I read a lot of blogs, on all sorts of divergent topics from dogs to vegetarian cooking to adoption to home schooling to Atheism and back again via academia and anime. Usually there is little relationship between anything I read. Lately, however, I have been noticing the same thing happening in two areas: blogs by home school graduates and blogs by adults who were adopted as children. Both groups are now, as adults, casting an often critical eye on their childhood experiences and making suggestions for how parents can prevent making the same mistakes with their children. Both groups are constantly being criticised by home schooling parents and adoptive parents for being “too negative”, “anti-“, in some cases having their stories challenged or dismissed altogether and of course, the classic “your parents just did it wrong, the system is fine!” / “Your experience was an aberration, the VAST MAJORITY  had wonderful experiences and you should shut up and stop ruining it for everyone.”
|From the comments thread of Homeschooling on the Open Seas|
I find this baffling. Before going into adoption I wanted to be prepared. Part of that preparation was reading what adult adoptees, particularly transracial adoptees, have to say about their experiences. I read a lot of blogs by adoptive parents, too, but I place a higher value on what people who experienced being adopted, as opposed to adopting, have to say. One reason for this is how frustrating I have found it when my parents try to “correct”my statements about home schooling. They weren’t home schooled, I was. Being home schooling parents does not qualify you to talk about the experience of being home schooled. I say “baffling” but I guess it isn’t, really. Both adoptive parents and home schooling parents are making decisions they believe are in their children’s best interests, sometimes at great personal cost. I remember a home schooled friend’s mother talking about breaking down in tears when they made the decision to home school because she really, really didn’t want to but felt that she had to do it for the kids. I understand that it must hurt to receive not gratitude but criticism. When it isn’t just within the family, though, I really don’t get it. Every single time someone who was home schooled writes about how they struggled with social issues a dozen rabid home schoolers pop into the comments section and demand clarification: “Not all home schooled kids are poorly socialized! Not all schooled kids are well socialized!” Of course, this is true, and I have never seen anyone claim otherwise. On the other hand, how many home schoolers bother to clarify statements like “schools crush creativity and individuality” or this:
|Image taken from When Homeschooling Gets Crunchy|
And, in anticipation of the criticism I will get for pointing this out… no, this is not an anti-home schooling post. I don’t think all home schoolers are rabid, just the ones who stalk home school graduates. This is about parents silencing their adult children’s voices, whether it is an adult who was home schooled as a child being harassed by parents who are currently home schooling, or adoptive parents dismissing the pain expressed by an adult who was adopted as a child. First hand experiences matter, it is the reason blogs are so important to me as a source of information. If you are an adoptive parent, you have firsthand experience of being an adoptive parent but not of being an adoptee. If you are home schooling your children but were not yourself home schooled, please don’t tell us what home schooling is like.
If you have no idea what I am talking about but are interested, here is some further reading:
Under Much GraceOmitting the voices of adoptees of color and only asking white adoptive parents to recount their experiences of transracial adoption is a subtlety of structural racism.
I became acutely aware of the First and Second Generation Adult within or post-homeschooling when working with Hillary McFarland in the preparation of Quivering Daughters. SGAs, the “quivering daughters” themselves, loved the drafts. Their First Generation mother pioneers hated it far more often than not – and I had not anticipated the reaction at all.
Adult adoptees have so much wisdom to offer because they know how it feels to grow up being adopted. It is way past time for the industry, the media and legislators to acknowledge their voices without insulting their motives.Darcy's Heart-Stirrings
For those of you invalidating our stories, saying "it wasn't that bad", can I ask you to take a step back for a moment? To gain a broader perspective? Because what may have been only a small part of your life, was our ENTIRE lives. You were adults when you chose to attend that Basic Seminar, when you picked up your first courtship books, when you decided to promote the modesty culture, when you chose to become part of a patriarchal system, when you made the choice to spend your kids' childhoods sheltered from the world in your own little reality and the culture you created. But us? We were born into it. We were raised our whole lives immersed in it. We spent the most formative years of our cognitive and emotional development in an alternate religious culture ruled by fear, shame, legalism, and authoritarianism. We had no choice. We knew nothing else. We had no other experience and knowledge and discernment to ground us like you did, to give us perspective, to compare anything to. For you, this was 10-20 years of your life. For us, it was our whole lives. It was all we knew. Our entire lives have been built upon a time period that was just a small part of your own life. So, yes, it was "that bad". Our experiences were nothing like yours and you'll have to see them through our eyes if you want to understand.Gazillion Voices
What do I want to write and talk about? I want to write about the number of adoptees who struggle with suicide and suicidal ideation because they lack a continuity with the past and because their attempts at continuity are denied by agencies that withhold birth family information, about the number of adult adoptees who are divorced because their identities are so wildly in flux it is hard for a partner to keep up, about adoptees who perform childhood even as adults. I want to write about loss; about issues with body image because for our whole lives, our faces did not reflect our immediate families or societal images of beauty; about attachment issues; about not eating or overeating as a representation of nurture; about substance abuse. I want to write about the structural inequalities on a global, political and economic scale that fully manifest when an adoptee attempts to hold the poverty of their birth parents alongside the privileges of their adoptive parents, and especially, when that adoptee tries to love them both.