1)I have no sympathy for the adoptive parents, child trafficking and kidnapping has been going on for years in regard to international adoption, if they were so desperate for somebody else s child that they didn’t want to acknowledge that then that’s their fault

2)I somehow think that if a large number of white western middle class kids had been fraudulently removed from their families the perpetrators (i.e the adoption agency) would have gone to prison for a very long time

I don’t talk about my feelings around adoption much off line, when I do its only to very close friends who I trust and who I know understand where I’m coming from. Online? I talk about it loads and the way people react to it is…odd. people get so angry, circling the wagons type angry, protect the status quo at all costs type angry that anger frightens me, even online, It has an edge to it. A “we will do anything to shut you up” edge. It’s that anger that people use to tell me I’m crazy, illogical, irrational, stupid, evil, because of the way I think about adoption. This is often people who have nothing to do with adoption and as well as finding it frightening I find it really perplexing.

At first I thought it was just the adoption issue that was making them angry but critiquing adoption also entails on some level a critique of the nuclear family and it seems that people really, really can’t cope with that

we have been fed the lie that the way white middle class westerners do family, two parents and one or more children pretty much in isolation is the best, the healthiest, often the only way to do family, that other ways of doing family are wrong, immoral, unenlightened. From where I’m standing this is actually a terrible way to do family, with the best will in the world two adults bringing up one or more children on their own is going to cause unnecessary, unhealthy stress. Family the way we do it or the way we are supposed to do it doesn’t work. It creates incredibly dysfunctional people who then go on to create and raise more dysfunctional people

yet people are so invested in this damaging dysfunctional way of running society that it doesn’t occur to them ever that their might be other options and they get really angry about how I “want babies to be abandoned or to grow up in abusive environments” etc etc. and if you say “well there are other options” they invariably reply with “no there aren’t” or “well what are they then?” as if you are lying. Things people have said to me include

Yeah exactly! WHAT DO THEY DO WITH ALL THE KIDS? force parents who don’t want them to take care of them? what if their parent’s are dead? HOW IS IT EVEN AN ISSUE?

of all, it’s just plain fucking delusional to think that we will ever live in a world where adoption is not needed. JFC, there are just some situations where there are no other options

So please tell me! If you are 100% anti-adoption, where will the abused children go? Or if their parents died, and there are no family members that can take them (financial reasons, emotional reasons, whatever).Tell me, what then?

It just totally startles me that people cant take one step sideways out of the box to think about the other options , see that families are not just made up of parents and children but cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents, all who could support the parents in bringing up the children and if things are really desperate take the children into their homes while the parents sort their lives out. That people have friends and neighbours who could also support them.

In fact if there was Less emphasis on how this peculiar insular nuclear family ideal was the right way to do things and more acknowledgment that its okay for family and friends to take part in raising a child a lot less children would need to be taken from their parents in the first place because the reduction of stress and the presence of other nurturers would massively reduce incidences of abuse and neglect, and would cushion the effects of poverty

I read the first essay: A Question of Class in Dorothy Allisons Skin about five times and every single time I read it I cried. it bought home some sharp hard truths about the fact that my adoptive parents have no idea who their children are or where they come from.

I am not middle class, I have never been middle class but I was colonised by the middle class, I was taught that I was middle class, that my people were middle class, that I was exactly the same as all the other middle class kids around me. i have had advantages by being adopted into the middle class, but not as many as you would think, I still spent my early twenties crazy, broke and homeless i still don’t really get the rules of middle class behaviour and sensibilities and I still fuck up royally all the time.

I grew up in a really affluent town in the south of England amongst good schools and university educated adults, but that’s not who I am, that’s not where I come from. I wasn’t even born in to the working class, I come from the underclass, the chaotic poor who have given up, who have no where left to turn.

Nobody ever made connections or taught me to make connections between poverty, lack of education, mental heath issues and having all your children taken into care. I was taught that poverty was a personal failing. My adoptive mother would often scream at me or one of my brothers “Do you want to end up living in a council house?” as if that’s the worse thing that could possibly happen, as if my people, my blood line for generations back hadn’t lived in council houses.

And there were things we were expected to know, things good, well behaved, well bought up middle class kids knew, that we couldn’t possibly have known, the three times table, the fact you don’t talk about money, the words to silent night, as if I hadn’t spent the first six years of my life in the east end of London not being fed or educated properly

Alison writes:

I understood that we were the bad poor: men who drank and couldn’t keep a job; women, invariably pregnant before marriage, who quickly became worn, fat, and old from working too many hours and bearing too many children; and children with runny noses, watery eyes, and the wrong attitudes. My cousins quit school, stole cars, used drugs, and took dead-end jobs pumping gas or waiting tables. We were not noble, not grateful, not even hopeful. We knew ourselves despised. My family was ashamed of being poor, of feeling hopeless. What was there to work for, to save money for, to fight for or struggle against? We had generations before us to teach us that nothing ever changed, and that those who did try to escape failed.

And I understand that, my father was an alcoholic, him and and my brothers father ended up in prison, my other siblings fathers disappeared, half my sisters got pregnant as teenagers and all that goes back generation after generation, nobody was educated and if they worked they did mind numbing soul destroying jobs. And so many of them died young or disappeared

I grew up in a world where girls of the class I was born into are seen as slutty, promiscuous, are more likely to be teenage mothers, and boys of the class I was born into were expected to be vandals, layabouts, criminals. so we were policed heavily, I was screamed at for being cheap, provocative, obscene, flirtatious, and my brothers were regularly forced to watch a video that talked about how bad prison was, because despite all that babbling about nurture over nature my adoptive parents and their educated middle class friends still believed that the bad blood had a chance of winning through.

My mother, the woman who gave birth to me got pregnant with my sister at 15 and in the environment I grew up in that was seen as a personal failure too, there was no understanding, no critique of the fact that there are clear understandable reasons why women of her social class who lived with intergenerational poverty, mental health issues and lack of education would get pregnant very young

and now I have this whole web of class issues that can’t be untangled, there is so much dissonance in the way I relate to class. I am ashamed that I come from generations of poverty, embarrassed that my sister cant behave more middle class like in front of my adoptive parents, and angry that I got told for such a long time that where i come from was defective, wrong and I should automatically be able to become middle class despite the experience of my formative years,

In the process of survival and struggle we have to learn to love ourselves as much as we love the causes we fight for

Pratibha Parmar

The week before Easter I came to a screeching halt, my body just totally rebelled, said in no uncertain terms “stop, no more, I need a rest” I’d been pushing myself way too hard and not building in down time or time to nurture myself, time to weave myself together. I work in two youth projects, one of which is extremely hard work and has very challenging kids, one which is relatively new so is taking a lot of planning, I’m training to be a brownie leader, I’m heavily involved in my church community and I am involved in another community building project which is an off shoot of the church but is purposefully secular so all members of the local community feel able to get involved with it, and I have several other possible community projects that I’d like to launch percolating round my brain. i love what I do, I get a hell of a kick out of it and there is often nothing I would rather be doing.

But I can’t do everything, or I can’t do everything all the time, until last week I was out every night of the week at work or meetings, which gives me no evenings for seeing or talking to friends, which makes me feel I’m at full tilt all the time. I wasn’t switching my brain off properly, giving myself time to do things that I knew would recharge me, that had nothing to do with community issues or activism.

We can only do what we can and I suspect that many of us who care about community weaving, who care about activism, about making the world better for others and ourselves actually have less energy to give than most. I suspect the reason we care the way we do is because we have been wounded by the shape the world is, we have been caught in the cross fire just because of who we are. I live with complex post traumatic stress disorder, depression and I’m non neurotypical so I’m a definite spoon counter and it’s really important to me that I do use a lot of those spoons in making the world a better place but I have to remember to keep enough back for me, so I can nurture myself, can look after myself.

Community weaving is important because people matter and those of us involved in community weaving are not, or shouldn’t be outside of the communities we are weaving, we should be part of them and so we matter too.

As a woman, as an adoptee, I’ve received messages all my life that my purpose is to service other people, to put other peoples needs and feelings before my own and balancing my own needs with both these lifelong messages and my passion for community is not always easy, I often feel guilty taking time out for myself and even when i do have down time I often waste it because I don’t feel I deserve to look after myself. I’m working on those self worth issues but in the mean time just from a pragmatic view point looking after and nurturing myself makes sense because if I don’t refresh and recharge myself I can’t do my community weaving work.

Artem (Artyom) Saveliev/Artyom Justin Hansen’s adoptive mother decided she didn’t want him so put him on a plane back to Russia With him traveled a letter that read

The fact that the child has phsycological difficulties is disputed by Russia’s Ombudsman for Children’s rights,Pavel Astakhov. According to NIKTO NE ZABYT/Nobody Is Forgotten

Astakhov, barely containing his disgust, told RT (video, not print) that Artem’s orphanage records indicate he had no health or psychological problems and was “normal” when he left Russia.

but even if it were true that he had psychological issues that his adopter wasn’t aware of does that justify sending him back? I don’t think so and if it does dosentt that tumble down the lie that adoptive children are “as born to” and “just the same as if they were biological”? Because how many parents of biological children disown their children when it turns out they have disabilities or mental heath issues? I’m sure it must happen sometimes but with adoptees it happens frequently: this product is defective, send it back, and very often when the adoptee is acting out in completely understandable ways that are logical reactions to abandonment, institutionalisation and attachment issues.

Did the poor kid even know what was happening? did he know he was being abandoned again? What did they tell him? Did they tell him that they didn’t want him anymore? That he wasnt good enough, that sorry I know we promised to be a “forever family” but we changed our minds?

Acording to the The Guardian

This had pushed russia to call for a freeze on international adoptions though Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said in televised remarks that the ministry would recommend that the U.S. and Russia hammer out an agreement before any new adoptions are allowed.

“We have taken the decision … to suggest a freeze on any adoptions to American families until Russia and the USA sign an international agreement” on the conditions for adoptions and the obligations of host families, Lavrov was quoted as saying.

Lavrov said the U.S. had refused to negotiate such an accord in the past but “the recent event was the last straw.”

Which is about bloody time considering how many internationaly adopted Russian adoptees die at the hands of their adoptive families

I think one of the reasons adoption damage goes so deep is because we have no one to acknowledge our pain. So very few people are willing to hear us, or willing to acknowledge our grief and loss our trauma. Nobody wants to know that adoption hurts and damages adoptees.

The very first time I said anything about how much I hated being adopted and how fucked up everything was was on a cross triad forum. It was an adoptee support section of the forum but I still got ripped to shreds, not only that but the thread with my words, with my pain, with the very first time I’d ever said “this is not okay, this is fucked up” got moved to the debate forum so they could discuss weather or not it was appropriate for me to blame adoption for my pain. Luckily another adoptee (Addie I think) scooped me up and took me to another forum that is the only adoptee centric, adoptee focused forum on the web where we can say our truths without getting shouted down for being bitter, angry, ungrateful or misguided (and I learned my lesson about “triad” forums and websites, they are always for adoptive parents really) If I hadn’t been pointed to the adoptee forum i don’t know what I would have done, I think I would have clammed up and never ever talked about my adoptee pain ever again, i don’t even want to think how many adoptees that happens to. We adoptees witness and support each others pain but I think to heal more deeply we need other witnesses, witnesses who have not been scarred by adoption, witnesses who can say “I haven’t been through what you’ve been through but I can see and understand how damaging it was”

In my off line life although all my friends know I’m adopted I don’t usually talk about my feelings around it much at all because even most people who love me, care about me, don’t get it, because people do refuse to witness my pain. But one day I just blurted it out to one of my friends. We spent quite a lot of time together getting drunk and talking utter crap and telling each other things we may not have done if we had been sober so maybe that had something to do with it. I can’t even remember what we were talking about or why the issue came up but she said something about adoption and i took a gamble and I said “yeah actually I’m not a big fan of adoption, I think there are lots of issues there.” which was clearly softening greatly how I really felt about it. I was gobsmacked when she, a real kid, agreed with me, she referred to it as “an act of violence” That was a really powerful moment for me. I always felt that my adoption was a physical trauma but I’d never heard anyone describe it as violence before. and it is violence, to children, mothers, families, communities. I’m sure I bore her to tears talking about adoption politics but its so refreshing that i have someone in my of line life I can talk about it with without having to explain or apologise to.

There are other people in my life that get it now but that’s after I’ve educated them on it, she was the first person offline I ever met who was totally right of the bat affirming about the way I felt about it and understanding of how damaging and oppressive it it, she was my witness and that has been incredibly healing and afirming for me

I was sent a link by the creator of this awesome website: Prymface
has support and information for and about teen mothers.

(This was written with a British audience in mind but I would think some of the issues are relevant in other countries too)

Over on the The F Word there’s a new post by Amity Reed of Fertilefeminism. I for one am really pleased about this. I really think British feminism has dropped the ball on issues surrounding motherhood and reproductive justice issues other than abortion. In my experience lots of feminists are anti mother and those that aren’t are clueless of the experiences, needs and oppressions of mothers. Feminist meetings and conferences often exclude mothers through price, lack of childcare and location and sometime just by not addressing anything to do with the needs of mothers. Because the mainstream feminist movement in Britain is overwhelmingly middle class white and able bodied even the women within it who are mothers have no idea of the needs and oppressions of working class, BME,[Women of Colour] and disabled mothers

Amity describes how she has

a feeling of exclusion from the ‘mainstream’ ranks of feminism is sometimes strong. Many mothers I have spoken to (both self-proclaimed feminists and otherwise) feel the same way. When an entire conference on reproductive rights doesn’t include a single workshop on birth; when stay-at-home mothers are denigrated for wasting their skills and educations; when so many resources are directed towards fighting strip clubs and lads’ mags but so little towards child poverty; when public spaces and services are made inaccessible and unwelcoming to families; when feminist books devote many more pages to the evils of pornography than the fact that mothers are disproportionately the ones suffering the monumental and adverse effects of the gender pay gap…it’s enough to make many mothers feel they’ve been forgotten by feminism, that their struggles are unimportant or inevitable.

and this is not okay, yes objectification of women is a feminist issues, but why the obsession with it? Why is that such an exclusive thing in the British feminist scene. I have a sneaking suspicion its because of the quick hit activism that it often involves, standing in a street protesting, signing a petition, sticking stickers and inserts in lad mags may make you feel good, like you’ve achieved something but it doesn’t entail getting your hands dirty, it doesn’t involve listening to and supporting real people (it should but that’s a whole other discussion)

there is a growing trend in the UK for young working class women with learning difficulties and/or mental health issues to be threatened with having their child taking away at birth and so few people are talking about this, we should be screaming about this, we should be part of the group that supports these women. We should be talking about how little parents on benefits have to live on, how difficult it is for mothers to go back in to education after they have children. We should be talking about child poverty, about the lack of flexibility in employment. We should be talking about the fact that children are taken into the foster care system when very often what their families needs is extra support (It cost £50,000 to keep a child in the care system for a year, it wouldn’t cost anywhere near that much to support a family in crises to keep them intact.) We should be talking about the lack of housing for families, despite all the empty properties, we should be talking more about the lack of funding in maternity and post natal care, we should be talking more about the fact women’s maternity choices are so often dismissed or curtailed

And at the base line we need to unpack the dominant concept of motherhood and the racism classism and ableism contained within that and the unexamined assumptions of what a good mother is and who deserves to be a mother that come along with it

cross posted from my other blog https://loveisnotafeeling.wordpress.com/

Cirila Baltazar Cruz has been reunited with her baby

Kerry Robertson is safe with her baby and partner in the Republic of Ireland. Her partner, Mark McDougall, blogs here