Trigger Warning: Racist language used against Asians (used in a quote said to me)
Invalidation comes in all forms. I experience it most often when my graphics and posts get shared and exposed to people who have never confronted complexities with adoption and race.
“Won’t discredit her feelings, but I fear she’s had different experiences than others.”
“The term “woke” is used by youth isn’t it? It seems ridiculous to address a group of adults with this example of horrible grammar.”
“I understand what you’re saying, but there are plenty of adoptees who don’t feel this way.”
“You are the reason no one wants to adopt.”
I could list these for pages and pages. The common theme with invalidation… and bear with me because this should be obvious… is that the comments are never relevant to the main discussion. They force people to think about a different topic and leave the author questioning, “How exactly did we get here?”. That is exactly what invalidation is.
Derailing a conversation by nitpicking at whatever one can.
Ignoring the main point by sharing a personal anecdote and making the focus on the commenter.
Attacking the author’s character, identity, mental health, etc. as a way to prove they are not worth being heard. Also known as GASLIGHTING.
100% of the time, the people invalidating me are the ones the original post is about. They prove my point and make fools of themselves. It’s great I can have real life examples for the people actually learning. It’s still emotionally draining dealing with invalidation.
What I see is this: if I changed everything about my post that these people had an issue with… if I changed the phrases, if I tone policed myself, if I held their hand and walked them through it, they would still have an issue with the content. Because it’s not about the nitpicky stuff. It’s about the tough topics and conversations they are too afraid to have, so they shut me down as soon as possible.
Advocates are strong. We have lived experiences and we are sharing stories to spark conversations… to encourage people to consider perspectives different from their own. We will keep on going because for every 1 person that seeks to invalidate us there are 5 people truly listening, learning, and having insightful discussions with us. For every 1 person who laughs at me there are 10 adoptees messaging me asking for advice on how to have a challenging conversation with their adoptive parent.
The work by advocates is entirely valid and entirely necessary. We may not even agree on every point, but we stay open to the different perspectives and value every voice. The anger comes out when we are attacked and ridiculed for sharing our stories.
So, if you see this invalidation and gaslighting happening to someone and you have the energy, please help us. Often, it feels like our allies sit back and watch us fight the battles, but that’s not really what being an ally is. And if you find yourself writing a comment that may invalidate someone’s experience, go ahead and delete it. Regroup. Start again.
It costs people virtually nothing to sit and consider a different perspective. It does cost time and energy to type out a comment aiming to derail a conversation. If you don’t like what’s being said, then offer a different perspective and be ready for a conversation. OR keep on scrolling and let people who genuinely want to learn have a conversation instead.