They called her name, and under my breath, I muttered, “Fuck off.”
Lisa leaned over quickly asking, “Do you need to leave? I’ll come with you. I don’t want to hear what she has to say.”
I shook my head violently. I was not going to be run out of that room. No, I’d done that too many times in my life. I was going to stand my ground. Maybe, I told myself, she wouldn’t even read an adoption related piece. Maybe.
I knew I was lying to myself. I know her message well. I stopped interacting with her because I got the distinct impression that she wasn’t here to learn but to tell me I was wrong. I like learning from others who have had a different experience than I have, especially in adoption, but sometimes, it’s not about being right or wrong. It’s about doing right, and changing the conversation that monopolizes the adoption spotlight.
When I had signed up for the Listen To Your Mother Open Mic at BlogHer, it hadn’t even crossed my mind that someone would read an adoption piece, or that they’d read an adoption piece that would trigger me. When I had thoughtfully decided what I would read,(if I was picked) I avoided adoption because generally it leads to more questions or statements that I will usually answer with as much grace as I can muster, but honestly, it’s just exhausting. After bursting into tears at Pathfinder Day, when another attendee told me she’d read some of my posts during lunch and wanted me to know how important my story was and is, I was a little raw. It wasn’t my name on the screen during the opening conference video that read, I am a Birth Mother, I am BlogHer, but it hit me right in the heart for many reasons. Before Voices of The Year began, I had to explain that a birth mother was not someone who birthed babies for people who didn’t have any, that I was coerced to give my child away, and it wasn’t a happy ending for me, at all. Even though being open about this stuff is new and important to me, it is still emotionally draining.
If I’m being honest, besides being fragile, I knew didn’t want to hear what she had to say.
The readers before her weren’t much of a distraction for me. I was too busy trying to build a wall to protect myself. I was too busy wondering if I could escape without creating too much commotion. I was still trying to convince myself that she might not read anything about adoption.
But she did. Because, of course.
I think she made it through the first paragraph of her piece before I was dry heaving. Through blinding tears, I heard someone tell me not to listen to a word she was saying. If I could have willed my ears shut at this point, I would have done it, but as she read, her words echoed in my head. I heard the women at my table ask what the point of the post was. I felt hands on my back, and words of comfort. I heard myself say, “Fuck you” multiple times. I felt my body shake, and I knew that the people behind me were wondering what the hell was going on. I felt blindsided, and exposed. I felt so angry. I wanted to scream. Instead, I just continued to sob into my drink while those around me tried to be comforting.
I felt like someone had just kicked the shit out of me.
Afterward, a birth mother saw my face, she asked what happened. I told her, the tears still rapidly falling. She wrapped me into her arms and hugged me in a way that only someone who “gets it” could. We began discussing the issue with adoption parent privilege. The kind that would tell someone that reading a piece like that would be a great idea. The kind that wants you to feel sorry for them, and think that they are the victim in the adoption process. The kind that wants you to ignore the hurt and pain of others. The kind that stands on a stage and spews that biological parents have a choice in the kind of baby they have, and that it’s no different than an adoptive parent choosing the sex, race, and age of their child. The kind that makes you wonder if anyone is listening to your side of the story.
Adoption parent privilege is a fucking mind trip. Especially when it’s on full display, not hidden by a computer screen and the ability to click that tiny X in the corner of your screen. Especially when you have been dealing with it personally. Mostly, it’s a mind trip because these people are hoarding the goddamn narrative. They get mainstream attention, while the rest of us fight to be heard and seen. For every comment they get telling them they are brave for speaking their “truth”, we birth mothers (and adoptees) get at least five telling us to sit down and shut up. They are the ones that shut down a contest because we dare discuss the uglier side of adoption. They get to be saints, and we get to be the miserable sinners. When negativity is sent their way, they are surrounded by an army of others who refuse to listen, because how dare we challenge their thinking?
Fuck that nonsense. Fuck it all the way to the bank.
Her reading did allow for others to get a glimpse into my world. It did allow for me to have further discussions about why her post was problematic. I’m glad I was able to have those discussions, because they are so important. However, it didn’t solve the biggest issue: adoptive parent privilege is alive and well. Even if I’ve isolated myself with adoptive parents who get it, there are still some that don’t get it at all.
(I’m not posting a link to the post because I don’t want to give her a bigger platform, or traffic).