We’re having a discussion today on the Bastard Nation Facebook page on The Bastard Moment. Those times when as an adoptee you are insulted, embarrassed, patronized, degraded, demeaned, dishonored, silenced due strictly to your adoptive status. It’s part of the legislative process, but it’s also part of the personal process in the construction of Class Bastard.
Bastard Moments often occur out of no where when bumblers make rude, gratuitous. yet genuinely clueless and innocent remarks about your adoption, usually built around the theme of gratitude. My favorite is, “aren’t you glad you weren’t brought up in a trailer park?” Actually, I know adoptees in rural southern Ohio who were! I call them Bastards on Blocks)
Other remarks and actions are purposefully aimed at forcing the adoptee into silence and obedience. I have a friend who was told repeatedly by his Forever Parents, “We’ll send you back to the gutter you came from,” if he failed to conform to their expectations.
The most common bastard bait — “would you prefer to have been aborted?:–comes from reactionary politicians and “pro-lifers,” with a political agenda to protect, and from people with a hard-on for adoptees or adoption reform posting under fake names on the internet Yesterday. during an online discussion about evangelicals and sealed records. I was asked the abortion question for the 987th time My interrogator. not satisfied with just asking this illogical silly question. called me a worm and suggested that I crawl back into my hole in Stupidville. I suppose the less hearty would fade at that order, but after decades of illiterate abuse I just sneer. When you play in the mud you expect to be dirty.
As far as I know, Bastard Nation coined the term Bastard Moment probably from discussions on the original alt.adoption–the meanest news group on the ‘net.
Around 1998 (I don’t’ have an exact date) LDA Bastard Natiional BG Blackburn wrote about this phenomenon in her essay Bastard Moments I Have Known. BG nicely defines the set-up.
I think of a bastard moment as a kind of Calgon Moment scripted by Hitchcock. You are in your warm, steamy, cozy bathroom, a tub full of warm water and scented suds awaits you. You dip in a toe, a foot, step in, pull in your other foot. Only then do you realize that what you thought was a bubble is actually a large, hairy spider swimming toward your leg, its closest shoreline. You jump out, slip on the tiles, and bang your head. You want to scrub yourself furiously, but the tub is already occupied by a horror.
Here’s Bastardette’s story:
My Bastard Moment came late in the scheme of things, in 1989 after my amom died. Keep in mind that I’d gotten my OBC in 1981.
Less than a week after my mom’s death my mom’s lawyer, my boyfriend, and I were at the bank to open the safe deposit box. A bank official was also present. We’re going through the papers, and at the very bottom was my original birth certificate. All the information had been razored out. I made a grab for it, but the lawyer beat me to it and slipped it in his pocket saying something along the lines of “Mom asked me to cut out all the information. She didn’t’ want you to be hurt.” It happened so fast and I was so stunned I couldn’t think of anything to say other than, “I already have all that information.” I think that pissed him off a little.. He was also an adoptive father, I assume, with issues.
My boyfriend, who shall I say, was a former Golden Gloves boxer and had quite a public record of being non-complaint to authority, said he should have broken the lawyer’s hand. Not a bad idea, but I had to deal with the guy while the will was probated.
I have no doubt my mom asked the to lawyer to razor up the OBC, because she was always fretting over me being hurt about something. Still, it shocked me. And if it were such a big deal why didn’t she do it herself? Why didn’t she just toss it? She was quite self-sufficient and capable of doing it. What’s up with that? Maybe she thought it was illegal for her to mutilate my OBC, but not for an officer of the court. Mayb e she felt it had some importance, but if so, why cut it up? I have no idea. The weird part is that I never felt that either of my adoptive parents had entitlement issues, and my adoption was hardly a secret.
In her last years my mom asked me if I wanted information. and I very cowardly said no, because I feared a scene. In retrospect I believe there would have been no scene. Because I had my OBC and other first family information, though, I didn’t raise a fuss with the lawyer. I should have. I would certainly now
I’m sure the lawyer’s confiscation of my mutilated OBC was illegal. What if it had been a stock certificate or a bond?
This is a pretty creepy Bastard Moment, Actually, I have another one, but I think I posted it a long time. I”m sure that others have creepier an uglier moments than mine..
In Honor of National Adoption Awareness Month:
Ride the Unicorn!
It’s time we start to collect and publish our Bastard Moments.They are crucial to our identify and political formation, how and why we view adoption as we do, as well as how we are viewed by the state and those outside of the adoption experience.. The Bastard Moment is how we are see how others see us. Bastard Moments are powerful political statements.
I thought we had a collection of Bastard Moments on the BN page, but I can’t find them. They may have appeared in the Bastard Quarterly which is not available online right now
Members of the BN FB page are posting their own Bastard Moments, and I’ve asked permission to post them on the BN page as a permanent record.
I’I invite you to post yours, too. either on BN-FB, The Daily Bastardette or on this blog as it appears on the BN website.
Our Bastard Moments are real adoption awareness that we live every day, not just every November.
Thanks to Jodi Mai for the suggestion
Join me on Twitter: @DBastardette