Why am I writing this and not just ignoring the haters? Because I know about all the adoptees feeling alone and watching advocates being gaslighted when sharing their experiences. When you relate to someone sharing, and you see them being attacked for it, that automatically puts some fear into your mind that it’ll happen to you too.
The thing about being “out of line” with advocacy is… in order to promote change and reform you must step out of line and go against what has been the norm.
When I began sharing my story online, I knew what I would be getting myself into– not only connecting with fellow adoptees, but getting pushback from people who weren’t willing to acknowledge an alternative narrative.
This week was especially disappointing when I shared a trigger I have due to international adoption and my experience in an overseas orphanage. Having some fellow (domestic) adoptees gaslight and tell me to stay in my lane was jarring. My “lane” is sharing my experiences as a transnational adoptee in an effort to inform others about adoption trauma and to remind adoptees they are not alone in their struggles. I was already staying in my lane.
When I advocate, I don’t erase certain experiences to appease others. There are times when I tone police myself and choose my words carefully so I don’t triggers others. But to erase a very important part of my life is disingenuous.
It costs nothing to disagree with something and scroll past. It takes energy to do the following:
- Have a genuine conversation
- Work together to create a supportive environment
- Invalidate and personally attack
People must decide where to put their energy, and unfortunately, there will always be those few who choose Option 3.
My faith was restored when I was scrolling on another platform and I saw dozens of adoptees I know discussing their triggers and how they can support each other (adding trigger warnings, refrain from certain topics/words when necessary, giving space, etc.).
Yes, I believe people should always be working to understand their own traumas, but I also don’t think triggers just magically disappear after X amount of therapy. They come and go as your life progresses. They must be discussed and people should not be shamed for having them.
As someone who has adoption trauma and who has triggers, if you tell me something is triggering, I will do what I can to make sure your environment with me is safe. I will never tell you that your trigger is not my problem.
I will continue to post about my experiences, and occasionally share the extra vulnerable stuff like my orphanage life because the amount of adoptees who reach out telling me they no longer feel alone and unsupported will always outweigh those who tell me to be quiet.
And if someone shares their experiences and triggers and you start feeling outraged, take a breath and remind yourself that this time, it’s not about you.