Wednesday, September 10, 2014

"Blended" is Clueless

This is NOT a picture from the Blended photo series
Naturally, adoption in the media captures my attention, this post certainly drew me in...

'Blended' Photo Series Captures The Unconditional Love Between An Adopted Child And His Family

The pictures are certainly beautiful. The baby is adorable. The adoptive family looks like a happy family. I can almost understand why they thought this was a good thing to document and put out into the world. But, there are just so many things that are so wrong here. 

First of all there's the title about Unconditional Love. Since it was a story about a baby being adopted, I wondered why that was part of the title. It should be assumed - parents should have unconditional love for their child, right? Then we see that it is a black baby adopted by a white family. OH! Now we get it - the white people have rescued the black baby and are willing to love him even though he's different. Cue the cheers and the comments about how love is colorblind. 

But, what strikes me most is how this adoption, and the depiction of adoption in general, is focused on the adoptive family. The focus is the joy of the adoptive family and not the experience of the baby. How did we become a society where the desire to have a family overrides the needs of the child who needs a family? How did we decide that a baby losing its original family is something to celebrate? Why is adoption only about the adoptive parents? 

There were commenters who got it, who called out that what the pictures don't show is the incredible loss that took place so that this adoption could happen. There was the predictable back-and-forth that ensued. A few people got it. Very few. But the majority were upbeat comments about how wonderful this was. That we are still in a place in our society that adoption is paraded about as a beautiful thing is striking in its ignorance. 

What I want to talk about is the adoptee in these pictures, the one who doesn't have a voice, who can't make a comment. The post explains that the photo series is a documentary of the "lucky" baby who was welcomed into their family, as well as the agonizing wait and then elation of the adoption. They say they show the child's adoption journey. Apparently, to them, the journey of his life begins not when he is born, but when he is adopted. 

I want to tell you what I saw in the pictures. The baby is clueless to the pictures, unaware of the post sending pictures of him out into the world. He is not a willing participant, he is made more a prop than a person. 

In a way these pictures capture the structure of adoption - all we are shown is the joy of the adoptive family, not the tragedy that took place. What I would like to see is a photo series that shows what adoption really looks like, with all the members involved, all the emotion, all of the experience. That would be something newsworthy. 

This is NOT a picture from the Blended photo series