When I was young, my mother would call me "Frank." Not because that was my name, of course, and she wouldn't have given that name to me even if I'd been born a boy instead of a girl. It was her way of acknowledging the fact that I had a habit of speaking my mind regardless of circumstance. She tried hard to teach me to be polite and now that I'm an adult, I do try to be more aware of the consequences of making inappropriate comments at inappropriate times. I think my inner filter has become better with most topics.
However, when it comes to adoption, I have no filter. Whether it's discussing my daughter's relinquishment and the open adoption I now live or arguing terminology or policy questions, my filter has completely disappeared. I've not yet figured out if this is a good or a bad thing. I do know that this habit has gotten me into "trouble" on several occasions. If I see an opportunity for terminology education, I take it.
I've taken opportunities for terminology education in the open adoption groups I participate in on Facebook. If the group moderators post a "fan question" and that person uses questionable terminology, I try to address both the question and offer a solution for better terminology. I also address questionable terminology used by people answering the question as well. I'll give you an example. I don't remember the question, but an adoptive parent answered the question I referenced and in the process used the term "our birthmom" to refer to her child's birthmom. In the process of answering the original question, I addressed that particular parent and told her that birthmoms should only be "possessed" by the child to whom they gave birth. Any other "possession" is demeaning. I explained a bit more than that and of course I said that I assumed that they didn't mean to be possessive or demeaning.
Apparently a few times my responses have inspired other people reading the questions and my responses to diverge from the original questions and agree with my requests for better terminology usages. I have group notifications turned off completely, so unless someone tags me in their response or specifically "likes" my comment I usually don't pay attention to subsequent comments on the same post, which is why I used "apparently" at the beginning of this paragraph. It's opened up so much discussion on just the terminology issue that the comments that don't have anything to do with the original comment have been deleted by the group moderator. Part of me understands why this was done, but I also think that if it gives an opportunity for discussion and perhaps ultimately a terminology change then that's a good thing.
I don't limit my being vocal about needed terminology and policy changes as well as changes in attitudes surrounding adoption to adoption-related groups on Facebook. For example, the post I published earlier this week was partially inspired by a comment on a post my best friend wrote on her Facebook wall. As well as partially addressing the comment in my blog post, I also responded to the person that made the comment on my best friend's wall post. The person that made the comment I found mildly offensive actually found my blog post and responded in the comments section. I did not delete the comment so feel free to scroll through the post to find the comment. I didn't write the post in response to her comment specifically, though I've done that before.
So why do I seem to turn off my filter for adoption and nothing else? I don't turn it off because I believe voices for change are important. I hope I'm one of many positive voices for change. Though adoptive parents have more power to speak out and be heard than birth parents do, this knowledge will not stop me from speaking out everywhere I can. Like I said in my post long ago, I refuse to be a quiet birth mom. I will not disappear and I will not add fuel to the fire that birth parents are not important by refusing to speak out. I don't believe that I'm an all-encompassing authority on all things adoption, as the person who left the comment on Monday's post implied. However, I also strongly believe that it's not the "experts" who have no practical experience with adoption that have the strongest voice. This is not an implication that adoption experts such as people who work in the field are not valued. But those of us who are living in adoption every day, whether they're birth parents, adoptees, or adoptive parents, have the strongest voice of all. We are all experts in our own adoption stories and our voices and perspectives need to be heard!
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