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Posts tagged ‘Being Black’

Open Adoption Is Not Slavery

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.

Slavery.

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:

  1. She’s too sensitive so lets not discuss this
  2. 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:

  1. My black friends says
  2. 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.

 

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Sometimes It’s Hard

Sometimes it’s hard being a Black* Chick married to a White Guy.  Being a six hour plane ride from my family and only a 45 minute from his makes it harder.  We spend a lot of time with them which only increases the amount of time I spend in soley white spaces.  White, conservative, Christian spaces. It takes a lot of energy to be the right kind of me for that. I always end the evening drained. I don’t say this to play the martyr. I LOVE my sister-in-law even if she was born in the 90s and I have to exclaim “WHY ARE YOU SO YOUNG” way too often when she doesn’t immediately understand my pop culture references.

But sometimes, just sometimes, I wish I had (more) Black friends.

School is a bit more diverse, but there are no other Black social work doctoral students. Chinese, Korean, Japanese, White, Indian (from India), Mexican, Latino American but I’m the only Black. It’s great to be around such diversity the international components and perspectives are great.

But I wish I had (more) Black friends.

I wish I could talk about white privilege without having to qualify it and jump to intersectionality to quell the “but I’m not as privileged as…” comments. I wish I could talk mention racism without having to immediately apologize.

I’m tired of conversations like the one I had yesterday.

“I’m not saying he’s a racist I’m saying what he said was racist.”

“lets say…condescending…or problematic…”

“uhhh it was racist”

“thats not helpful”

I wish I had Black friends.

I want to go see Dear White People. TeacherMan admits he thinks it may make him uncomfortable**. I know how that feels. I don’t want to be the cause of that so I told him I’d go see it alone. This upsets him.

I wish I had Black friends.

*I used to use the term Black-ish, but now thats a tv show. so yeah.

**Not the word he used but I can’t remember the exact word so close enough.