Adoptees are not adoption. Adoption is not a reality show.

By now you have probably seen the viral news story about  Michael, the little boy in Grand Rapids, Michigan who invited his kindergarten class to his adoption finalization hearing. Over 30 other kids were being finalized as well.

I was tempted to comment on it, but decided to let it go, I don’t like to exploit little adoptees or play into adoption agitprop.  But, I keep seeing the story all over the internet, and 95% of the people commenting, including some adoptees are fine with a public spectacle.that turns adoption and adoptees into a  Hallmark moment.

I understand why this story warms the heart cockles of people who don’t get what’s going on here and see adoption as win-win-win situation–some kind of fluffy unicorn happy- ending fairytale, not the ultimate consumer transaction rooted in loss.  Why adoptees would not at least be uncomfortable over it baffles me. Even the happy-dappiest adoptee has a chip on their shoulder about something it seems, suffers through Bastard Moments.  or just plain doesn’t find entertainment in the commercialization of the intimate.

Adoption is not a reality show.

I consider these numerous news stories to be adoption porn, especially since this finalization took place on Kent County, Michigan’s  Gotcha Day, December 4. Or rather Sealed Records Day. Or Adoptee Erasure Day. Or Child Scoop Day.. Or Adoptee Savior Day (race and religion optional but white and  Christian preferred). 
According to E! News, the Kent County Gotcha Day was moved from NAAM to the first week in December so Santa and his elves can be invited.
I have no objection to a little boy inviting his kindergarten friends to the finalization.–or Santa showing up. (According to some stories Michael’s kindergarten teacher came up with the idea, which puts a different slant on it).  He’s only 5 for Pete’s sale, and he has no idea what is going on.

What I do object to is the Mighty Wurlitzer effect –the mass media spin circus that the adopters , the teacher, CASA, and the court have permitted. Confessional culture at its worse The sentimentalization of a very broken public policy. It’s stunts like this that objectify and fetishize.adoptees  and promote “gratefulness”  and saviorhood,  the twin-engine, fueled on systemic rot, .that runs adoption mythology. and its money-grubbing industry. 

Family-making of any type is usually a small private affair not open for public viewing and participation. An adoption celebration is OK if the adoptee, the object of the celebration,  wants it, though I doubt that a 5-year old understands much of what is going on, except for a party. (I inherited some money from my grandmother when I was about that age, and my parents had to periodically take me to probate court to prove they hadn’t offed me, I didn’t understand it, though I remember squirming in my chair like Michael is in pictures. and wondering why our friends the police carried guns in the courthouse and might shoot us.).
Hauling in the press for PR  and adoption business -building purposes is not OK. It is not the Class Child Adoptee’s job to pose for a poster, be a ringer, or bang the tambourine and pass the plate to keep the adoption racket going. And that’s just what this news story is about. 
Moses Farrow writes about the case:
Life is made up of narratives. Our stories. Many times the parents’ narratives outweigh the adoptee’s. What else is left out? Cultural implications? the mental and emotional state of the child? Race? His identity? How will he ever really own his own narrative? No matter how much he may be told it was a celebration, he may remember it differently, too young to properly comprehend how his body was feeling that day and all that occurred prior. Stories like this perpetuate the vision of the ideal adoption narrative… with the adoptive parents saving the child from their inevitable doomed future… and the child being forever reminded they should be grateful.
One interesting thing, though. In every news article, I’ve read the little boy is referred to by his original full name-, Michae—including the “Jr.” suffix. Does this mean that he is allowed to keep his original name?  I hope so. He has been fostered by the adoptive parents for a year, so he is probably aware of his family and his name. How did the little boy’s biological parents feel about the circus, especially his father whose name he carries? How do they feel about his internet commodification–and their own erasure? How do they like their loss celebrated around the world?
While just about everyone outside of AdoptioLand find Michel and his adoption something to smile about I and other adoptees find it sad. This little boy now wears a target on his back, as we lal do only his is much more visible.. Be happy. Be grateful.. Don’t ask questions. Shut up.


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