I belong to an Open Adoption Blogger webring. Some of you might find this curious since, of late, I rarely seem to blog about adoption. Sure, I’m very forthright about how our daughter joined our family and have no shame about adoption or infertility. It’s just that initially when I wrote about open adoption, and specifically our open adoption, there arose some issues with Boundary Crossers…issues that I’ve not fully resolved.
Boundary Crossers exist in any area of the internet. They can range from gnat-level annoying to full on bring-da-noise trolls. Now trolls are ubiquitous on the web, but the Boundary Crossers and Boundary Crossing trolls are a particular breed that I am speaking of. These people do not respect boundaries between people. Truth be told, many of these people seem to believe that the universe ends at the tips of their noses. They do not understand that their worldview, ideology, perspective is just one of many worldviews, ideologies, perspectives and that all of these may be valid in part or in whole. The idea of pluralism of thought is anathema to Boundary Crossers.
Boundary Crossers are among the first people to tell you that your feelings are wrong when you share your thoughts about a particular incident online.
- You shouldn’t feel that way about it.
- When that happened to me, I didn’t feel like that.
- I think you’re overreacting.
I ascribe to the commonly held position that feelings are neither right nor wrong…they just are. And as such, judging someone’s feelings is a nonsensical proposition. Is the person receiving the judgment supposed to hear the judgment and say, oh, this person on the internet who has no meaning in my life is so right in this judgment of my feelings that I’ll stop feeling this way right now! If the point is to help the writer see an alternative perspective, one can achieve that without invalidating the person’s feelings. Yet despite how someone else may interpret the situation or experience, the writer’s feelings are real and valid for the writer…period.
A good example of this Boundary Crossing came in the Open Salon comments for the post, You Know You’re Black in Corporate America When… As is common when someone posts about race or gender or anything specific to the author and not fully generalizable, there is always a need/attempt to make the experience apply to those outside the racial or gender group described. Always. It’s a bit of the Don’t Be So Sensitive Syndrome. I expected this and even preemptively addressed it in the post itself. However, there was a commenter that took this annoying gnat type of Boundary Crossing to bring-da-noise troll behavior when he decided to critique my feelings about my experiences. This asshat in a repeated back and forth exchange insisted in a browbeating, my-way-or-the-highway type of posturing that his assessment of what I should feel as a black woman in corporate America was more correct than my own assessment of my feelings. In other words, his feelings trump my feelings. And if that isn’t Boundary Crossing, I don’t know what is.
The other feature of Boundary Crossers that I’ve seen is the belief, no, the expectation that everyone will have a similar experience to his/hers. Again, no space in the brain for pluralism.
I once had an offline discussion with a woman who was having big issues with her friend’s decision to selectively reduce her pregnancy from triplets to twins. She continued to share her opposition to this reduction with her friend, even when the friend had asked her to stop doing so. In speaking offline, I was trying to get her to respect her friend’s boundary (since she had come to the board looking for help in doing just that). In the dialogue she confessed that her anti-abortion vehemence comes from the fact that 20 years before, she had felt pressured into an abortion by her partner. Had Planned Parenthood and abortion not been available to her, she explained, she would not have been able to have the abortion that she still regrets 20 years later. Now in my head I’m thinking, Holy crap, Batman! What a way to deconstruct taking responsibility for the choice she made. Instead, I said, “This would be a very paternalistic solution to prevent women from making choices. And there are many women who have abortions who do not have turmoil and regret like you do. What about them?”
To which she replied, “It’s hard for me to fathom that there are women who have abortions who don’t have this awful pain and regret.”
Alas, the universe does end at the tip of her nose. She would limit the right to choose because she cannot see that there are women who could get through the experience intact. So this Boundary Crosser is operating from her universe of one framework. I did push back and say that another option that would be equally effective in preventing what she faced would be to make premarital sex illegal. That way, she would never have had sex outside of marriage, gotten pregnant, and been pressured into having an abortion. But how reasonable and Draconian is that solution? She had no answer for me.
[And please, my readers, I’ve no wish to get into a debate on abortion. I’m merely illustrating a narrow worldview with this example.]
So this brings me back to the point of this post: blogging about open adoption. As part of the Open Adoption Roundtable, we OA bloggers have been asked to address OA topics periodically in our blogs. And I have dawdled in addressing the first and pretty benign query: What one thing about open adoption would you tell your past self, if you could?
This delay has some to do with my fatigue/impatience with Boundary Crossers in general. For the most part, I keep the blog light mostly because of lack of bandwidth. Who has the time and energy (when one has a full time job where they seem to expect you to work for your paycheck, a two year old, an AdoringHusband, and a really cool camera) to deal with trolls, flame wars, and kerfuffles on the Interweb? From time to time, I will post on something deep and I can handle the flak easily when the issue pertains only to me. But posting about adoption hits me in another place entirely.
Before I started blogging about my infertility journey, I had no idea that there were people who were anti-ART (advanced reproductive technology). Yet these people and their blogs are more off the beaten path. Most of my support sites and friends were enough to compensate. Then when we moved to adoption, I was surprised to learn how many people were anti-adoption. Even among those who weren’t out-and-out against adoption, there were angry firstmothers who said that they were coerced by duplicitous adoption agencies, adoptees who said they felt broken, unwanted and less than. And all the talk of trauma, deep trauma. When I dared pose a question about whether open adoption could just “work,” I was accused of being some fantasy-riddled adoptive mom who had drunk too much of the Kool-Ade.
It hurt, those words. But the pain was not about me. The pain was about this little innocent that had been entrusted to me and my husband by her firstmother. The pain that still brings tears to my eyes is that, according to their words, the simple fact that her firstparents made an adoption plan and we were chosen as adoptive parents…that fact alone: the adoption will be enough to break this beautiful little girl…this girl I love so much that it is hard to breathe when I look at her. This little girl owns my heart and soul. I do not want her adoption to break her. I want her psyche and her lovely self to remain intact.
Yet when you blog about open adoption, inevitably the Boundary Crossers will arrive to say the words that no parent wants to hear about the future their child faces. Their words, more often than not, are based on their experience alone and their connection with others who have had the same experience. There is no room in their minds that outcomes may be different. Zara will be broken and her firstmother Josie (a pseudonym), who I adore and mentor, will also be broken. There is no way around it, they admonish.
While I can deftly handle the Boundary Crossers in other areas of my blogging life, when it comes to dire predictions about my child’s and her firstmother’s future relating to an event that cannot be undone (nor does Josie want it to be undone), I am not so skilled. For the past year, I’ve just not blogged much about adoption and focus instead on our adoption triad. I don’t go into the world of the adoption blogsphere as much. Yet today the question becomes, how can I participate in this valid and valuable Open Adoption Roundtable without appropriate defenses for handling the Boundary Crossers?