Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Nomenclatures, Euphemism and Anti-Adoption Accusations

The right to self identify is a subject I have discussed many times in relation to the right of anyone - including mothers who lost children to adoption - to be called what they prefer to be called.  There is personal conversation and more formal situations. Even within the personal sphere, there may be more than one way. It is, for instance, common practice for one to say "Sally" with close friends, and "my wife or partner" when speaking to less familiar acquaintances or colleagues, and more intimate nicknames when speaking directly with one's mate.

In addressing or referring to an adopted person, it is clear: adopted "child" is reserved for a minor child and is never appropriate for an adult, despite the fact that to a parent their child is always their child.

Conversely however, adoptees, have different terms they would use when speaking to their mother or about her, Depending on to whom they are speaking!  Clarity may make awkward or undesirable prefixes a necessity.

Additionally, as groups become empowered and evolve, it becomes politically challenging to keep up with what is currently PC and inoffensive. I always suggest simply asking how someone prefers to be called: birth mother, first mother... Just as we might stop and consider whether we refer to someone as Black or African American because it is an individual choice: there is no universal standard of acceptable by all in the category.

It is complicated when established organizations keep their original names as times change. Two glaring examples of this are the NAACP: National Association of Colored People still exists although no one with any sense would use the term "colored people."  Likewise ARC, The Association of Retarded People is still known as ARC long after "retarded" has fallen out of grace.

There are other terms with which we define ourselves or our positions. Family Preservation is a recognized part of social service practice, as clearly indicated in this link at Child Welfare Information Gateway. there is also a National Family Preservation Network which offers research-based tools, training resources, and technical assistance to public and private child- and family-serving agencies and a Family Preservation Institute at Mexico State University...just to name a few.

I have clarified my definition and use of this term in the column to the right and also in the FAQs where I specifically reply to the question: Is Family Preservation a euphemism for being anti-adoption.

It is thus exasperatingly mind blowing to be repeatedly defending Family Preservation as not a "euphemism for being anti-adoption" - especially from those within the adoption reform community - as if preventing unwarranted adoptions was an evil.  The use of euphemism in this fashion is a specious attack against an individual's or organization's values. 

This is the same inflammatory tactic used by Pro-Lifers who say or infer that "pro-choice" is code for pro-abortion, or favoring baby killing.  This intentional exaggeration of the spectrum of those who identify as pro-choice, many of whom find the idea of being pro-abortion repugnant, is as intentionally inaccurate as the national Council for adoption claiming that mothers who relinquish want or were promised anonymity. Lies for political gain.

Just as the vast majority of people I know under the pro-choice umbrella are totally opposed to the overuse of abortion, I know of NO family preservationists who advocate keeping children in abusive homes, as our adversaries would infer.  Being against adoptions that begin with the eradication of blood ties and a falsified birth certificate, does NOT equate to preferring to keep kids in harms way or in foster care!

In the political arena, we see this inflammatory mud slinging regularly. Accusations of Barack Obama or other democrats, or health care legislation being "socialism" while GOPs are disparagingly called fascists.  

Nor is there any correlation between family preservation and a dislike for, or attack on any who have adopted. While I recognize that demand creates supply,  I do not equate those who adopt with abductors (expect for those who illegally adopt or keep a child after ordered to return him).  These are wild, totally unsubstantiated accusations made by angry and desperate people to support some pro-adoption position. As a family preservationist, I no more dislike adopters than does the UNCRC whose values I am in keeping with in regard to preserving the integrity and rights of children to remain in their families of origins.

Having the United Nations, I would be remiss not to mention yet another argument I am increasingly faced with. When I say that I m no more "radical" or extreme in my positions than the UN, the retort is that the UN is "under attack" and losing respect, etc.  Some even go as far as to say that the UN is evil because it has helped nations to fight child trafficking and in doing so halted adoptions in progress. Those involved in such pending procedures are virulent in their anger!  Additionally, may adoption practitioners and those who represent, lobby and market for them - all of whim are directly or indirectly reliant on the financial income that the redistribution of children provides them - are likewise opposed to restriction that the UN and hague have helped countries enforce.

Naysayers and name-callers come in various forms. First are those who profit from adoption. They will attack family preservation every chance they get.  More insidious, as with the fight for equal access and other reforms in adoption practice, are the attacks from those personally affected by adoption.  Adoptive parents often feel very threatened by issues of access and efforts to prevent an assumed entitlement to adopt.

As opposed to Family Preservation, which as an established and reputable definition, the "anti-adoption" label is used as a pejorative in a broad variety of ways such as Adoption.about.com claiming it is "For those of the adoption triad that feel that they have been lied to, mistreated, or abused by the adoption industry."

CUB is caught on both sides - it's officers often accusing other individuals and groups of being "too" anti-adoption, they themselves have been accused of the same as reported by BN.

Many use a broad brush and call all reformers "anti-adoption" as indicated in these quotes from Catholic Exchange.com:
"...grass roots, anti-adoption advocacy groups such as “Bastard Nation” and “Adoption: Legalized Ties” are seeking to discourage adoption, choosing rather to advocate for disgruntled adult adoptees and “natural parents,” including those whose children were taken from them because of abuse and neglect."
"By and large, anti-adoption groups have vilified both adoptive parents and the agencies that mediate the placements. Recently, however, the attack has expanded to birth parents as well..."
The latter allegation sites Unsealed Initiative's fight for equal access in NY as violating the alleged promise of anonymity! The article goe son to make anti-adoption claims against Catholics who support young parents.  The book Adoption Mystique is also lablled as ati-adoption (guess they ahven't rea dmine!)

There will also always be adoptees and mothers who want to write endlessly about how equal access is harmful and hurts people - some of whom have searched themselves or have been reunited! This again relates back to the pro-choice; pro-life movement which often recruits women who have had abortions to "testify." Some such individuals may be likewise used by adoption profiters for political goals. Other adoptees and mothers have formed strong opinions and are eager to express them or act on them by adopting or becoming social workers in the field. Each of these individuals is entitled to their sincere beliefs, and we need to respect their feelings while hoping that they extend the same respect to us.

Family Preservation is a widely accepted child advocacy practice and presents no threat - except to baby brokers and other profiteers - and thus needs not be demeaned or labeled as anything negative.  Anti-adoption, on the other hand seems to be a term used to decsribe anything or anyone from Bastard Nation, CUB and equal access attempts to Legalized Lies as an evil, depending on who is doing the finger pointing and attempting to discredit whom.


Steve said...

It is critical to explain these thing!!! Thanks for taking the time to educate us.

As a long time "pro-lifer" by which I mean I believe that ending a life for any reason is expedience rather than justice....meaning I totally disagree with what our country is doing in Irak and Afghanistan, and have issues with the death penalty. And, I also want women who are stuck with a problem pregnancy to please not be proactive, as it wasn't the child's fault....I want to say I finally get it.

Your explanation of Pro Family not being anti adoption finally got it through my thick skull that Pro-choice is not pro adoption.

You are allowed a big "Duh" here!!

Kind of a side affect of your main point, I know, but I wanted you to know you are not shouting into a closet!

We Americans talk about freedom, and liberty....but often don't mean it for everybody.

Keep the truth flowing, Preserver of Families!!!

Steve said...

Indeed, thou dost tempt me to call myself a Pro-choicer!

AdoptAuthor said...

Well, that was a very unexpected outcome.

Vocational Nurse Program said...

Thanks for sharing adoption is great. You are giving a bright future for the child and getting him to the world of happiness and sour. God Will bless you all.

Mirah Riben said...


I am sorry that you have somehow misconstrued the message of this post and this entire blog.

My message is NOT that "adoption is great." If uou read the quotes at the top of the page, you will see that adoption should always be a last resort - and then should nver take away a person's true identity and heritage.

Adoption, as it is practiced in the US today is not child-centered. it is a money making industry that thrives on the desperation of people who will pay tens of thousands of dollars for a child. It exploits families in crisis and commodifies children.

God bless mothers and their children and may God reach the hearts of people to help these families through programs like Save the Children, SOS Village, Christian Children's Fund, etc. which help the whole family and do not tear them apart for profit.

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