The first year that I ran my series, 30 Adoption Portraits in 3 Days, it featured twenty-nine positive, hopeful stories and one critical, unhappy story. I was scared to publish even that one negative story. I was afraid of what might happen; I was worried that it would upset adoptive parents to read about an adoptive family that was unkind.
But my readers were welcoming, supportive — even lovely — in their responses to the woman who wrote about her bad experiences with her adoptive family, and it encouraged me to seek a broader variety of stories for my second annual series.
The more submissions I solicited and read, the more I learned. I began to care deeply for each of my guest writers, and I discovered a new empathy for the impossible situations in which adoptees, birth parents, and adoptive parents can find themselves.
I began to question many of my assumptions about adoption, and I recognized that much of my adoption beliefs had been influenced by the narrow tropes and stories portrayed in the entertainment industries. I am now fully comfortable with the truth that my daughter has two mothers, and I love that we are in the twelfth year of an ever-evolving open adoption.
By the third year of my series, it had gained a reputation as a safe place for birthparents, adoptees, and adoptive parents to share their truth and their experiences. Not surprisingly, this brought many new readers to Portrait of an Adoption, some who are not at all fans of the concept of adoption. I often remind people: bring your ideas, yes, but leave behind generalizations, labels, bullying and cruelty.
In this year’s series, you will read some adoption stories that make you uncomfortable. You will read the words of a birthmother who was treated poorly by her child’s adoptive family. You will read the words of an adoptive mother who was treated poorly by her child’s birthmother. You will read the words of adoptees that have been truly wronged by the world. It is not your job to judge or blame, but rather to read and empathize and support.
In this, the fifth annual series, you will also read some adoption stories that make you smile with joy. Stories of hope and perseverance and child-centered love. Even if your own experience with adoption has not been positive, it is not okay for you to dismiss or invalidate the happy feelings of someone else. Each individual story is just that – an individual recounting of one person’s perspective.
We are all of us human — birthmothers, adoptive parents, adoptees, foster parents — and these portraits will reveal both the flaws and the beauty that adoption brings out in people. Be supportive, be kind. Be as critical as you want of the institution of adoption, but do not launch any personal attacks against another member of the community, or you will be removed from our community. It only works if it is a safe place.
This series has accumulated hundreds of thousands of views because it is so inclusive. People will keep submitting their stories as long as they know this a forum where I have their backs. We are a community here. We have done amazing things and helped so many people find support and comfort here.
I am not only an adoption author, but also an anti-bullying author, so I will uphold the highest standards of digital citizenship on my series.
May the Force Be With Us All next month! #adoption #flipthescript #NAAM #30AdoptionPortraits
Portrait of an Adoption is hosted by author Carrie Goldman. Are you looking for an awesome children’s adoption book? Check out our new release Jazzy’s Quest: Adopted and Amazing!
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Check out Carrie’s award-winning book Bullied: What Every Parent, Teacher, and Kid Needs to Know About Ending the Cycle of Fear (Harper Collins, 2012).