Sunday, November 16, 2014

What #FlipTheScript Means to Me: Why This November Is Like No Other

#FlipTheScript is an idea that became a conversation and then a movement. It is one of the most empowering things I've experienced since becoming vocal in the adoption community. For the past few years, I've watched adoptees struggle through November, attempting to raise our voices against the deafening din of celebration that National Adoption Month has become (its original purpose of promoting adoption from foster care overshadowed by the widespread glorification of all forms of adoption). Meanwhile, we consoled each other in private adoptee-only spaces. As the party raged on, we came together to support each other through the month-long oversimplification of our complex lives. We struggled together with assumptions that were made about us (with no one seeming to really want to hear our side of things) and with the lack of acknowledgment of our pain and loss. November was a month-long festival of triggers, and we did what we could to get through it.

This year feels different. There has been a filma New York Times article, and a string of #flipthescript tweets that make my heart sing. I've often said that adoptees don't speak with one voice but together we form a chorus. We are now past the halfway mark of this year's National Adoption Month, and the chorus is going strong, our voices rising up with increasing volume and confidence. I'm hearing the familiar voices of long-time adoptee activists and discovering new-to-me voices who have just joined in or who have been making noise, unbeknownst to me, in other arenas.

Are we being heard by everyone? Have we managed to shift the entire dialogue? No, not yet. The script we are attempted to flip is deeply embedded in our culture. It has the backing of industry dollars and has been around for decades. The assumption that adoption is a wholly benevolent and beautiful thing and that adoptees are lucky and grateful is so prevalent that most people in the broader society have probably never even thought to question it.

But this year, for the first time, I am more aware of my own voice rising up through my vocal chords and of the voices of my fellow adoptee chorus members standing with me than I am of the din "out there." And that's a pretty powerful thing.

Rebecca Hawkes is an adoptee by way of baby-scoop-era infant adoption and a parent by way of birth, adoption, and foster care. She blogs about adoption, family, and other matters at Sea Glass & Other Fragments and The Thriving Child. Her work has also appeared at Adoption Voices Magazine, BlogHer, the Huffington Post, and Brain,Child magazine, and in the anthologies Lost Daughters: Writing Adoption From a Place of Empowerment and Peace,Adoption Reunion in the Social Media Age, and Adoption Therapy: Perspectives from Clients and Clinicians on Processing and Healing Post-Adoption Issues. She lives in Western Massachusetts with her husband, her three daughters, and a dog named Buddy.