Saturday, May 24, 2008

The world of adoption online

I've been a part of the online adoption community for a while now. I joined one of the largest sites back in 2002, and have been a member of other adoption-related sites in the subsequent years as well. When we were first looking into adoption, I found the online adoption world a valuable resource - it was a place to not only find information, but encouragement and support. Prior to starting our journey to becoming parents through adoption, I had only occasionally visited adoption-related sites, because as an adoptee, I never felt much pull towards them. I felt much more connected as an adoptive parent than I did as an adoptee.

Of the three main sites that I belonged to, I now only participate on one. The first one I joined, I left after it came out that the site discriminated against GLBT couples who were hoping to adopt. The second site, I took an extended break from about a year ago now, and on the third, I am only an occasional poster - I've really stepped back a great deal from the level of participation I was used to on adoption-related forums a few years ago.

The reason I've significantly decreased my participation on these sites is because there is never ending drama among the online adoption community. (In case you didn't know, the adoption community consists of adoptees, parents who have relinquished children for adoption, and adoptive parents - aka the "adoption triad" as it is called these days.) The drama generally stems from one group of folks (or subset of a group) jumping on another group of folks, usually with some sort of sweeping, declarative statement(s) about that other group that is found (and rightly so) to be offensive and hurtful. The maligned group then fires back, the pot is stirred up and the moderators of the board in question find themselves having to deal with injured feelings and out-of-line comments flying all over the place. (I know this from firsthand experience, as I was a moderator for a while on one such site.) It takes an extraordinarily thick skin to be able to read some of the things people write about other members of the triad, and even the most armored heart can't help but still feel occasionally slighted or hurt. I know, because I've been hurt by things I've read, some of which were directed at me, others generalizations about adoptees or adoptive parents - the two-thirds of the triad to which I belong. Most of the offenders in my case were actually other adoptees, strangely enough. It finally came to a point where I needed to step away from the sites because I didn't feel I had anything worthwhile enough to contribute (as anything I shared was only ever my personal opinion based upon my own personal experience, after all) to justify fighting with those who shouted loudest or were most forceful in expressing their views. I have found that I do not miss the drama one bit, and I am fortunate to have a circle of friends online who are all part of the adoption triad and with whom it is safe to share, even when we don't agree, and from whom I can find the support, encouragement and friendship I'd been hoping for in the larger forums.

Nowadays, with blogs being so ubiquitous, there are many adoption-related bloggers out there. Sometimes, the comment sections of these blogs - online, personal journals, mind you - become places for people to attack and hurt other members of the adoption triad. A dear friend of mine recently was hurt by just such a situation. It hurts me to know that there are people in the adoption world with such malicious intent, who seek out controversy and who have nothing better to do than stir the pot. It hurts me even more to know that people I care about have been hurt by such malcontents. I have a suggestion for those people who feel the need to attack in this manner - if you find that a blog's content is something that offends you or doesn't agree with your own personal opinions, and you can't restrain yourself from attacking the blogger or commenters on that blog, don't read the blog any further. Just stay away if you can't read with respect. Does it really make people feel better to attack a fellow human being? I just don't get that. There are several adoption triad-related blogs that friends of mine frequent, have listed in their blogrolls, etc. I don't read most of them, because I know already that what I read there will be upsetting to me personally. It's like closing my eyes during a gory scene in a movie or TV show - I know in advance it's gonna bother me, so I don't look. While I may disagree or dislike what those people are saying, that doesn't mean I feel entitled to go to their blog and rant and attack in the comments section. What they say has value to themselves (or why would they've written it?) and may be informative or eye-opening and therefore have value to others, just not me. So, I don't click on the link and I don't read those blogs. It's not that difficult...

I'm going to close by posting here something I first wrote back in August of 2005. Sadly, it still holds true today.

I'd just like to put out a plea/reminder/wish/hope...The internet has people from all walks of life, corners of the world and all three sides of the adoption triad. Everyone has their own beliefs and opinions about adoption. It just isn't fair for any one person to assume that s/he knows better about any other person's life, circumstances, opinions or feelings. For every happy adoptee, there is an adoptee who is sad. For every happy adoptive parent, there is an adoptive parent who is struggling. For every happy birth parent, there is a birth parent who isn't happy. Adoption is complex, we all know this. What I'd like to ask is that we all please, PLEASE try to keep in mind that we all should show respect for each other. It's okay not to agree with everyone else, but it isn't okay to presume we know better than any other person. No one person here has all the answers (especially not me). What works for one person doesn't for another. Such is life... We can try to support and inform other folks based on our own knowledge and life experience, but again, we should try to do this in a respectful manner. (Anyone else hear Aretha Franklin singing in the background? ) So, please everyone, when reading a post that has a dissenting view, push back from the keyboard and take a few deep breaths before firing off a response. Everyone is equally entitled to their own thoughts and everyone is equally entitled to share them without being jumped all over - in other words, everyone is entitled to be treated with respect.

Okay, /soapbox for now. I just needed to get that off my chest.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this, sweetie.

It doesn't seem to matter to some people that what they say is hurtful. People who wouldn't dream of verbally demolishing their worst enemy in person have little compuntion about pulling a Wolverine online.

And with that delightful X-Men reference, I will leave you with this image: Hugh Jackman, in leather pants, shirtless.

Did that make it better for you? Cause it's sure doing it for me. Rawr!