Sunday, September 29, 2013

Roundtable on Adoption for In These Times Magazine

Yesterday, I participated in a roundtable discussion about adoption, for In These Times social justice magazine, alongside Megan from the National Council for Adoption and birthmother Claudia from Musings of the Lame. (I'll post a link to the transcript online when it's posted.)

Obviously, we represented various sides of the "debates" on adoption--I was the adoptee voice, Claudia, who has written extensively about the adoption industry, represented a birthmother voice, and Megan represented a more "pro-adoption" voice.

With Claudia regularly describing, on her blog, the adoption industry primarily as a business exploiting adoptive parents because they need their money, and with Megan on the other side with NCA which describes the Veronica Brown case as a "victory for adoption" on its home page, I wondered,

Would we argue? Spar words over the phone?

I must confess that I was nervous about discussing adoption with the NCA rep on the line. Afraid of that mainstream voice that touts adoption as the "perfect solution" for parents who want a child and for birthmothers whose best choice is undoubtedly to relinquish their children. The voice that has so much power, that gets heard more than other voices and--I believe--can skew the public view of adoption. Especially with the fresh news about Veronica Brown being forcibly removed from her father--who risked getting shot if he resisted the removal--to live with a family whose unethical adoption has been upheld by the courts in South Carolina (the moneyed, White, well-connected side wins again! What a surprise!)

We talked about international adoption, the problems within it, domestic adoption and its problems, birth certificate legislation, open adoption, and the implications of race in adoption. Lots about birthfathers and how they are often marginalized adoption equations. (Of course, about the Veronica Brown case too.)

What commenced was a nuanced, respectful discussion. Downright pleasant. We voiced our concerns about adoption, our personal experiences, our particular viewpoints. No arguments. I didn't even hear heavy breathing or low-frequency grumbles.

Of course, we all agreed that the "best interests of the child" and "the right to a safe, long-term family" is what we want for all children. We just disagree about how that should be done, what that looks like.

If anything, the conversation gave me some hope about the future, that all this work we're doing communicating how we feel as adoptees is being heard. Not enough, but still, it is being heard by some. And there are willing parties on the other side who are willing to engage with us.

Congress should take a lesson from us!