Sunday, April 15, 2012

What A Week

To say this week was interesting would be an understatement.

I have been overwhelmed and amazed as I have watched the events unfold since I first received the email  from Circle Of Moms.  I can’t even put into words how I’m feeling now as I look back on it.  It’s impossible to do so.

I’m trying to reply to all the comments left on my blog, respond to the emails and Facebook messages, the other blogs that wrote about what happened.  But, as it is taking a lot longer than I had hoped, I just want to say . . .

Thank you.

It feels as if I have offered those two simple words so much this past week that I’m starting to sound like a broken record and I worry that the impact is becoming diminished.  I just hope everyone will know, I truly mean it, more than you could ever imagine.  Not just for the outpouring of support and kindness I have received but for so much else as well.

For the voices that stood up and spoke with tremendous force against censorship.  For the outreach I have witnessed, over and over again, from so many who came together, found common ground, and chipped away at some of the walls that might have separated them in the past.

Amanda, over at The Declassified Adoptee, wrote a wonderful post . . . The Good Things That Come From Bad Things: What Cassi's Ordeal has Taught me . . . and all I could think of while reading it was, “Yes.  Exactly.  There has been so much good that has come out of a situation that started out as bad.”

In all the years I have been blogging, I don’t recall seeing anything quite like what happened this past week. Past the amazing support I received, it was so much more than that.  So much more important than the wonderful, kind words I was given.

It was, in my personal view, a huge step forward in being reminded of the importance of listening and learning from all sides.  Of those who may have never heard each other in the past, finding common ground to slowly chip away at whatever stood between them and truly listening to what was being said.  To the viewpoints, the experiences that might not always match their own but still play an importance in the message of adoption and all that it involves.

I know, even for me, this week has been a stark realization of just how stuck I was becoming in my own comfort zone.  There was a time when I used to actively seek out other's voices, their stories.  But lately I’ve stopped doing that and it took the events of this past week to remind me of the importance of venturing out, learning more, hearing more, than what makes me comfortable and satisfied in my own little world.

Of course, this doesn’t mean that I believe we are all going to now link elbows and start singing Kumbaya  (at least not without a few drinks first.)  Or that everyone is going to love everyone and we are all going to walk off into the happily ever after together.

There is always going to be disagreements, differing opinions and viewpoints.  There will always be those that, no matter what, we know we will never be able to find common ground with.  I, myself have to admit I have my own in that arena, one of which Real Daughter gave us another good look into in her post Circle Of Morons.

Yes, because I am far from saintly, or even patient, I know I will never become one that can just say, “Well there has to be something we can agree on.”  For me, I know, there are times when I just have to admit that I don’t even care to find something, much less spend the time searching for it.

But there are others where it is worth the time, the effort, to find common ground, to listen to and learn from.  Others who do not fall immediately into line with the belief that everything in adoption is perfect and there is no hard truths to be shared.  Who feed the constant message into society that everything is sunshine and roses without a single dark moment to be seen.

That just isn’t reality.  It isn’t.  Whether one supports adoption or fights for change in adoption, the fact remains that it isn’t, and never can be, all good.   There are challenges, issues, realities to be faced that are not part of the picture so many view, or present it, as.

From dealing with the challenges of open adoption to exposing coercion, there are many different layers and truths that exist.  And if we share our truths and commit ourselves to crossing the boundaries that may have prevented us from reading others truths, we just might find that common ground that can actually make a difference.

Just as it did this past week.

And I will even give my own example, from my own experience . . .

There is a blog I have known about for a long time . . . Production, Not Reproduction.  I know it mostly from the book discussions (one of which I participated in) and the Open Adoption Roundtables that you can’t miss if you are an adoption blogger.  But the only time I have ever actually ventured over to read the posts was when  I would catch it popping up on The Declassified Adoptee's blog roll.

Other than that, I just didn’t want to go there, I didn’t want to read it.  It had nothing to do with the writer of the blog.  It didn’t even, honestly, have anything to do with what she wrote since I never truly gave the time to learn about her experience or viewpoint.  It had to do instead with fear.

Yep.  Even us First Moms can avoid blogs because of fear.  While many adoptive parents don’t like my blog, and others, because they may face the fear of how we affect adoption, my reasons for not taking the time to read and get to know Heather’s story was so very similar to the same reasoning.

I feared, as I do often, that what she wrote, the experience she shared, was an encouragement for more pregnant women to view themselves as not good enough and see adoption as a way to give a “gift” to a more deserving couple.

Now, for any of you who know Production, Not Reproduction, you, by now, are shaking your heads and saying . . . WHAT???  How in the world could she even think that?

Which is exactly why I am lowering my head and admitting to my own personal “censorship” in a way.  Because I didn’t take the time to read, to learn, about Heather’s experience or her story.  I decided by what little I might have heard here and there that I had no reason to listen to her, to read her blog.

And then this week happened.  And then this post appeared on her blog.

And then I was smacked in the face with the truth of how I, myself, had judged and censored without taking the time to listen and learn first.

So I learned.  I read.  And then I read again.  And then I read some more.  To her IP tracking, I probably look like a stalker to her blog for the many times I visited it during the week (as well as others that I have discovered this week and am trying to read and learn from.)

Do we, or will we, ever agree on everything . . . no.  There are some obvious differences of opinions, of viewpoints.  But there is also so much common ground, so many areas where I never even gave her the chance to hear what she had to say, to realize she isn’t, and never has, done anything to justify the fears I had.

And that is where, I am hoping, as I have seen so many times this week, we will continue on and remember and hold on to the positive changes that have occurred.

Lines have been crossed that were never dared to be crossed in the past.  Voices have been heard, respected and encouraged, by so many that may have never even considered doing so in the past.

We have found new stories, different experiences, sometimes unknown viewpoints, but still found ways to come together on common ground to make a difference.  To use ALL our voices to stand up, speak out and fight for something we believed in.

That is what I hope we continue to do from this point on.  I hope this past week is the week that finds changes, understanding, and respect that didn’t exist before.

I hope it is the week that makes us realize that, although there will always be those who we cannot ever come to terms with, will most likely always disagree and/or battle with, there will always be those that are worth the time listening to and learning from because, in the end, you never know the power we all hold when we come together to fight for what we agree on, despite whatever our disagreements might be.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Out Of The Circle

I am a mother.  I own a blog.  I write about adoption.

But according to the powers that be over at  Circle Of Moms , I am not qualified to be a part of their contest for the  Top 25 Adoption Blogs by Moms .  The picture is a screen shot of the email I received from them yesterday right before my blog disappeared from the number two position on their list . . .

--“Dear Cassi,

I’m writing to let you know that we have unfortunately had to remove your blog from the Top 25 Adoption Blogs by Moms competition.  As described on the contest page, the Top 25 Adoption Blogs by Moms contest is open to “mom bloggers who write about adoption or foster parenting in a supportive, positive way”.

The Circle of Moms team” - -

I tried to write about this last night, after I had received the email, but I quickly learned I needed to step back first and let the emotions work their way through before trying to make any sense out of what I wanted to say.

And when I did that, when I worked through my first reaction, took some deep breaths and stepped away from the anger and hurt that first came at me, I remembered that my latest experience was just one in so many for those who dare to stand up and speak out about the harder truth of adoption.  It wasn’t just my voice they were silencing.  It was the voices of everyone who doesn’t fit the accepted view of what is positive and supportive in the world of adoption.

First Moms, Adoptees and even Adoptive Parents know the reality of being “removed” from society’s view of adoption.  From the expectation of what we are supposed to feel, allowed to talk about.  Every day, in so many different areas, it happens to one of us.  Yesterday just happened to be my day.

See, even though adoption involves loss, the separation of a mother and child.  Even though it removes an adoptees original identity, strips them of their equal rights, the accepted discussions about adoption must hide those facts and only serve to make people feel good, to give them that warm, fuzzy feeling inside.  Anything else is seen as straying from being “positive and supportive.”

Anything else makes you the enemy who dares to say anything unacceptable, to challenge how people want to feel about adoption.  And very quickly, you are let known that you are “less than.”  Just a mere disobedient child, unworthy of being heard.  Protective walls go up to avoid listening to anything being said and the weapons come out to attack the one who dared to try and take away that warm, fuzzy feeling inside.

I can never know for sure what led up to my blog being removed but I can look back and wonder about the many hits I was getting from the site.  About the latest post that was there,  Coercion Not Choice , and see how it must have been a huge threat to those who wanted only to feel good about adoption.   A shock that someone who would dare to write such things would even be allowed inside their “circle.”

Whatever the reasons why, it doesn’t matter.   Their attempt to silence me, to place me “outside” of those allowed to talk about adoption, only gave me even more purpose, more determination, to keep going.  To speak out.  To fight for what I believe in and stand shoulder to shoulder with all the other wonderful voices out there that face the same threats of being “removed” for what they have to stay but still continue to go on, day after day, because they believe in what they are fighting for and refuse to give up when others try to silence them as well.

And you know, what I learned more than anything through this was that my life is full of the “positive and supportive.”  I am blessed with something many of them will never know, will never have a chance to experience in their lifetime . . .

The amazing friendships and love that I have found in the years since I began my fight for Adoption Reform and Adoptee Rights.

Last night was a flurry of activity after I shared the email I received.  And though I was angry and hurting and crying and unable to respond to everything coming through, I watched and I listened and I cried even more.   Because I was reminded all over again about the amazing people that are a part of MY CIRCLE.

My circle that is First Parents, Adoptees, Adoptive Parents.  That is full of those who came roaring in last night to fight for me and comfort me, to just be there holding me up through their words and actions when I wanted to fall apart. 

They were there because when you silence one of us, you silence all of us.

My circle is not limited to those who expect others to make them feel good.  It is not based on living the superficial existence society requires of us where it becomes so hard to form true and real friendships when everybody is so concerned about being and doing what is expected from them.

My circle is full of amazing, wonderful women  . . . and men . . . who, by the very act of daring to speak out about the darker side of adoption, had to break free from such restraints.  Who have to be real, with themselves, and others, in order to continue clashing against societies expectations of what adoption should be.

Some of the best friends and people I have in my life have come to me through this circle of those brave enough and real enough to stand up for change, no matter how many kicks and hits they are going to take along the way.

I have in my life what is true and what is real when it comes to the many friends and relationships I have formed since I first started to use my voice in an attempt to make change.  Unlike those who must live by societies standards, who are threatened by and feel they have a right to silence those who don’t fit into the mold of what they want to be and expect others to be, I have everything positive and supportive I could ever ask for in the very people they want only to silence.

I can take the hits, I can fight when another takes the same, because at the end of the day, I know what I have, what is best in my life, many of them will never know, will never experience, because they are still caught up in their “need” to feel good while those in my circle know it is impossible to expect others to make you feel good, or guarantee you will always feel good.  But they also know, when you don’t feel good, they will be there to hold you, to help you, to get you through.

And they won’t do it through lies.  They won’t follow the superficial expectations that dictate how it should be done.  They will do it from their heart, from who they really are.  How they really feel.

They will do it because . . . that’s just who they really are . . . imperfections and all.

P.S.  Please continue to  vote  over at the contest.  I would love to see all of these blogs make the Top 25 . . .
The Declassified Adoptee
Musings Of The Lame
Adoption Talk
Neither Here Nor There
To Tell The Truth – Please Stand Up

Edited to Add . . .

One Option Means No Choice
I Will Pull This Blog Over