Adoptees aren’t puppies.
I belong to a feminist social media group. The group is intended to have women supporting other women and the members are encouraged to “brag” as a means to celebrate the accomplishments of female-identifying members.
On this particular day the “brag” of a member was that she’d adopted a transgender child, and had bought the child surgery, a puppy, and a latte. She posted a picture of the child, post-op.
I was very bothered by her post, as it seemed as though she was looking for accolades from the audience for adopting a child. Furthermore, she was posting a picture of a minor online, and discussing that minor’s private medical procedures publicly. The accolades poured in from well-intentioned women who told her what a saint she was for adopting a child. How wonderful of her! Even more wonderful was that she adopted a trans-gender teen.
I mentioned that I hoped that I was taking it wrong, but that it seemed to me that she was doing both of these things: seeking attention for adopting a child and then using that child’s surgery as clickbait. As I engaged with her it became clear that it was EXACTLY what she was doing.
She justified her actions by saying that: the child wanted her to publicly tell everyone about his surgery, and that the child was just so happy to have been adopted that she knew he wouldn’t mind. Her only regret was that she had said she’d “adopted” the child and not “rescued” the child. The child was just so lucky to have been rescued by her that it was appropriate to post this child’s image and personal information all over the internet and specifically, to a group with 23,000 members.
When I suggested to her that it was insensitive, she said that perhaps she’d be more sensitive if she adopted another child. Then she suggested that I needed therapy for being so sensitive, myself.
Internet arguments are obviously not worth getting terribly upset about but I once again watched the typical adoption narrative: here is a child whom I’ve adopted! Look at me! I’m so great! This child is so lucky to be adopted by me. This child should be so grateful. I will discuss this child as if they don’t have the right to autonomy or privacy.
Yes, there is a need for teens to be adopted. Yes, there’s an even bigger need for parents of LGBTQ teens. But that doesn’t mean that it’s ok to treat them like a rescue puppy.
Even the terminology that I see people using lately is the same terminology used by animal shelters: “Oh! Lucky Brayden!! He found his ‘forever’ home!” I don’t think it’s ok to interchange the same verbiage for puppies and children.
That attitude is pervasive, and it’s the idea of posting your new child on your Insta account, like you would a puppy. Then, if things don’t work out, you can just “rehome” the child.
The Youtube-famous Stauffer family adopted a toddler from China. They took this child out of his home country and gave him a stupid-sounding American name, (“Huxley,”) and used him in numerous videos that made them money. All the same stuff occurred: He found his “forever” home. They posted his picture all over the internet. They shared his “journey.” Then, when he was too much trouble, he was “rehomed.” Just like a puppy who pees on your carpet. There was ZERO concern for that child’s privacy or autonomy.
I shudder to imagine the trauma that Huxley went through in his brief life. But the Stauffers made a video about how the mom had really tried. (I get it. I tried to like yoga. I really tried. Sometimes stuff just doesn’t work out, amirite?)
All adoption involves trauma. Adoptees commit suicide at 4 times the national average. As it is, adoptees are often denied the right to our own original birth certificates and medical history. We frequently don’t know what our ethnic identities are. If we are poc, we have been frequently asked to adopt the identity of our adoptive families.
Are we grateful for being adopted? Maybe. But it’s not fair to expect us to constantly express our gratitude for our lives more than you’d expect that from a biological child. Many times in my life, people have told me how grateful I should be for not being aborted. THAT IS A REALLY WEIRD THING TO SAY TO SOMEONE!!! I’ve decided that, from now on, when people say that to me I’m going to respond: “You TOO! You are so lucky that you weren’t aborted too! High five to all of us who made it out of the womb! Whoot!”
Using adoptees to fulfill your savior complexes to get “likes” on social media, is gross. Using the same terminology for childhood adoptions as you use for cats and dogs, is gross. Exploiting adopted children on the internet, is gross. Yes, we love our adoptive families. Yes, we are probably grateful that we got all borned and stuff. But, please, quit exploiting all children online. Please, quit treating us like puppies.
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