When I first ran the guest post series 30 Adoption Portraits in 30 Days in 2011, it appeared here on my ChicagoNow blog. The comments were almost universally supportive, which is pretty astonishing for a blog series!
In November of 2012, I ran the second annual Adoption Portraits series, and whereas the comments were largely supportive, there were some people who came to the page specifically to attack the guest posters. Since it is my blog, I intervened.
Whereas it is perfectly acceptable on my blog for someone to write a comment about his or her own negative experience, it is not okay to project that negative experience onto others in the form of sweeping cruel judgments. You are welcome to come to Portrait and speak your own truth, but in this space, you may not use your truth as justification to hate an entire group of people.
For example, if you are a birthmother who has had a horrible and heartbreaking experience with your own child’s adoptive parents, you are welcome to share YOUR truth, but you may not come onto the series and generally accuse ALL adoptive parents of being unethical baby stealers. If you are an adoptee who has had a terrible upbringing and would have been better off with your birthfamily, by all means, tell YOUR truth, but do not come onto my blog and attack other adoptive parents who had nothing to do with your history.
If you cannot stay within my guidelines, I will block and delete and ban your comments, not as a suppression of your truth, but as a suppression of your judgment.
I always have and always will provide a safe place for my guest posters to tell their stories. I am proud of the fact that Portrait of an Adoption has featured posts from people who have had vastly varying experiences with adoption, some wonderful and some horrifying. I am willing to give a voice to people on my page, and the only rule is that there will be no abusive treatment of others. In fact, for those of you who think I only accept submissions that are "happily-ever-after adoption stories" then you haven't read my blog very thoroughly. I am currently collaborating with a woman who is vehemently opposed to the institution of adoption in writing her story, which will be published next month in several parts.
It took immense courage for my guest posters to write their truths and to share their experiences, and they deserve nothing but support and encouragement. Today, I have spoken with the managing editor of the Parents Section at The Huffington Post, asking them to moderate comments on my Adoption Portraits series, and they have agreed to do so immediately. This is MY series, and MY guest posters, and they will not be personally attacked.
It takes far more courage to share your story than to judge the stories of others.
And, while we are on the topic, to learn more about how to create a safe digital community, please check out my super awesome fabulous book about bullying. It deals heavily with issues of cyberbullying. And, folks, that’s what was happening in the comments section of the Adoption Portraits posts. Cyberbullying. Not activism. Not change-making. It was plain and simple cruelty.
We CAN do better. And if you want to be part of the AMAZING Portrait of an Adoption community-- where we have an incredible assortment of literally thousands of birthmothers, adoptive parents, adoptees, foster parents, Geek girls, Star Wars fans, and generally cool people-- then you WILL do better.
Portrait of an Adoption is written by Carrie Goldman, author of Bullied: What Every Parent, Teacher, and Kid Needs to Know About Ending the Cycle of Fear.
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