Monday, October 26, 2015

#FlipTheScript on National Adoption Month: Prompts for November 2015

 photo IA2_zpse3877726.png

Ready or not, here it comes. This Sunday, November 1, begins National Adoption Month.

National Adoption Month (NAM) was created to encourage adoption of those children in foster care who cannot return to their families of origin. However during this month, adoption agencies also relentlessly promote adoption of newborns as well as intercountry adoptions. Agencies, adoptive parents, and others call on us to celebrate adoption during November.

Rosita Gonzalez initiated the #FlipTheScript hashtag in 2014 as a way for adult adoptees to actively participate in National Adoption Month by offering a perspective from those most affected by adoption—voices that historically have been left out of discussions on adoption.

In preparation for NAM 2015, we have prepared a list of prompts to encourage adult adoptees to once again Flip the Script! We hope these daily topic suggestions will jump start your own ideas. Respond to the prompts directly or abstractly. Use them as written or revise them to better suit you. The point is for adult adoptees to talk about adoption from all our many and varied perspectives. The more diverse the responses, the better!

Use these prompts to inspire blog posts or articles or essays or poems. Record videos or songs if you prefer. Post a Facebook status or a couple of tweets if that's what you have time to do. Join the conversation in any way you can! We're looking forward to seeing what you come up with, and we will be sharing your responses on our social media channels throughout the month.

In order for your responses to be seen by the greatest number of people, we recommend tagging them with the hashtags #FlipTheScript and #NAM2015.

Adding any of the following hashtags will also increase visibility: #adoption, #adoptees, #adopteerights. The longer #NationalAdoptionMonth is also used frequently.

Some refer to November as National Adoption Awareness Month, so the hashtag #NAAM2015 is valid as well, however be aware that it's use is not as prevalent as the other choices listed above.

Prompts to #FlipTheScript on #NAM2015

Nov. 1, Sunday

Talk about what National Adoption Month means to you as an adoptee. What is missing from the traditional narrative promoted during each November? Why is it important that adoptees’ experiences and opinions are heard during NAM? What does it mean to you to Flip The Script on National Adoption Month?

Nov. 2, Monday

Talk about the “adoptee in the room” moment—that moment when you realize you are the only one in a space who can address a particular aspect of adoption experience, when you have to decide whether or not to speak up knowing that what you have to say may be confusing, unsettling, or triggering to others. Perhaps you have found yourself in this position at a work function, at a family gathering, or while with a group of friends. Or, you may have run into this situation in an online forum or on social media. Did you decide to speak or not, and why? If you did speak, what reactions or feedback did you receive?

Nov. 3, Tuesday

Talk about how truths, partial truths, and lies on your adoption documents have impacted your life and identity. Example of these include birth certificates, baptismal certificates, adoption agency records, orphanage records, court records, non-identifying information, naturalization/citizenship papers, passports, etc.

Alternatively, you may wish to talk about efforts to change laws regarding birth certificates, naturalization/citizenship, and adoption records to support civil rights for adoptees equal to those of non-adopted people.

Nov. 4, Wednesday

In response to the GOP effort to defund Planned Parenthood, the hashtag #ShoutYourAbortion was created to be a space where women could explain why they chose to have abortions. Shortly thereafter, the hashtag #ShoutYourAdoption was created as a retort, to posit adoption as a better alternative to abortion.

Talk about your reaction as an adoptee to the idea of adoption being pushed as an alternative to abortion. Whether you are pro-life, pro-choice, or somewhere in between, your opinion on this issue as an adopted person matters. Consider these questions, inspired by tweets at the #ShoutYourAdoption hashtag: Are you grateful you weren't aborted? How does being asked this question make you feel as an adopted person? Should adoptees be more grateful than non-adopted people that they weren't aborted? Did your birth mother consider aborting you? Is it fair to assume that a woman dealing with an unplanned pregnancy will consider abortion? Do you think legal abortion should have been an option for your birth mother? Is it fair to assume that if one hadn't been adopted, she would have been aborted? Is living as an adopted person preferable to never being born?

Nov. 5, Thursday

Talk about how your adoption has influenced your decisions in forming and/or raising a family of your own. Has being an adoptee hindered or helped you in finding a life partner and maintaining that relationship? How has your adoption affected your desire to conceive your own biological children? Have you considered or would you consider adopting a child? If you are a parent, how does your adoptee experience affect the way you raise your children? And on the flip side, if you’re in a committed relationship and/or are parenting, how have these things informed your experience as an adoptee or your view of adoption in general?

Nov. 6, Friday

For those who have searched for birth family, talk about the impetus that lead you to search, the emotions leading up to making contact, and the reactions of those family members you found.

For those who have been found by birth family, talk about your emotions upon being contacted and your response to the person who found you.

For those who have not searched nor have been found, talk about whether or not you feel you ever will search and the reasons for your choice.

Nov. 7, Saturday

Sometimes when adoptees speak truthfully about their adoption experience, they are called “angry adoptees” and their opinions are dismissed as being invalid.

If you have ever been labelled an “angry adoptee,” talk about why it’s okay to feel anger about some things that happen in adoption, how anger can be useful in adoption discourse, and why expression of anger or dissatisfaction with aspects of adoption should not result in being dismissed. Do you think it’s possible that an adoptee might get stuck in the anger, and if so, how can this be avoided?

If you’ve never been the “angry adoptee” or if you yourself wonder why some adoptees are so angry, talk about what you perceive as the differences between your view of adoption vs. the viewpoint of an “angry” adoptee. Do you think anger about certain aspects of adoption is ever warranted? Why or why not?

Nov. 8, Sunday

The Atlantic recently published an article titled “The Adoption Paradox” that cited a study claiming adoptive children have more behavior and attention problems at school than their non-adopted peers, despite having “better” parents. Adoptive parents were considered better because, according to the article, they tend to be “wealthier than other parents,” “better educated,” and “put more effort into raising their kids.”

Talk about the assumption that adoptive parents are not only better than their children’s birth parents, but also better parents than others who are raising their own biological children. Do you feel this is a generally accepted assumption? How does this societal view of adoptive parents affect your relationship with your own parents? Does it affect how you view yourself? Do you feel your adoptive parents did a better job than your birth parents would have in raising you? Do you feel your adoptive parents did a better job than other parents you know who raised their biological children? Do adoptive parents generally have an advantage over other parents, and if so, are adopted children better off because of this advantage?  

Nov. 9, Monday

Many people view adoption as the best solution to the world’s so-called “orphan crisis.” To this end, prospective adoptive parents routinely crowdfund in order to raise money to be able to adopt children from countries outside the U.S. Talk about your thoughts on the practice of asking for help in funding an adoption and/or your thoughts on adoption as the primary solution for children labelled as orphans. Do you think it’s ethical for prospective parents to crowdfund their adoptions? Why or why not? Do you believe there is an orphan crisis? Do you think intercountry adoption is the best solution for children outside the U.S. who have been designated as orphans?

Nov. 10, Tuesday

Many adoptees struggle with feeling they don’t belong in one way or another, for a multitude of reasons. Talk about a time when you’ve felt you didn’t belong, or felt less-than, due to being an adoptee. If you grew up in a family of a different race, talk about the moment you realized this difference and how this realization has impacted your view of yourself in the world. If you were adopted from another country or culture, talk about how you navigate between these communities. What is it about being adopted that makes you feel “other?” How has your sense of belonging evolved over the course of your life so far?

Nov. 11, Wednesday

Talk about adoptee communities and the challenges of speaking with each other in these communities.  Why are adoptee communities important? How have adoptee communities helped you? Can adoptees successfully support each other while expressing conflicting views on adoption? What difficulties have you personally encountered within adoptee communities? How do you navigate conversations in which your opinion or story isn’t one others are expecting to hear? How would you like to see adoptee communities function?

Nov. 12, Thursday

Adoption is everywhere—on TV, in movies and books, at work, at church, on t-shirts and bumper stickers. No matter where we go or what we do, we seem to run into references to adoption in every aspect of our lives. What strategies do you use to take care of yourself when you feel overwhelmed by adoption references? Talk about why random encounters with adoption can be triggering. Have you shared your reactions with those closest to you? Why or why not?

Nov. 13, Friday

Have you encountered misleading information about the adoption industry or about living as an adopted person, either in print, or on social media, or at church, or in a class? Talk about the importance of educating others on the reality of adoption. Debunk the fallacies you’ve heard by referencing documented facts and/or pointing to sources where one can learn the truth about adoption. What do you think is the biggest misconception about adoption?

Nov. 14, Saturday

For those who are in reunion with birth family members, talk about the rewards and the challenges of building and maintaining relationships with people related by biology but not by life experience. How do these relationships differ from those with your adoptive family members? Have you experienced the “reunion rollercoaster,” the wanting to be close and then pushing away that many describe? Are your relationships with your birth family members what you would like them to be? Knowing what you know now, would you do it all over again? What might you do differently if given a second chance? Has being in reunion made everything “better” in relation to your adoption? Are you pleased with how your adoptive and birth families relate to each other? Why or why not?

For those who are not in reunion with birth family members, what is your biggest fear about knowing your biological relatives? Is your relationship with your adoptive family a factor in your decision not to search? What obstacles are blocking you from knowing your birth family?

Nov. 15, Sunday

Talk about how your adoption experience has affected your spirituality. Has your experience as an adoptee influenced you to either join or leave a church or religion? Has a church’s stance on adoption either pulled you in or turned you off? Has your adoption experience impacted your belief in or relationship to a higher power? How can spiritual leaders better support adoptees?

Nov. 16, Monday

Are you happy you were adopted? Do you believe you ended up where you were meant to be? Why or why not?

Nov. 17, Tuesday

Talk about your thoughts on the adoption industry. Do you think adoption agencies operate in a way that promotes the best possible outcome for adoptees? What changes, if any, would you like to see adoption agencies make in how they operate? Do you think a decrease in the number of adoptions is or would be a bad thing? Do you think the cost to adopt is appropriate?

Nov. 18, Wednesday

Nancy Verrier coined the term “primal wound” to describe the pain infants and very young children experience when they are permanently separated from their biological mothers. Others have said that some adopted children may suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). A recent study also found that adopted people are more likely to attempt suicide.

Talk about your thoughts on trauma as it relates to adoption. Do you believe adopted children suffer a primal wound? Have you struggled with anxiety, depression, or other issues as a result of your adoption? Do you think trauma in adoption can be avoided, and if so, how? If you have ever sought counseling for issues related to your adoption, talk about how that experience went for you. Did you have difficulty finding a qualified therapist? Did you find therapy helpful? How can counselors and therapists better support adoptees?

Nov. 19, Thursday

Talk about your understanding of why you were relinquished for adoption by your birth family and/or why you were adopted by the family that raised you. Do you know the whole story of your birth, relinquishment, and adoption? Do you feel it was necessary that you were separated from your birth family? Do you feel your birth parents received appropriate counseling and support prior to relinquishing you? Do you feel that members of your extended birth family were allowed appropriate input in your relinquishment? Do you feel your adoptive parents had the best intentions in seeking to adopt a child? Do you feel your adoptive parents were appropriately prepared and received the right amount of education/advise/training prior to adopting?

Nov. 20, Friday

Positive Adoption Language (PAL) and Respectful AdoptionLanguage (RAL) are two sets of vocabulary touted as being appropriate, non-offensive terminology to use when speaking about adoption.

Talk about whether or not you agree with the appropriateness of specific terms on either list from an adoptee perspective. Do you feel the vocabulary proposed is respectful of adoptees? Do you have any alternate suggestions for specific terms on either list? How important are the words we choose to speak about adoption? Are there other terms not on these lists that you either wish were used more or wish everyone would stop saying?

Nov. 21, Saturday

November 21 is designated as National Adoption Day to raise awareness of the more than 100,000 children in foster care who are in need of a permanent home.

If you were once a foster child or once lived in an orphange, talk about your experience with either foster care, orphanage care, or adoption.

For everyone, when (if ever) do you think permanent adoption is the best option for a child in foster care or an orphanage? Do you think too many children are placed in foster care/orphanges, and if so, why do you think this is? Do you feel there will always be a need for adoption for some children. Why or why not? What would you like to see change in terms of helping children in foster care/orphanages find permanent homes?

Nov. 22, Sunday

Talk about your relationship with your adoptive family. Have you always known you were adopted? Do you feel a strong bond with your adoptive parents? How has your relationship with your adoptive parents evolved over the years? How open about adoption are you able to be with your adoptive parents? Do you relate well with your adoptive siblings, if you have any? Do you feel accepted by your extended adoptive family? Do you feel you belong in your adoptive family? What, if anything, do you wish your adoptive parents or other adoptive family members would do differently in order to better support you?

Nov. 23, Monday

If you are an intercountry or transracial adoptee, talk about how you view yourself in relation to your families, your friends and peers, and the community you either grew up in or live in now. If you were adopted from a country outside the U.S., do you identify as an immigrant? Where/how do you find resources to fill the gaps in your cultural identity formation?

If you were raised by same-sex adoptive parents, talk about your experience in relation to your relatives, friends, and peers who did not share this family structure. What challenges have you faced navigating in a society that is only beginning to come to terms with homosexuality? How has the makeup of your adoptive family affected your own identity formation?

If none of the above scenarios apply to you, talk about the role of ancestry and culture in your life as an adoptee. Did you grow up knowing your biological ancestry? Were you raised with different cultural traditions than you might have been if you weren’t adopted, and how has this affected your identity formation? Is your biological genealogy important to you?

Nov. 24, Tuesday

Is there a message related to your adoption that you would like to send to someone in your life, if only you knew it would be well-received? Maybe there is something you would like to say to your birth mother or your adoptive father, or a sibling, or the foster family you lived with as a toddler. Perhaps you wish you could send a dispatch to your younger self. Write or record your secret message. No need to share it if don’t want to. 

Nov. 25, Wednesday

If you were named by your birth mother, are you happy with the decision your adoptive parents made as to whether or not to keep your given name? Why or why not?

If you were not named by your birth mother or don’t know whether or not she named you, do you wish you were named by her? Why or why not?

Would you ever consider changing your name to incorporate some part of your original birth name or another name from your birth family? Why or why not?

Nov. 26, Thursday  (Thanksgiving)

We are thankful for the birth parents, adoptive parents, relatives, friends, and professionals who support #FlipTheScript as adoptee allies. Talk about what it means to you as an adoptee to have an ally in adoption. How does a true ally behave? What should an ally avoid doing? How would you like to see allies interact in adoptee communities? Is there a time when an ally should step aside or be silent? Is there a specific time when you wish an ally would jump in?

Nov. 27, Friday

What are your go-to resources for information on and support of adoptee concerns? Share the websites, magazines, books, movies, songs, artists, etc. that are most meaningful to you and that you feel would benefit fellow adoptees on their journeys. Is there something you wish someone would make that just isn’t out there? 

Nov. 28, Saturday

What aspect of adoptee experience is not discussed enough in your opinion? Talk about it today!

Nov. 29, Sunday

How has your viewpoint about your own adoption and about adoption in general evolved over the course of your life? If you’re a younger adult, do you think about your adoption more or less now than you did as a child? Do you talk about adoption more or less often? If you’re an older adult, are you more or less content now with your adoption than you were as a young adult? Do you find yourself wanting to learn more about adoption in general, wishing more often that you could get away from everything  adoption-related, or perhaps not thinking so much about adoption at all? How are your opinions about adoption different now, and what has most influenced your thinking?

Nov. 30, Monday

Talk about your experience during this National Adoption Month. How has this month gone for you vs. previous years? Did anything make you feel overwhelmed or triggered? What stood out for you as being especially meaningful this year? What would you like to see adoptees do in future years during NAM? What sort of adoptee conversations or support would you like to see continue throughout the year?