Here’s the disclaimer to ensure you read until the end: NOT ALL PARENTS INVALIDATE ADOPTEES
After spending a few years in various adoption groups online, a common theme in all is: adoptees being silenced and written off for being “disrespectful and argumentative”. When I see those comments, I scratch my head. Looking at the comment threads I don’t see any hostility.
Until one thing happens.
A non-adopted person comments something along the lines of, ‘You are out of line. You are being disrespectful. You are just angry. You have no right to tell me this.’ (Yes, I paraphrased and combined them all together)
The adoptee sharing will defend themselves and are then met with more invalidation.
Offering a different perspective isn’t disrespect. Sharing an authentic experience that makes someone uncomfortable isn’t disrespect. Disrespect is arguing that an adoptee being vulnerable is childish, an outburst, a tantrum, and purposely argumentative.
Many say they are open to adoptee perspectives. Many say they want to hear about our experiences. Only a few truly mean it. Many begin with the gaslighting and invalidation as soon as they think our experience threatens their narrative.
No one should have to add the NOT ALL disclaimer to everything they say. Someone open to learning would already know that NOT ALL is understood. And yet, many become confused when adoptees and advocates get angry at the wall of “NOT ALL” comments on their post.
Truly listening to a perspective in an effort to learn means sitting through discomfort, contemplating the message, engaging in thoughtful conversation, and seeking out more resources. It does not involve nitpicking at language, tone-policing, or reminding adoptees that we can always just go to other groups if we want our voices to be valued. See my blog post (CLICK HERE) about these forms of invalidation– written after they were all used on me.
This is exactly why there are dozens (hundreds?) of adoptee-run platforms. We had to create our own spaces. We are still fighting for a seat at the table. I’ve largely given up on all of the adoption groups. It’s too exhausting trying to get people to listen. Instead, I invest my energy into this blog and my Adoption YouTube Channel, resources that people seek out when they are wanting to learn. It shouldn’t have to be this way. Adoptees are a key part of the adoption process (DUH). And yet, we are not key voices.
When an adoptee shares their experiences, it’s not about you. And if you think it is, you are part of the problem.