adoption, reuniOn, reform, reality**
My daughter who is in her early twenties is looking for a job, all the time. In these days of unpaid internships and short pieces of contract work, it is a perpetual quest for the next bit of paid employment and the next infusion of money to make sure that she can cover the rent on the apartment she shares with two other people.
Some of the more senior members of the family say to her:
“Why aren’t you trying to get a permanent job?”
“Why do you keep going after these short-term contracts?”
This annoys my daughter. All it says to her is these more elderly members of the family have no idea what it is like for a young person today. She has in fact, done pretty well. She has, more or less, always been employed. And that isn’t always easy in her chosen field, the arts. She works hard at finding work and she works hard at the jobs that she gets. She’s smart. She goes the extra mile. She thinks proactively. (♥) People like her and they hire her back. But there is no security. No permanent work.
The attitude to work of the older members of the family is old school. It’s based on a world that really doesn’t exist anymore for a lot of people. Do I believe lack of security is a good thing? No I don’t but it is the reality of the situation. Pretending things are otherwise doesn’t help.
I was thinking about these old school notions in relation to what is going on at Penn State. Their attempts to deal with the issue were definitely Old School. The majority reaction to what they did encourages me about changing the world’s view of adoption. I think that attitudes to child abuse, physical, emotion or sexual, and adoption have a lot in common. There is a lot of denial.
Whenever we, the mothers and adoptees raise issues about abuse in adoption many people react in an old school way too. And for some of the same reasons Penn State did. To protect the institution.
I am not talking here specifically of physical, emotion or sexual abuse, although that can be part of it. I am also talking about abuse of process. About mothers being coerced into giving up their children, either by the no-choice methods of long ago or by the manipulation of mother/adopter pre-birth bonding in the present day scenarios.
Say there are a few problems with adoption and the happy adoptees are trotted out. The gaily relinquishing mothers are pointed out. We are angry. We are bitter. What, we are reminded, about the disastrous reunions with crack-whores and money-seeking first fathers. Some people want hearts and flowers adoption old school to die a pretty slow death. Some people want it to live forever.
If there is a dark side to adoption, from identity crises to primal wounds to corruption and coercion, that is not good for the institution’s reputation or its bottom line either. Nor is it good for the consumers. Supply lines could close down. They may have to find a new path to sainthood.
So why again does the situation at Penn state make me feel better and encouraged.
Because Penn state isn’t going to get away with it. The denial and sweeping the problem away. Penn State seems to have realized the old school days are over. Granted they have only had this epiphany after the news could no longer be suppressed and after much public outcry but they have still had it. But even more importantly, the world, for the most part, seems to accept that the old school ways of dealing with this are over. No matter whose ox gets gored in the process.
Penn State did not do what was morally right because it protected something it viewed as more important than boys and young men who, if the evidence supports the allegations, may be scarred for life.
What happened at Penn State is going to change us and the way we look at glorifed institutions. Adoption is one of the most glorified of them all.
That’s the reason many of us are blogging every darn day during the month of November. We are trying to get the other side of the story out there.
We are trying to say “The way you have been looking at adoption, people, it’s old school too.”
** For new readers, I am working through the letters in these words as my writing prompts during NaBloPoMo 2011.
♥ I know I’m her mother but I do believe, with as much objectivity as I can muster, that this description of her is accurate.