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.


  1. Good one Cassi, we'll be singing Kumbaya yet!!!! x

  2. Love Heather's blog. Great post, Cass!

  3. Cassi,
    Ultimately, you and so many people were able to transform a gross mistake (COM contest) into a positive experience for many people who care about adoption.
    Thanks for your post--you are clearly willing to push yourself toward even greater personal growth from all this--and I appreciate your honesty and the courage that it takes to admit your own blind spots (i.e. your discussion about the Production, not Reproduction blog). You are so right about fear. I think most people (minus the true sociopaths) really want love and happiness for everyone. And I think sometimes, people get so attached to their label/position in the triad, and the labels themselves take on a set meaning in one's mind, that render people unable to listen to other positions. So hopefully, all of this has extinguished that way of online interaction, even if for just a while.
    I'm new to blogging but what has been very interesting for me is that I don't fit neatly into any of the adoption categories: I'm not a first mother, not an adoptee, not an adoptive parent, not an adoption worker. What is fascinating, however, is that I am drawn to all the first mother blogs. I was feeling like an impostor, like someone who shows up at a support group for cancer patients but does not have cancer. And I had to ask myself...why do I relate to these stories instead of the other prospective adoptive parent blogs (who had failed adoption attempts)?
    Well, after hanging out some more and reading more, I finally figured it out. It is the trauma connection. It is PTSD. While I cannot claim to understand the specific trauma of losing a child to adoption, I have my own extensive trauma history. And though it is not the same specific offense--the flavor of trauma is there. I realize now, that the unethical practices of the adoption workers in our aborted adoption have triggered my own trauma history. Also, seeing what our first mother was going through and not knowing what was the right way to respond. And still, I am worried for her. It was all such crazy making.
    Anyhow, I just wanted to share this with you and the community. I guess my point is that what is getting exposed here is not even just about adoption trauma. It resonates with anyone who has been victimized/abused by a system that then covers it up and puts on a happy face.
    Best to everyone,

    1. (((Jennifer))) that makes so much sense. And you are spot on with this comment.

  4. Cassi,

    FANTASTIC post (as always). It was a very strange, crazy and interesting week - and that was just looking into it all from someone on the outside. I can't imagine how mixed this was for you.

    Much love always xxx

  5. The amount of support for you has been utterly amazing.

  6. Beautiful post. Cassi, thank you for reminding me to push past my comfort zone. There have been many times in my life when this has been difficult, but rewarding.

    I am so proud to stand by your side.

  7. Great post Cassi! I also read the blog post Who Deserves to be Heard on Production, not Reproduction and was pleasantly surprised. It was my first time seeing the blog and I'll be back to read some more. Like you, I've sometimes avoided certain sites. Mainly because I just assumed I would end up feeling angry or upset and I didn't want to go there. If we can remember to not make assumptions or censor like COM did, we'll all be better off. Thanks for your great blog!

  8. It takes courage to admit fear or a reluctance to walk for a bit or glimpse another's journey. I respect that you did that this past week and respect everyone who stood up for what was right this past week!

    I had never commented to your blog before the Circle ousting but simply could not stand by and not lend a measure of support in the face of bullying. (That's what I call it!)

    Today I am commenting again to share with you that I'm hooked! I'm a blessed AP (and AA) and have big enough britches to read and by proxy experience it all through the lens of those who were not blessed but rather traumatized by adoption.

    True change and understanding can only occur when all the voices are allowed and even moreso, respected as one person's truth.

    I have not always agreed with your posts and probably won't again down the road. But there is plenty of room for common ground and respect for the author who shares it. Thank u.

    Liah Adult Adoptee & AP

  9. Great Post Cassie! You are such a talented writer-- really. Hopefully, the events of the past week will give more folks reason to take pause and open their minds to hearing differing views on adoption. Life is an elephant.

  10. I never expect to change the minds of those who find my position on adoption and adoption reform; it's like trying to convert a conservative to the liberal point of view--or vise versa. And it is usually personal--as in the case of the Circle of Moms That Does Not Include Us Renegades.

    I just learned today that one of our powerful opponents in New York will probably never vote for our OBC bill because of the "confidentiality" issue. He once told a constituent of his that his sister was a birth mother. Probably she has never discussed her child or who she feels with this bigshot legislator, he remembers her pain, or maybe she is so far in the closet she can't see the light. It's always personal.

    So we must just keep on truckin.'

    I think this whole kerfuffle certainly must have opened some eyes.