Saturday, April 21, 2012

End the Secrets and Lies of Adoption: End the Shame of Adoption

Here we go again...a murder suspect is identified in the press as being adopted and there is an uproar.

Tucker Cipriano, 19, of Detroit, was charged with beating his adoptive father to death with a baseball bat.

In a well-composed, articulate letter-to-the editor, Tori Czech, who describes herself as "a young, successful, compassionate, ADOPTED individual" makes an impassioned plea against revealing the adopted status of people charged with murder.

She believes it stigmatizes all adoptees by association and will make people fearful of adopting, and fearful of adoptees in general. You can read her arguments in Does Adoption Detail Belong in Murder Story? Farmington Hills native says media included irrelevant information in Cipriano pieces.

I Disagree

I do not believe that intelligent people would use them to caste a wider net of suspicion or fear on all peoples who bear a similarity. If that were the case, the media would be barred from every factually disclosing a victim or perpetrator's race. Was not Trayvon's age, race and what he was wearing and doing at the time he was shot not relevant to the story? If Trayvon and Zimmerman had known each other previously in any capacity, would that not be relevant?

When a celebrity such as Lindsay Lohan or Charelie Sheen act out publicly - do we conclude that ALL celebrities are nuts or dug users?

When a politician is embroiled in a sex scandal, do we then believe that all politicians are pervs?

Some may choose to connect those dots and make such judgements or generalizations. It can't be helped. But we do not CENSOR facts from the news to prevent that from happening, nor to prevent "offending."

The relationship between a criminal (or alleged criminal) - and victim, especially in a murder case is very much RELEVANT and crucial to the story. A reporter who omitted it would be remiss in his duties in reporting, just as in a domestic violence case it matters whether the people were married, dating, living together, separated, divorced...
Any would-be adopters who are scared off by the truth, should not be adopting. prospective adopters need to know and fully embrace that adopted children come with baggage that cannot always be loved away. If some are afraid to take the risk or cannot accept that adoptees have suffered a grievous loss  of family and have a genetic inheritance that is foreign to their adoptive family, then they are best not to. One less in a long line of demand that far outweighs "supply" and creates high prices, exploitation, coercion and corruption world-wide as babies are stolen, kidnapped and trafficked to meet the a good thing, not a concern at all. 
It has always interested me that the Toris of the world get up in arms about these types of mentions of adoption but find nothing wrong with celebs revealing and discussing their adoptions, or politicians who wear their adoptive parents status on their sleeve, or all the bogs that detail every sad step of "adoption journeys" through infertility to homecoming and beyond. When it is going to get the adopter kudos, or make them look noble, it's fine to tell the world about a child being adopted! So much hypocrisy
Yesterday a little 10-year-old girl named Infinity ran way and went missing in NJ. She ran away from her foster mother after learning she may be being adopted - and ran to find her REAL mother! How could that story have been reported without revealing those relationships? 
And when another Tori made headlines - Tori Hansen who sent Artyem back to Russia - were we not supposed to know it was a boy she had ADOPTED she sent back??? It is critical to the story. So it is when a boy is accused of murdering a parent, foster parent, step parent or adoptive parent. They are NOT the same and the differences are important.
We need to get ALL secrecy out of adoption. Pull back the curtains, remove the rose-colored glasses, and face the truths - good, bad and ugly!  If there is any possible - even remote - possibility of a cause and effect of adoption loss and separation that correlates to increases feelings of abandonment and rejection that in turn have even the slightest causal effect of suicides or murders -- shouldn't we be able to document case histories, collect and analyze the data in order to possibly find a way of preventing the angst in adoption that might lead someone to act out so violently???
Would it be wrong to report that a criminal (or alleged criminal) and his victim were STEP parent and step child? Is it wrong to reveal that criminal and victim are siblings, or step siblings? Aunt, uncle, niece, nephew or grandparent and grandchild? 
Relationships in crime MATTER! And if you can brag about adoption when it suits ya'll - and you DO! - then be honest about it when it is less than pleasant as well. Just be honest for goodness sake! Or ask yourself, is adoption something anyone should be ashamed of?

Adoption is a fact of life. It is no different from reporting is a couple was married, separated or divorced. thats status is germane to the story of what occurred between those two people.

To keep adoption cloaked in secrecy is to create it as a "dirty little secret" and make all adopted people ASHAMED of their adopted status. Why should they be made to feel that way? To fully understand the depth of shame felt by adoptees, read my post of yesterday on that very topic:  Adoption's Legacy of Shame, Silencing of truth, and Censorship.
The Truth Will Set us Free

It is not just good, thorough, truthful reporting or the public's right to know all the facts to report adoption also helps mothers identify the child they lovingly sacrificed or were pressured to let go so many years ago. Marie Osmond's son's original mother attended his funeral and that was a blessing for her to have closure and say goodbye to her son. I thus favor all cases where a murder or suicide victim is adopted being clearly identified as such as well. 
Sometimes adoptees are rejected by their adoptive family at a time of crisis, like being charged with a horrendous crime. If members of the original family know, they can sometimes offer support in addition to or instead of the adoptive family.
In adoption circles there is a long-standing saying: The truth will set you free! Far too much of adoption is shrouded in secrets and lies all of which result in SHAME. We need to break that knee-jerk need to want to "protect" with secrets and lies. The truth is freeing, liberating and empowering. Adoption and adoptees are NOT dirty little secrets! Those who claim to love them should respect and honor their truth - and the truth is that every adopted person has TWO families. Let it be known so that they might glean whatever support possible from both families at a time of need.
Sanitizing things is not always the best solution, even when it may seem so.

To Tori Czech and others who feel "offended" by adoption being part of a tragic story, I remind them of these wise lyrical words of the Eagles:
So often times it happens that we live our lives in chains And we never even know we have the key 
The truth will set you free!

UPDATE 4/22: And the debate takes a new turn - is adoption to "blame."
Of course, the question is far too simplistic. We need to explore the ROLE adoption played in this tragedy ad others like it.


Sunday Taylor said...

First and foremost let’s not forget that the local article was written by a CHILD, who I am sure is feeling very defensive AS a fellow adoptee.

Now, let me say that as I got a tweet informing me that 2 of my children were being held on-lock down, in two different schools because I teen and his friend(s?) had killed a parent and attacked other family members with a baseball bat, I knew in my gut…instantly that it was likely that that child had in fact been adopted. Not because adoptees are inherently baseball bat murders but because that kind of RAGE doesn’t usually happen in a vacuum…even amongst druggies. Adoption is indeed complicated, more people need to understand and respect that.

Mirah Riben said...

Yes, Tori Czech is young and hopefully open-minded enough to see that there are many issues at stake here and taking the road guided by fear is not always best.

And... similar arguments have bene put forth by adoptive parents who are agreeing with her wholeheartedly in the comments!

Sunday Taylor said...

Yes, this is such a sad and frustrating story all the way around.
There is so little understanding what the separation from family can do to a kid. That getting a new family isn’t magic. And to make matters worse so many times when a child struggles with the complexity of the experience they are (I have no idea in this particular case), subjected to treatment methods which are counterproductive and inspire more rage rather than less. My heart breaks for everyone involved. We don’t prevent future tragedies by pretending that this one never happened or that pain and shame do not sometimes equal rage. We prevent future tragedies by taking a good hard look at what really happened and we try to learn from it.

Anonymous said...

Yes, I am young. I also try to remain open-minded. So, I hope that you keep in mind that this letter was written prior to the release of the rest of the information on his adoption. It not written out of fear or anger. It was written with the question, "why didn't anyone think about this before releasing it?" No one in the industry gave me a good answer. I heard things like the police just told us so we included it, and it gave us information on his whereabouts (which is the dumbest response because plenty of 19 year olds don't live at home). It was written out of frustration that people don't have the better judgement to think things like this through. They couldn't have waited one more day to that they could elaborate on the adoption clause? really? And not everyone who reads the news is a genius. Not everyone will look at this and say, "anomaly, this could have been done by anyone." I'm sorry but not everyone is just that smart. And it's true that you wouldn't want those people adopting kids, but I also don't feel like getting looked down on by stupid people. That's just making our lives harder for no reason. And it's only because the media didn't take the time to think hey, why was this included. That's what really bothers me.

Mirah Riben said...

Tori - as I said in my previous comment, I was replying not just to you but to many who have put forth this argument, and those who agreed with you in their comments on your letter..

I agree - and also said so - that people are stupid and jump to conclusions. They may think a Black man is more likely to be guilty than a white man. They may think someone who is running away is more likely guilty. It's sad happens all the time.

You just need to know that neither you not any other adopted person is any more likely to be a danger to c=society than any non-adopted person, and hold your head high and don't worry about what stupid people think. Those who know you, know you are a bright, intelligent and i am guessing caring person. And those who do;t know you and might judge you based on one thing about you, i.e. being adopted - you don;t need to care about.

I'm glad you came here and read the other sides of this controversial issue. As for the media, they will put in whatever details they know and then elaborate as they dig deeper and more details are revealed. It happens all the time. that's how news get stages. And sometimes we never get the full story.

Robin said...

I think Tori makes a good point that stories like this further stigmatize adoptees. I do, however, think that Adoption is relevant to this story. The take-away we hope people get is that if someone is troubled that being adopted can be the catalyst that pushes him over the edge. Not that adoptees as a rule are maladjusted and dangerous.

I do think the media mentions too frequently that someone is adopted. It is not necessary in a picture caption to write "Hugh Jackman is playing on the beach with his ADOPTED daughter. Just calling her his daughter would suffice. I read that Michael Reagan requested that he not always be referred to as President Reagan's ADOPTED son. I don't blame him. It's as if the media wanted to keep pointing out that Michael is not really Ronald Reagan's son.

As a family preservationist, my hope is that stories of crimes committed by adoptees will put the focus on the deleterious effects of adoption itself rather than on the adoptee (who, after all, never had any say is being adopted in teh first place). Unfortunately, I don't think this is what happens. I think the person just gets stigmatized for being adopted.

Mirah Riben said...

And the debate takes a new turn - is adoption to "blame."

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