Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Why Can't We All Just Get Along?

As I entered the arena of adoption research I was amazed at the many different viewpoints and the strong emotions reflected by each member of the adoption triad. I started off only exposing myself to the writings of families experiencing the same things as myself…those families adopting internationally. Then I ventured out beyond those walls of the Message Board and began reading posts and comments from families adopting domestically. That soon led to reading the stories and thoughts of birth mothers-something I tried to avoid for fear of where it would lead my feelings in regard to my own birth mother. And of course that eventually led me to the websites and forums created by and designed for those of us who were adopted.

Through this journey I have read many comments posted by each member of the triad as they respond to the thoughts and feelings of “opposing” members. And I am disheartened. There is nothing that I dislike more than name calling, especially when we don’t even really KNOW the person we are calling names. Personally, when I begin reading posts and comments that aim to attack and hurt individuals the author of that comment immediately loses credibility in my eyes. And when that happens, regardless of how valid their position might be, I have a hard time referring back to that person as a source of information and knowledge.

I most recently came across this name calling in a discussion about returning adopted children to their birth parents if it was proven that they were coerced into relinquishing their child. This is a very legitimate and thought-provoking question…one that certainly incites a lot of emotion and very clearly some opposing viewpoints depending on which side of the triad you sit. However, since my own opinion about this is very much on the fence, and since I represent two opposing views within the triad, I wanted to expose myself to some other thoughts before putting my own opinion into words. Unfortunately I didn’t find much. What I DID find was a lot of personal attacks based on misinterpretations and misunderstandings. And the most offensive attack of all was directed to the birth mother who raised the question on her own blog.

As I read the comments and the attacks I couldn’t help but ask myself how this was going to help in the campaign for adoption reform. As I wrote above, the initial question is a very legitimate one and one that deserves attention as we turn our eyes to adoption reform. However, if all that results from asking such questions is personal attack and feelings of “my opinion is the only one that matters because I am the one most affected by adoption” then there will be no reform. Those people responsible for actually enacting reform will not stand around and listen to grown men and women attack each other and call each other names. At some point we will all need to recognize that all of our intentions are noble and worthy of respect. Sure, there are some people out there who only have their own best interests at heart, but I believe (perhaps naively) that those are the minority. For the most part we all want what is best for one particular individual…the adoptee. And no amount of name calling and individual attacks are going to help make life any better for him/her. It is often said that those who speak the loudest accomplish the most. As individuals our voice is but a whisper, but if we join together we can insist that our voices be heard!

1 comment:

Heather said...

I agree--the tone of online conversations can be really disheartening sometimes.