I've written much about in-fighting in the adoption reform movement. It's not unique to adoptionland. In-fighting exists in all grassroots movements, in entertainment, sports, in academia, and in the business world.
Often, people on the same team with the same goals disagree about how to achieve those goals. The more passionate the issues, the more likely there will be differences of opinions. And our issues are often very personal and emotionally charged. Disagreements are a part of life and likely there'd be little progress without a heated debate, now and then, as to how accomplish a desired outcome. Compromise is not easy when strong feelings are involved.
In the case of adoption we have people coming at the issues from different perspectives and with vastly different levels of education (both formal and knowledge of adoption issues and history), varying levels of awareness and insight, varying levels of tact, and varying levels of hurt and healing.
Obviously there are going to be disputes. We cannot expect everything to just go along rosy. The issue is, how we deal with these disagreements, especially in the Internet age.
We all know that once a naked picture or sex tape gets on the Internet or the cloud it is there to stay. Permanent. (Irrevocable, like a relinquishment of parental rights!) No do-overs. And no apology can ever erase it.
Case in point: I googled "B J Lifton" adoptee, distinguished author, lecturer, and highly regarded figure in the history of adoption reform and this is, sadly, what came up.
First two "hits" on the first page:
This is a huge embarrassment! For one thing, the whole rift was RESOLVED, but of course that, like retractions in newspapers is buried or non-existent.
Secondly, that it happened in the first place is ridiculous. Trifling!
It was wrong and that is why the conference organizers reascended their banishment of BJ from the conference.
I posted about it as well because it so WRONG and i cna tell you that controversy "sells." My blog posy about this incident got more comments than ANY ever!! And BNs nearly crashed the stratosphere.
We WILL disagree. Connecticut, which is getting ready to introduce a bill closing up the gap of the years not covered in the first bill that granted adoptee access, will prove once and for all that laws can and WILL be passed incrementally! Hopefully (though I must admit doubtfully) it will end the name-calling and ruckus made by a small vocal (though not well known or recognized) group of adoptees who put more effort into dissing the hard work of others than trying to get any meaningful legislation passed. Hopefully, it will end their (fear-based) claim that "imperfect" or "unclean" access laws will never be changed.
Of course the argument ignores the fact all access laws change the existing status quo of laws created to close records that were originally unsealed...and ignores prohibition that came and went. Laws come and go and are changed and amended all the time. It was never an argument that made any sense but it was - and is - the argument against "accepting compromises" - as if any of us want to! (And if those who complained the loudest actually did any work on legislation, they'd know that compromise is the name of the game and you try for as little as possible but have to give in order to get anything!)
But I digress.
My point here is, and the lesson I hope we can all take from this is that when we disagree let's try to do it in PRIVATE message exchanges and not blast the Internet with our dirty laundry that will remain long after the issue has been resolved.
Before pressing "POST" remember that you are not just hurting the individual or group you disagree with, but you are hurting the movement and our progress. And try to disagree with dignity and respect.
As another example, if you google my name, or my name +adoption you will find thousands of "hits." One adoptive mother who got her panties in a crunch because I called her on the FACT that she adopted from the same convicted baby broker - Lauryn Galindo - used by Angelina Jolie. The ap in question apparently has the money and the inclination to keep her scathing reply to me among the first page of google results! So there it is. The world can see that when you are a mover and shaker and make waves, you upset people! Well shucks. I ain't a "well-behaved" woman, I'm an activist!
While we want to be outspoken and HEARD in our activism and NOT silenced, respect among and between us is always a good thing.
Think long and hard before posting what you want YOUR legacy to be as well as the legacy of others of us. BJ did not deserve to be treated this way and surely does not deserve to be remembered for one of the ugliest scars on the entire history of adoption reform! It was all much ado about nothing but has left it's mark for time immemorial.
And respect also goes to the heart of the BJ incident - respect for the language we use. None of us want to use language that would hurt another of us, but we also need to be left to use the language we ourselves are perfectly comfortable with,knowing full well the arguments against its use. I see it as exactly the same issue as Black vs African American. To each his own! And even those old-timers who cling to using negro, as the NAACP retains its original name.
All oppressed groups of people demand and deserve to SELF-IDENTIFY, that often is very individual.
These are blots on our history and hopefully though they remain have receded from the foreground and allowed us to focus our limited time and precious energy on the far more important issues of equal access, ending corruption, profiteering, coercion, exploitation and commodification.