At the risk of once again of turning my DMs into a raging dumpster fire, can we have a serious conversation about the trend of viral videos showing the moment a child is told they will be adopted? As an adoptee, I'm pretty taken aback when they appear in my feed
These videos are overwhelmingly made not by the adoptees themselves, but by the adoptive parents, & are most often shared (or even made) without the consent of the adoptee. It's packaging one of their most conflicted and emotional experiences for mass public consumption.
But even if a parent does ask permission? The power imbalance calls that consent into question. Adoptive parents hold the power to grant/deny stability, security, & a permanent family to that adoptee. It creates (albeit unintentionally in most cases) an undue pressure to consent.
There's a larger issue at play here though in considering that these videos often further the perception that adoptive parents are "such amazingly generous people to give that kind of gift" and that adoptees should be grateful to be "rescued" in this way.
These videos tend to follow the same script. We see the adoptee burst into grateful tears, thanking the adoptive parents over & over again. The adoptive parents are the heroes, the adoptees are the object of their charity.
Again, this isn't about INTENT. It doesn't matter if adoptive parents believe they have the best possible intentions here. The IMPACT is that these videos continue the pattern of elevating adoptive parents as saviors and portraying adoptees as recipients of their kindness.
When you caption these videos with how "heartwarming" and "beautiful" they are, it ignores that the tears you're watching are the culmination of so much trauma and pain.
A video of an adoptee sobbing b/c they finally have a chance at some kind of stability is like a video of a family sobbing in a courtroom as the person who murdered their loved one receives a guilty verdict: you wouldn't call that scene "heartwarming" or add cute music & captions
As an adoptee, I see a parent who would choose to film and then virally share this experience much like I see a person who films themselves giving a sandwich to a homeless person. It calls into question their motivations, and their respect for the value & humanity of the adoptee.
Consider this: if you saw a video that showed frail emaciated people starving in a humanitarian crisis, and saw aid workers ladling out meals, would you say to yourself "this is so uplifting. I *LOVE* seeing stories like this in my feed, they always warm my heart."
Or would you feel your heart cry for the injustice and pain the starving were experiencing? Would you focus on how to fix broken systems and correct the injustices that cause this pain in the first place?
The same should be true when we talk about adoption. Saying "I just LOVE stories of adoption, they are my favorite" is exactly like saying "my favorite weddings are the ones where the brides first husband was killed in a car accident, its just so beautifully redemptive!"
Adoption is always rooted in pain, trauma, and loss. Correct narratives that minimize that reality. Resist casting #adoptees as recipients of charity or underserved generosity. Elevate #adoptee voices and listen to their experiences. Rebalance the #adoption conversation.
And please, stop making and sharing these videos.
PS: The amazing @ShannonDingle & I will be appearing on the @TwistedSisterds podcast this fall to tackle a variety of issues around adoption, especially as in regards to white Christians. Feel free to drop me a DM if you have a specific question or issue you'd like me to address.
And just to drive the point home, guess what just appeared AGAIN in my Twitter feed, with the most painfully reductionist and inappropriate caption I've seen yet?

A key follow up thought to add today:

It's important to recognize that this moment of finding out the adoption *will* be happening for sure, it's often framed as the first step towards healing the trauma, the first piece of fixing the loss. In reality,
This moment *IS* loss for the adoptee. It's the first moment where any hope of reunification is gone forever. It's the first moment where what's *BEST,* having a healthy & intact family of origin, is an option officially taken off the table for good.

That moment IS trauma.
Is there joy, gratitude, or even relief there as well? There can be, but that moment is never PURELY good news. It brings a new wave of loss, & that's key to reframing how we view this. You're watching the moment an adoptee is being told they will never have the *greatest* good.
That's the most uncomfortable truth of them all: adoption is never the BEST case scenario. It can be the best of the options that are left available in someone's specific situation, but that wont ever make it better or even as good as having a healthy & intact family of origin.

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