Today I quit two online adoption groups. The quitting of one has been a long time coming. Microaggression after microagression after macroaggression. It was only a matter of time before I left. The other was a surprise. It was a birth mom support group. I loved having other moms like me to talk to. Obviously no one’s story is exactly the same, but it was nice knowing there was this group of women who “get it” and I don’t have to explain or educate them about what it’s like to be a mom like me.
Last night someone in that group said something that bothered me and I decided to let it go. To not debate or question to just pretend it hadn’t happened.
This morning I saw it again and it still bothered me. In fact the more I thought about it the more it bothered me. I wasn’t offended, I wasn’t hurt, but I couldn’t just let it go.
That something was comparing open adoption to slavery.
Open adoption = slavery for the mother.
if you say or do anything that causes you to fall out of graces, or you disagree, or open your mouth with any kind of opinion, you run the risk of the adoption closing.
Can’t be authentic.
The AP’s hold your most valuable asset, your offspring.
As both a Black woman and a mother who relinquished and is living open adoption I object to this metaphor. I consider it unnecessarily hyperbolic and in the same sphere as those who refer to abortion as genocide or anyone they disagree with as Hitler. It diminishes any chance for productive conversation about the very real flaws present in adoption.
However, responses to this criticism were of two varieties:
- She’s too sensitive so lets not discuss this
- yes it is it’s exactly like slavery
Well, thats not entirely true there was one person who reframed it as emotional slavery, but she was shouted down.
I was asked “How is it not like slavery” however as I was about to respond I was met by the ultimate one two punch in whitesplaining:
- My black friends says
- But not all slaves are/were black
Nope. I’m done. I’m not going to get into a “discussion”, where an acceptable response is “but my Black friend” not going to do it. I identified it as a racist tactic and I left the group.
However, I never did get to answer the question so I’m doing so here.
How is Open Adoption not Slavery?
Coercion happens. State initiated TPR happens unfairly. Both these things happen, they happen more often than most want to admit. But that is not the same as slavery.
Yes there is a power differential. Adoptive parents are the gatekeepers to the children we love until they grow able to have independent relationships. Some adoptive parents use that power in controlling and unfair ways. Some adoptive parents go back on their agreements. But that is not the same as slavery.
If a first parent feels they must walk on eggshells, put up a facade, or pretend to be someone they aren’t to maintain their open adoption that is wrong. It is a bad match. It is bad communication. It might be lack of education and commitment on the part of the adoptive parents. But that is not the same a slavery.
Slavery reduces people to property (which ironically enough this person did by referring to our children as assets) and removes their humanity. Slavery is never ok. There is no good way to practice slavery.
Open adoption describes the relationship of people. Open adoption can be ok. While it is not perfect it can be practiced in good ways.
There are no reforms that could make slavery good. There are reforms that could make open adoption good.
Open Adoption is not slavery.
Let’s let go of the hyperbole and focus on reform.
Had the person asserted that some adoptees feel there are parallels or referred to the child trafficking that occurs in some types of adoption or even accepted the reframe of emotional slavery we’d’ve been having a very different conversation.
Also I don’t care what your Black friend has to say as far as I know we haven’t elected a spokesnegro we all are still entitled to our own points of view.