When I used to volunteer for La Leche League, we were told to tread carefully when it came to appearing as though we were experts. Our role, ideally, was to facilitate a safe place where mom’s who were breastfeeding could ask questions and connect with other Mother’s. We were not there to tell a woman she was wrong; our role was to offer information, and ask questions that would allow the woman to come to the decision that was best for her and her child, on her own. There were times when I struggled with this concept. As I continued to volunteer, my knowledge became more expansive and often I knew what the issue was before a mother even stopped talking. However, the amazing transformation that occurred when a mother was able to draw to that same answer, on her own, and then follow through on that decision was far more rewarding. It enabled her to be confident in her decision making for her child, and for herself.
I learned quickly, from mistakes, and from observing the discussions at meetings, that there was an incredibly fine line between sharing your information and becoming that so-called “expert” who had all the answers.
How does this apply to the adoption world?
There seems to be a lot of voices within the adoption world that have appointed themselves as the spokespersons. For instance, Catelyn and Tyler, along with their unethical agency. You’ll often find them exclaiming that they are the experts for adoption, proudly. They are in classrooms boasting about adoption and it’s miracle. They are on the news, on our TV’s. We are not them. They are not the face of adoption.
On the other side of the spectrum, the” anti-adoption” side, you have the exact behavior occurring. They ask for money, they share articles that profess to be a collective voice, pretending as though they speak for all of us, and they do not. Like Catelyn and Tyler, you’ll see them in the news, in articles, speaking to the press, acting as though they are an expert. They are not the face of adoption.
The double edged sword of this vast internet is that anyone can claim they are the expert, or the go to person in their “field”. Unfortunately, people buy whatever they read, or what people tell them. On the other hand, the internet can be this powerful tool where we can share our individual truths, because we all know how vulnerable it makes us to share this part of ourselves.
The only expert on your adoption is you. That’s right, none of these so-called experts, the ones who have blogs that attract hundreds of comments, or the ones who are being interviewed on TV, or in articles, can speak for you. They can imply that they speak for all of us, but it’s not the truth. Wherever you are in your life, or in this process, you know what you are feeling right now, you know what you think, or maybe you don’t. Either way you are capable of speaking for you. In a year, in a day, or in a week, your feelings could change; That’s okay, you’ll still be the expert of your story.
It’s hard to distinguish the difference between the above mentioned “experts”. Both are attempting to convince others of something that isn’t necessarily true. In the end, they are both essentially, hoping to sway the other side to think like them, coercing them, if you will, into making a decision based on precepts that are not facts, likely based on opinions, or experiences that do not belong to the decider.
There are no experts in adoption. If you are a woman who is unexpectedly pregnant, be cautious of anyone who is telling you that adoption is your only answer. Similarly, be just as hesitant of anyone who is telling you that parenting is your only answer. If you take an option away, the result is still the same: a coerced decision based on propaganda from either side. This example applies to all sides of the adoption constellation- be wary of anyone who is attempting to tell you that they have all the answers.
I’ve learned in adoption, there is no rhyme or reason to how it works, which means there is no right answer. What is going to work for me, isn’t going to work for the family over here, and so on. Again, we are the experts in our own adoption, full stop. This doesn’t mean that I don’t believe in adoption reform, or want to speak out about coercion in the adoption industry. It just means that I respect all of the voices, the sort of sisterhood/brotherhood that unites us in our similar but varying experiences.
To both sides of the coin, you don’t speak for me. You don’t speak for us. You speak for you, and it would be best if you started indicating that this is the case. I don’t want anyone to confuse me with your unethical, insulting tactics of getting ahead in the adoption world.
Exit stage right, if you could, please. The rest of us would like to share our stories without having to fight to have our voices heard over the egocentric noise you are making. Your comments get the hits, but they aren’t going to convince anyone but the choir. We don’t need the choir to be listening, we need the audience to listen. This goes for you too.
It’s our turn now.