Welcome to Hell Month aka National Adoption Awareness Month 2020, the adoption industry’s Great I Am! It gets press. It gets cute stories. It gets teary stories. It gets inspiring stories. It gets white savior, forced birther, and sentimentalist stores. It gets Presidential Proclamations. But it doesn’t “get us.” Not really. Not even when the court decrees that “us” belongs to “them.”
NAAM (or NAM—I always get confused)) has been around since 1984 when President Ronald Reagan expanded the already-established National Adoption Week (expanded from Adoption Day started in Massachusetts in 1976) to accommodate the number of states that had joined the movement. It began as a special month to encourage foster and special needs adoption, particularly by family members. Not surprisingly, NAAM quickly morphed into an infant adoption market-fest where newborns and toddlers, often white and healthy, many with perfectly competent bio families somewhere in their murky past, get paraded around as recipients of adoption industry largess. Escapees from dumpsters, abortion mills, crack moms, drunks, welfare cheats, pimps, potential abusers, grade school dropouts, atheists, pagans, trailer parks; and in the case of trans-national adoption, Trump’s shithole countries. Forced birthers particularly like NAAM since it gives them the chance to trot out children, without their consent, as “saves,” with absolutely no evidence to back their delusions. Screw the fact, adoption and abortion have little relationship, though Amy Cooney Barrett hopes to change that. Why, if it weren’t for the adoption….
The Saturday before Thanksgiving is designated as National Gotcha’ Day..err…National Adoption Day…err..or as my old blogger friend Baby Love Child writes: a day of mass records sealing; a day of mass spectacle:
National Adoption Day” must be recognized for what it is from the adoptees’ perspective rather than the adoption industry’s perspective; it represents the single largest number of sealed records of any day of the calendar year. A collective loss of thousands of kids original identities one stroke of a pen at a time.
For decades, on that day thousands of infants and mostly little kids across America have entered the Adoption Protection Program where their names identities and histories are obliterated by order of the state and by official adoption decree. Their new names, identities, and histories along with their pictures are appropriated by propagandists and press for public consumption, with joyful approval of new parents, adoption agents, and “pro-lifers. “Since adoption is magic, some new little adoptees dress up like Disney princesses. Disney and Marvel hero characters visit the courtroom as a special treat. Sometimes little adoptees are photographed for Pinterest Moments holding up handmade signs, which they are obviously too young to have made themselves, advertising the virtues of adoption or how long they had lingered in foster care before being government approved and “chosen.”
Privacy and agency are not an option for little adoptees. Their stories and bodies, controlled by adults and the state, are fair game or photo and editorial ops. Only when little adoptees grow up and become big adoptees demanding records or histories or answers or reunions does privacy matter. And as usual, it is not their privacy that counts, though the state will declare adoptee privacy must be protected, defined in a very weird way, is at issue. It’s the privacy (and safety), of course, of first parents, adoptive parents or the state that need protected from the previously articulated lucky adoptee who has now turned ungrateful and dangerous for wanting the same rights and social experiences as the not adopted
So NAAM, once an altruistic time to support foster and special needs adoption for kids who might actually need and desire a home and family, is now a full-fledged industrial and “pro-life” ergo trip, enhanced by saviorism. racism, classism, patriarchy, and money-grubbing that you can celebrate in the privacy and comfort of your own home—especially in the age of social distancing—with decorations and treats from Party City. ..
unless you are adopted and…
…dread NAAM like others dread a trip to the dentist.
I may, however, be the exception to NAAM Derangement Syndrome (NAAMDS). I like to think you are, too. After all, adoption is about us—not them,–so we need to hold the industry’s dicks to the fire. Adopted people around the world are taking back their lives and autonomy..NAAM is the perfect vehicle to subvert and hijack.
A lot of people complain that adoptee voices are stifled, especially during NAAM, but I think that’s a big mistake. I believe that since NAAM was established, the month has slowly become ours—despite the refusal of lawmakers, “pro-choicers,” and entitleds to grasp that we are hijacking their celebration. Sure, there is definitely a happy-dappy overlay, including National Adoption Day, but over a 20 year period, I’ve seen a lot of change. Class Bastard has stepped forward and grabbed the narrative. Politically, we went from quiet frustration, anger, and internet mail lists to Oregon and Alabama (and more states now) to Flip the Script to Fuck the Script (courtesy of, I believe,Daniel Drennan ElAwar). I started to write more about that history today, but I jumped off the track, and I prefer to keep focused on welcoming you to NAAM. I plan to write more about activist NAAM history later this month.
Still, Class Bastard must fight for every inch of ground we take—and each of us has to, in our own way, hold that won ground, move forward, and take new territory.
Not everyone has the same abilities, interests, resources, or time, but each and every person who can crank out an email, pick up a phone, march at a rally, talk to friends, research the opposition, develop theory and strategy, write blogs and articles, start a local rights group, build a coalition, attend and testify at hearings, chain themselves to the door of Vital Stats, has a role they can play.
Bite my tongue, but getting into social media wars benefits in that you let the enemy and assorted idiots know that you are out there watching them. It’s a kind of low-level intel sometimes that keeps you on your toes. Social media—especially Twitter– never fails to entice, intrigue, infuriate and inspire. Not that NAAM should be all about the assholes—especially the misnamed “pro-lifers”–who take a real interest in mocking, ridiculing, and condemning “ungrateful adoptees” or anyone who even mildly criticizes the adoption system. The know-it-alls that know nothing about you, me, or adoption. The ones who believe they know your adoptive experience better than you do. The ones who send thoughts and prayers, win the Adoptee Bingo jackpot, or tell you go off and die if you are so unhappy. Few, if any, of these jackboots are policy influencers Still there is a certain satisfaction in sticking it to Lila Rose or Abbey Johnson, or some adoption agency hack, or crazy adopteephobe who thinks Joe Biden “drinks baby blood.” (I am not making up that last one/). It’s fun to bust mythologies, but don’t spend all your time in the echo chamber. Remember, that you aren’t going to change their minds. Change takes hard work, not personal indulgence.
As some of you know, I write a blog a day each day for NAAM. It’s no different this year. It’s not easy. What can I write about today.? What adoptatrocity will cross my path!? Wouldn’t I rather watch General Hospital or talk to my cat, or take a walk down the road to visit the goats? But always—always—some miscreant stumbles across my path,.Some movie pops up on Prime. Some song reminds me I’m adopted. (Nine Inch Nails is good at that). Sometimes there is even good news, and if there is, I’ll write about it.
When the Covid lock-down started I wrote a list of bastardly things you could do to as you while away your hours of forced inertia and over-eating. Use that list as a guide to activities you can do to subvert NAAM, piss off the adoptocracy, and exercise your voice this month. Even though I wrote it, I’m re-visiting it Seems it’s time to write a Letter to the Editor of the Waco Tribune-Herald and the Temple Daily Telegram condemning stupid Texas access laws. I just need to be polite, which, of course ,I always am!
I want to make two reading recommendations, which I have found invaluable. One old. One new.
- The Psychology of Self-Defeatism in Adoption Reform by Damsel Plum, co-founder of Bastard Nation, and published in the Summer 1997 issue of The Bastard Quarterly. Sadly not much has changed. While there are obvious improvements and there are signs of growing militancy and a refusal to accept “less than,” so many adoptees continue to serve as unwitting (or not) foot soldiers for the adoptocracy They continue to promote and support self-defeating and limited strategies, legislation, and solutions to adoption toxicity in the hope of snatching a few crumbs from the fingers of power.
Adoptees – the time has come for us to take the lead in the issue which most impacts us, and over which we had no decision. Come out of the closet and don’t be ashamed that you are adopted. Knowledge is power. Conviction and self-respect form the armor which will protect us from the lies thrown into the fray by our enemies and the ignorant ones who are manipulated by them. Education and outreach are the swords with which we can cut down the briar of secrets and lies set up by who fear the truth and profit from lies. Defeatism is a self-fulfilling prophecy. We are not children. We are not second-class citizens. We are not shameful. Real open records is reasonable. It’s our job to make it happen the right way.
- The Seven Necessary Sins for Women and Girls by Mona Eltahawy.invigorates and excites me. This book is not about adoption. It is not a step-by step practical guide on political change. It is a blueprint for personal autonomy. It is a manifesto of attitude and behavioral transformation–a manifesto for social revolution of which adoption is a part,. Although adoption is never mentioned, adoption is a tool of patriarchy that punishes, controls, and defines our Class B status. As I wrote a couple of weeks ago, adoption is at the intersection of our toxic culture
Race, class, sex, gender, abortion, misogyny, economics, poverty, lack of accessible healthcare, homelessness, consumerism, social welfare, reproductive rights, reproductive justice, public policy, state violence, religious wars, culture wars, colonialism, Neo-imperialism, public and private corruption, immigration and citizenship, Real ID, Neo-liberalism. taxes, natural disasters, redistribution of wealth (especially children), narcissism, Supreme Court nominees. Class Bastard is embedded in them all.
November 2020 is a good time to enhance our war. What better time to fly our bastard flag than NAAM, when the industry, its allies, and enablers are rallying around their sacred pole?
Terrify the enemy!