Monday, October 11, 2010

What's that about, drinking the adoption Kool Aid?

Keep drinking the Kool Aid, it must be good. Kick the Kool Aid habit. Stop drinking the Kool Aid and wake up!

I have heard things like this quite a few times from those who do not like the positive voices in adoption. There is a large force that wants to convince voices like mine that we have fallen into the trap of the adoption industry, that we have been brainwashed to believe that adoption is good. I do not believe that I have been lead to believe anything but what were my truths, and my decision was not a coercion that adoption was good. I can tell you that I have been very happy with the way that life is going for my children and myself, so I do not agree with the the immense hatred towards adoption. I especially do not agree with the immense hatred towards content birth mothers. But I digress....

So what does it mean? Why the Kool Aid connection? What does that have to do with being happy in adoption? Some birth mothers have told me that it has to do with being a kid and liking the yummy flavors and being lured by the sugary sweetness of adoption. Others have told me that it has to do with being druged with Kool Aid so that they sign the papers and be happy about it. Those are a couple of ways to see it. However, I asked someone who said it to me one time what it meant because I had an idea, but I wanted to hear it from a source to be sure I understood. With one short sentence my thoughts were confirmed. "Ever heard of Jonestown?" Why yes I have, I actually remember when it happened.

In the late 1970's, Jim Jones was a cult leader of the People's Temple who moved his entire following to Guyana. Mr. Jones obviously controlled his congregation and gained outside attention when a Congressman from California took an interest in Jones' tribe after some distraught family members contacted him with concerns. After a life time of wacko and too many prescription drugs, Jones' final act was to convinced the entire following that mass suicide was the answer for everything. He forced them all to drink various poisons and sedatives that were mixed in a vat with Flavor Aide, or as some would call it ... Kool Aid. He lead many, many people to believe something that was not true, and so sadly convinced them to leave this Earth, some killing their children in the process. How very sad that it happened, and the world was shocked when it occurred. The power of someones conviction projected onto others became a massacre of unthinkable proportions. (The Congressman, Leo Ryan, was also killed and to this day is the only Congressman to be murdered while holding office.)

This story has a LOT to do with the reference that I speak of with peaceful and dare I say it ... happy people in adoption: that we are all just drinking the poisons of the adoption industry. Following along with what they tell us to do. I see their point, but it is a huge insult to those who do know their truths, who have had communication and been successful in our journeys so far. Yes, I know that there are states with adoption agencies that DO lie, DO manipulate and DO sometimes force one to separate with their children. I am one who did deal with an agency that tried to tell me what to do and I said no. I stood up for myself, and my child, to tell them how it was all going down. I did not agree with what they said was best, so I made a change. I did it my way, making sure that everyone around me knew that I was making the decision ... not someone else!

Drinking the Kool Aid is an insult to many, many women and adoptees out there who are told by others that they do not know their stories, their lives. I am wide awake and have been for a long time. I have seen the good and continue to tell about the positives of open adoption no matter what you think I know. In the end you don't know my story, and we obviously have had different journeys if you believe in that negativity. So to your insult of drinking the adoption Kool Aid, I say make it a flavor all your own and be happy with the life that you live. My batch is cherry-delicious. OH YEAAAAAHH!!!!!!!!

My Kool Aid Trophy


The Smith's said...

Awesome! Love this post!

Anonymous said...

Denying the fact that there are still too many lies and coercive tactics in adoption doesn't make them go away. It's great that you placed without falling prey to the unethical practices still in place in today's industry.

But don't expect respect for your happiness if you can't accept the fact that there are many of us who were lied to in order to procure our children.

There is room enough for all. Ignore the people who are trying to dismiss your story -- they have their own issues to deal with. But don't dismiss the real issues at hand either. Tell your story. And let others tell theirs. Really, there IS room enough for all.

Kelsey Stewart, Author said...

Agreed Anon. I know all too well that there is a lot of denial in adoption and many who have not had the journey aht I have had. Thank you for reading.

A Life Being Lived said...

Great post Kelsey! I also get offended when I read about the "kool aid". I am a very new birthmom (July 2010) and while I struggle still, because it is a process and a journey, I would never say that anyone forced the kool aid on me. In fact, I created a kool aid recipe from scratch, procured the incredients all by myself, mixed it to the perfect consistency, and drank the entire pitcher myself! Ok not literally. I know that many women, especially from other eras, had very, very different experiences with adoption than I do, or you do. I understand and empathize and my heart cries for women who have had bad adoption experiences or feels that it is a cult and they were forced to drink the kool aid. Yet women with positive experiences, like yourself, that should keep sharing their stories, because it helps lift the load for everyone. I also read adoption stories and blogs that aren't so positive either, so I can gain more understanding to that part of the triad as well. It's amazing that anyone involved by adoption can be judgemental towards others involved in adoption :(

Kelsey Stewart, Author said...

Love your attitude Life! And I could not agree more with reading all you can in adoption. It is from so many of those voices that I have learned exactly what I am grateful for: progression. It was a different decade for me where being open was something I COULD ask for, but I do understand their invaluable opinions of the way it used to be for them and unfortunately, the way it continues to be for some even now.

Thanks for coming to read and for your great comment! May your pitcher runneth over!

FauxClaud said...

I have my own feelings about the Kool-Aide and yes, I admit I was a drinker! I hated when people told me I was in denial and questioned my truth, so I really do not doe same to other moms. It's not my job to try to force my views on anyone else.

That said.. I can only say ..keep your mind open. Adoption IS a life long journey and HOW you feel now IS likely to change. Don't dig in your heels so far defending your stance that you don't allow a new truth to emerge.

I wish that everyone who felt it is a good thing to relinquish stays happy, but there IS a HUGE difference between a mother who went through the process and has a young child and one that has lived it a few decades and can see the full expanse of the loss. Just know, that IF you do get to a difference place, you have sisters who will still understand.


Kelsey Stewart, Author said...

You are absolutely right Claud! I agree that there are many different opinions on the kool aid and there are many different stages to this journey through life as a mother of loss. You are one blogger that I read consistently and I love your honest writing. I did read your post on this subject and I do know that there are many out there that have been duped by the adoption industry. I am glad that I had the gumption and courage to say "NO!" when I needed to and ask the questions that were hard to ask during my adoption processes.

I know that many see me as a unicorn and rainbow mother, but I have had my share of bad days, months and even years of pain and sorrow. I DO understand that not every one will have the experience that I have had, and I do not try to knock those that are still hurting in their journey. I just try to support those that MAY be content in their own journeys.

Thank you so much for coming to read and even more so for adding your voice to this topic. More so, I appreciate that you can see what I was trying to say and for offering the support of those on the side of which you come from.

As a fan of your writing and your opinion, I always like to see what you have to say!

Coco Rogers said...

I think part of the issue is that mothers who relinquished and feel content are still very much praised and held up as "good" and "normal" by many adoptive parents and adoption industry propaganda.

On the other hand, those of us who regret relinquishment, even when coercion was blatant and obvious, are shouted down as bitter, angry, unstable, and "abnormal". We're accused of making excuses to blame others for our choices; choices we may not have actually had. We're told we should have kept our legs closed. We're shamed for taking the "joy" out of such a "beautiful experience".

For years, I told myself that what I did was selfless, good, best for my daughter, Christian, you name it. I vigorously defended adoption as best in all cases. As my daughter has grown into a young woman, I have begun to remember things that were definitely coercive. I take responsibility for myself and my actions, to be sure, but I would give anything to go back and fight for my baby girl.

Additionally, I've come to know some very wise adoptees. Some are very anti-adoption, most are very pro-family preservation, some believe that there is a need for adoption in certain circumstances. The thing is, their individual adoption experience has very little to do with how they view adoption now. I have spoken with adoptees who had very positive adoptive family relationships and are still very much opposed to adoption as it stands today. So, again, your children could be "fine" with adoption now and feel much differently later on. I think it's important to be prepared for our relinquished children's anger because they were adopted, regardless of the circumstances.

Similarly, it's often difficult for many adoptees and first moms to reconcile "happy" first mothers with their own feelings of loss, abandonment, anger, and sadness. So when you say "You're dismissing my happy experience as a first mother," can you see that at the same time, your happy experience can open up a raw wound inside for those who are hurting over adoption? In the same way, can you see that mothers who were truly forced or coerced can feel slapped in the face that you're happy having chosen adoption, when they want desperately to turn back time and parent their children? No, I'm not saying you shouldn't tell your story or that you don't have the right to feel what you feel. I'm trying to illustrate that we need to listen and accept those hard stories, the anger, the sadness.

Your feelings and opinions may never change, which is, again, your life and your experience to share, but at the end of the day, the painful truths are just as real as yours, and these have been silenced unfairly for a lot longer than happy stories have been challenged.

I don't do a lot of adoption writing any longer, because my heart just couldn't take it after so many years of saying the same things over and over, and often failing to make a dent in the propaganda. However, I hope you'll continue to reach out to Claud and other excellent adoptee and first mom writers, as well as to explore your own story. I hope you'll speak out against agency practices targeting vulnerable women and their babies, because feeling as you do, you have an opportunity to reach many adoptive parents who might otherwise dismiss the evidence as coming from "bitter" people.

And regardless of whether we agree or disagree with one another, I would never wish unhappiness upon you or your children.

Thanks for listening.

Kelsey Stewart, Author said...

CoCo, you have no idea how much I appreciate you coming and sharing these brilliant thoughts on the issue at hand.

You are so very right in that both sides can be hurt by things said, or opinions made. Your points are right on, and anytime someone is willing to share with me their story I will listen. With eyes wide open and ears ready to take it all in.

I do not use the word bitter in adoption, for I know how much it hurts people. I have come upon many who were coerced, were shamed, were forced into adoption and I in no way try to compare my experience with them, rather I try to bring to light what others have been through. I do my very best to shine the light that needs to be shown on adoption reform, and just like you I sometimes feel that I am talking to a wall.

This post generated after I had been to a conference with many other mothers, like me ... who were content .... and it sprung from a series of very nasty comments that I received in writing about the kindred spirits I had just had the pleasure of meeting. What was thrown at me was hurtful, mean and plain prejudice in regards to the kind of person I am. When people see me writing about my peace, my story they immediately think I am a young inexperienced mother. That I am not. Over twenty years I have been walking this line and to be honest there are not many things that can disrupt my core. But I found that the judgement that was being placed on me at the time made me realize that SOMEONE needed to speak out for those like me, supporting those who feel belittled like me. Simply. Because.

I research and read much more about adoption than I used to, and have found that my opinions on some things have changed quite drastically as I am schooled on our country's past in regards to adoption. I understand much more than I used to, and often shed light on voices that many may not want to hear. I find that in this vast world of adoption online there is always more to learn, more to discover and for that I am grateful.

Again, thank you for reading and commenting. I hope many more read your words and ponder what you have to say.

Poor_Statue said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Robyn C said...

I think a lot of the commenters have missed Kelsey's point. She's not denying anything. She's not dismissing anyone else's feelings. She's asking people not to dismiss HER feelings.

There's a difference between saying, "I'm a birthmother and I'm happy with my decision." and "I'm a birthmother, I'm happy with my decision, and you should happy with yours too." I think it's clear that Kelsey's saying the former.

It's true that feelings can change over time, but Kelsey's been a birthmother for 20 years now. Her relinquished children are adults, though young ones. She doesn't write much about them, but what she has written indicates that they are happy with their adoption experience thus far. On Kelsey's part, barring anything life-shattering, I think she pretty much feels how she's going to feel.

Kelsey being content with her decision need not offend anyone or diminish anyone else's feelings. My cousin had a baby in August, when the woman who scammed us was supposed to be due. Did her happiness offend me? No. And if it did, it would have been my problem. If she had flaunted it, perhaps I could have said something to her, again realizing that one person's happiness at a completely unrelated event is not about me. If an adoptee who is not Kelsey's child is upset that any birthmother could be content with her decision to relinquish, that's hardly Kelsey's fault, especially if that person comes to Kelsey's blog.

I find that Kelsey is always respectful of other people's feelings. She considers her words very carefully. I think other people tend to take their experiences and find fault with Kelsey's words when they don't match up.

Ultimately, Kelsey doesn't tell other people how to feel and she doesn't want to be told how she should feel either.

c said...

I personally would never accuse anyone of drinking Kool-aid, only they know their own situation.

My only concern is that I feel sometimes that expectant moms considering adoption are having to do so in a severely compromised atmosphere - ethics in the US adoption scene flew out the window a long time ago (i.e. if they were ever in the house to start with).

Sometimes I feel there can be a little bit of misinterpretation by different parties, eg I personally feel that the less adoptees & bmothers created in the future, the better; and some might interpret that as saying I don't like adoptees or bmothers (I am an adoptee). Personally, I think anyone who wishes there were more adoptees/bmoms in the world are people who don't like adoptees and bmoms but that is just my opinion.

Kelsey Stewart, Author said...

Poor Statue, I apologize for your comment being deleted. I had no idea that I deleted it or what it was that you said. Not sure why it happened. Sorry.