Each year as National Adoption Awareness Month (NAAM) approaches, a twinge of uneasiness begins to stir within me. The knowledge that another month in which adoptive parents continue to control the narrative stirs my stomach and leaves a sour taste in my mouth.
Adoptees have consistently been told our stories are invalid and our experiences are a result of our behavior that our discourse with our birth and adoptive families are a direct result of our ungratefulness.
I feel exhausted constantly trying to be heard, putting aside the verbal abuse from people who would rather stay ignorant than informed.
But I am a fighter. I do not give up and I know that each adoptee’s voice is vital to any hope of change. So here I am on a month that I usually dread, choosing to use my voice to advocate with fervor and perseverance for past, present and future adoptees.
To prospective adoptive parents:
Listen to adoptees. Validate our experiences and uphold them with dignity and respect without disregarding an adoptee’s experience by minimization or dismissal. We have the most life experience and we have the most knowledge because we have lived a majority, if not all, of our lives as adoptees. This make us true experts. Our existence will give you insight to the real and raw side of adoption, one that too often gets hidden and ignored. Will you take the step to reach out, research and listen? Will you do so for the sake of your future adopted children?
To birth parents:
Listen to adoptees. Many of us were told lies about you growing up; stories that painted you as unloving, harmful and horrible people. Navigating through our own feelings of loss and abandonment mixed with sorting out truth from lies provides us with a lot of emotion. Will you have patience with us when we ask questions that may come from a place of hurt or anger? Will you listen as we try to understand and be understood?
Keep talking. Use your voice and tell your story, supporting fellow adoptees as they do the same. Your experiences are valid and your stories are influential. Together we can create a choir of voices, creating a sound that cannot be ignored.
Here’s to NAAM, I’m ready, let’s go.