for equality in marriage, counterposing it to bondage." From bondage to contract: wage labor, marriage, and the market in the age of... By Amy Dru Stanley

Many of us likely do not agree. Perhaps most of us. But some people do and prefer to cohabit.

Comparative arguments like these - whether you agree or disagree - create lively and thoughtful discussion and debate.

In my first book, The Dark Side (1988) I compared birthmother to Vietnam Vets. That did not in any way imply that birthmothers were subjected to or at risk of anything near the physical assaults of one in war. It simply compared the issue of being deceived into thinking that you were doing good and many later realizing they were duped and feeling anger and depression and PTSD.

No one objected to that comparison even though it is pretty far-fetched!

Many of us have debated whether adoption is abandonment or not. For many adoptees it feels that way, and some mothers may have felt that they were abandoning their babies. Others - myself included - did not. I was completely brainwashed to believe that what I was doing was best, not wrong. I fully recognize adoptees to express their abandonment feelings, though it is not my reality. I respect that it is theirs and no e can tell another how or what to feel.

So, why then if some adoptees, or mothers, identify with the story of Jaycee's adoption - in any way whatsoever - would we not openly discuss in what ways adoption is like kidnapping?

Interestingly, one mother I quoted in The Dark Side in 1988 compared adoption to a life sentence in prison and to MURDER...infanticide to be exact, saying:

". . . It is a life sentence with no parole. Birth-mothers are consigned to a special level of hell, where we burn forever in a frozen flame that tortures, but does not consume, and gives no light. . . (Adoption) is an institutionalized form of symbolic infanticide, with all the horror, revulsion and guilt intact. . . We feel like murderers because we ARE murderers—but we killed with a pen, not a gun . . . Adoption does not kill the body, but it surely kills a large part of the soul, both of the mother and of the child." Mary Anne Cohen, The Dark Side of Adoption , p 71
That seems a bit more dramatic and harsh than allowing adoptees or mothers to think about in what ways adoption resembles being kidnapped....which I STILL claim is merely a legal difference.

Other mothers have compared the loss of their child to an amputation or to themselves being aborted. Those are their comparisons; the analogies and symbolism they see and feel when they try to find to express their pain and loss.

Some of us put this symbolism into poems or artwork or film or dance. Others just simply state that that is how they feel. Each of us has that right to free expression and disagreements - when done respectfully - are part of how we learn and grow.

It is unfair and unkind, however, to simply shut someone -- or a discussion -- down by stating that their comparison is WRONG, or inaccurate, or a stretch. It may be that for you, but it may be totally different for another.

For the happily married person, comparing marriage to slavery is preposterous. And yet that be another's reality of their life's experience.

6 comments:

maryanne said...

Oh man, was I melodramatic in my younger and stupider days! Just another reason why I have gotten rid of most of the awful mawkish poetry I used to write. What I said I said, in the depths of depression, but I do not feel that way any more, and am really ashamed of myself for having been that far over the edge and gotten drowned in bad metaphor. Better I should have soaked my head in a bucket until I felt better!

Never put anything in writing or it can come back to bite you on the ass as this has. I won't be sitting down for a week!:-)

maryanne said...

It is not disrespectful nor does it end discussion to say that you think someone's opinion is wrong. That is just disagreement, and the other person can come back and and say "no, I think my opinion is right, and this is why..." and so it goes, back and forth. Discussion dies out when everyone agrees, not when there are different points of view.

AdoptAuthor said...

Yes, to say "that is your opinion, but I disagree" leads to a healthy discussion. Dogmatic statements that your way is right and others are simply wrong, not so much. It is that type of forceful rhetoric that closes down much meaningful discussion whether on a heated issue like abortion, or currently simple discussions of health care reform.



"No, adoption is not indenture. Nor is it slavery or kidnapping. But you have made it clear you believe it is all of those things.

"I don't understand your fascination with comparing adoption to other "shocking" things and deciding they are the same, because some pieces of dictionary definitions can be made to fit. "Stirring the pot" in this way does not create change. It is more likely to stop people from looking at what is really wrong with adoption; to dismiss the whole argument because it is too extreme and easily dismissed.

"Adoption is its own thing, it has its own problems and abuses, many of which you and others have pointed out clearly without resulting to extreme and loose analogies that some people do find insulting, off-putting, and exaggerated.

"It is not a matter of political correctness, but of equating a bad thing with a much worse thing, or with something that is only tangentially similar. It is not a good way to argue for your cause because it leaves gaping holes in your argument. The analogies don't work, except to the like-minded choir you are preaching to."

Perhaps you understand better now? As I said, I may not have been clear enough when I first began to think about these issues.

maryanne said...

Ummmm....those are my OPINIONS. Yours may vary.

You can disagree and obviously you do. Oh well. It is my writing style to write in declarative statements, but I am only writing about my own observations and opinions that anyone can disagree with and many do quite frequently and vociferously.

Since you are equally opinionated when anyone disagrees with you, I think we have a bit of the pot calling the kettle black here. I admit to being an opinionated black pot. "here is my handle, and here is my spout.........:-)

AdoptAuthor said...

Yes: Declarative statements and yes, we are both opinionated!

Kippa said...

Personally, I think you can only make a fair comparison if you can fairly compare.
Otherwise the comparison is likely to be invidious.
But then, what would I know?

"I simply compared the issue of being deceived into thinking that you were doing good and many later realizing they were duped and feeling anger and depression and PTSD."
No one objected to that comparison even though it is pretty far-fetched!"
I don't know, because I haven't read your book, but perhaps you made it clear that their PTSD was primarily caused by the horrors they had witnessed and experienced, and the disillusion they felt was a contributing factor.

"It is unfair and unkind, however, to simply shut someone -- or a discussion -- down by stating that their comparison is WRONG, or inaccurate, or a stretch. "
I find that a curious idea. From my POV, disputing or disagreeing with someone's opinion can only "shut down a discussion" if the person whose opinion is being challenged is willing to make that call.


"For the happily married person, comparing marriage to slavery is preposterous. And yet that be another's reality of their life's experience."
That's true. Just as what somebody thought and felt over twenty years ago is not necessarily representative of what they may think and feel today.
Like Maya Angelou says, 'When we know better, we do better".

RussiaToday Apr 29, 2010 on Russian Adoption Freeze

Russi Today: America television Interview 4/16/10 Regarding the Return of Artyem, 7, to Russia alone

RT: Russia-America TV Interview 3/10

Korean Birthmothers Protest to End Adoption

Motherhood, Adoption, Surrender, & Loss

Who Am I?

Bitter Winds

Adoption and Truth Video

Adoption Truth

Birthparents Never Forget