Saturday, November 21, 2015

Kristen Chenoweth Does Adoptee Community a Disservice By Her Recent Article on National Adoption Day

I have seen Kristen Chenoweth live at the Women of Faith tour in Columbus, Ohio.  I admire Kristen’s musical talents and abilities.    I respect that she loves her parents and that she believes that her adoption is the biggest blessing of all.

However, I just cannot bear that on National Adoption Day she thinks it is o.k. to refer to herself as “an adopted child," tell future adoptive parents that their child is a gift and that they were chosen to be their child’s parents.  I cannot bear that she describes herself as “chosen” in 2015 and tries to tell other adoptees how to feel.  She writes:

“And then, lastly as an adopted child I encourage other adoptees to remember what blessed lives we have. We weren't abandoned; we were chosen. We were given a chance. I'm not saying it's not hard or that it's easy for people to understand. But it really isn't for the world to understand; it's for the people who are involved.”
Not every adoptee had a blessed life because they were adopted. Plenty of people have blessed lives without adoption; however, telling people who were actually abandoned that they weren’t and trying to lend out your rose-colored glasses to the rest of us to buy into the chosen myth, is just tacky, and it does all adoptees a disservice.

It’s almost like she is saying, “Look! It worked out perfectly for me, so everybody be grateful!"

I wonder if she honestly believes the myths she is perpetuating or if she is just trying to get more press for herself on National Adoption Day.  I will go with my first thought, because I always like to give people the benefit of the doubt. And I have no doubt Kristen Chenoweth is completely and totally in the fog.  She assumes that her biological mother did the loving thing by placing her, but I have a strong suspicion she does not know that as fact.  I would venture to say that she doesn’t really want to know, because if she found out differently (say, that her mother had no maternal instinct and wanted to escape parenthood or that her mother dropped her off at the local Burger King), her entire worldview might turn upside down.  

Many women place out of love, but it is a myth to believe they all do.

This thinking outside of the script might cause Kristen to question her Christian faith or maybe even question God as to why her? She might have to quite possibly admit to herself that there may be something behind all the rainbows and skittles she is peddling. If she contemplated the bigger picture, she might feel pain at her newfound awareness and feel compelled to put her time and energy into righting the wrongs within the industry.

I would have felt more respect and admiration for her if she would have encouraged parents to adopt children from foster care instead of using her celebrity to hammer a few more nails into the #flipthescript movement.  

I do, however, appreciate Kristen’s closing comment:

“Whether we decide to become parents or simply volunteer our love and time, it's our job as a community to take care of our kids. On National Adoption Day, I hope you remember just that.”
Yes, it is our job to take care of our kids and one way we can do that is to critically examine the institution of adoption and how it currently treats children as both commodities and as extra special compared to regular-born people. We have an urgent need to increase education and awareness about the complexity that adoption creates in people's lives and  using clich├ęs such as “chosen” and “gifts” to discuss a very complex topic like adoption is not only unhelpful, it is damaging.  

Another way we can take care of kids as a community is instead of promoting the private adoption industry, we could take all the billions of dollar being generated there and funnel it back into helping foster children.

My hope for Kristen Chenoweth is that next National Adoption Day, she will use her celebrity to encourage transparency and less greed in adoption.  I'm not holding my breath.

I have a feeling Kristen will always and forever be seen by me and many of her other adoptee fans as: 

“the adopted child who never grew up and thought critically about the institution of adoption."


16 comments:

  1. I see your point..but she is entitled to her own experience and to share that experience as her own....

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    1. I agree she absolutely does; however, there is a fine line between sharing your personal story and telling other people how to feel. But it is also the predictable "script" that people want to hear . . . .which is what I take issue with.

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  2. She has always said that she is very fearful to meet her bio parents…she totally tears up talking about it. She is truly afraid. And maybe she has drunk the kool-aid…I am not one to judge her.

    She has had her own experience as we all have, and I think she is entitled to her opinion. Her opinion, however, does not apply to me…it does not have to as my story is VERY different from hers.

    I have no idea what it is like to have been raised by healthy, nurturing adoptive parents, but perhaps that's her reality….HER reality.

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    1. Thanks, Julie . . .and you are completely correct . . . I'm sure she is a fine person and has fears like all of us . . .she is completely entitled to voice her opinion and write 100 articles just like this one . . . . but at some point there has to be an opposing view when these types of articles pop up as they do all the time. Nothing against Kristen -- it's the message that bothers me.

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  3. Being alive is complicated, especially when there is any question about whether our presence on earth was actually WANTED. I agree that Ms. Chenoweth DOES oversimplify the adoption paradigm in her article - I'm glad she's had a good experience being adopted but you also make astute observations, Lynn, about the less-than-good outcomes that can occur. The ideal, of course, is that EVERY child is wanted - I wish that had been the case for me! https://marilyn801.wordpress.com/2015/10/01/i-want-to-be-wanted/

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  4. Thank you Marilyn. . . .as an idealist, I wish the same -- that every child was wanted. Thank you for commenting.

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  5. I was fine with her story, while it was still her story. That quote at the end where she encourages ME to feel the way she does? That made me angry. I am NOT an adopted child. I was not chosen; I was placed. And I am very very very tired of being told how I should feel about things in my own life.

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    1. I was placed as well and very fortunate, in my mind, that my mother never called me chosen, lucky or special. I thanked her for that this week.

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  6. The term "chosen", which I was told many times... even as a small child, I remember thinking of a big warehouse with crib after crib of children, some crying, some not... and my parents walking up and down the aisles to "Choose" the baby they wanted. I love my all of my parents, adopted and birth even though I never met my birth parents. But not every adoptee sees "chosen" with the same rainbows and unicorn glitter as others.

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  7. The term "chosen", which I was told many times... even as a small child, I remember thinking of a big warehouse with crib after crib of children, some crying, some not... and my parents walking up and down the aisles to "Choose" the baby they wanted. I love my all of my parents, adopted and birth even though I never met my birth parents. But not every adoptee sees "chosen" with the same rainbows and unicorn glitter as others.

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  8. The term "chosen", which I was told many times... even as a small child, I remember thinking of a big warehouse with crib after crib of children, some crying, some not... and my parents walking up and down the aisles to "Choose" the baby they wanted. I love my all of my parents, adopted and birth even though I never met my birth parents. But not every adoptee sees "chosen" with the same rainbows and unicorn glitter as others.

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    1. Thank you for sharing that Michele. As "chosen" was never part of my own adoption story, nor the one I share with my daughter, it was part of the mythology of closed adoption so much so that it is still being thrown around in 2015. There are a few stories of parents that really did choose a child, but it does objectify human beings to be thought of as products to be purchased at a shopping mall. Similar to the terminology of "Gotcha Day" -- it feels objectifying to me.

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  9. One way we can help kids is if Parents instead of being self absorbed actually gave back to kids they didn't give birth to instead of telling others to give back.

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  10. This is such a enormous kettle of fish for me (one that has coloured my 56+ years on the planet) that I almost hesitate to comment at all, for fear of a commentary that might be without end or in cutting myself short for the sake of brevity and gutting and desecrating my entire life's experience. I was adopted at birth - told about it as a child (for sure I knew by the time I was in grade 1) - I don't recall being referred to as "chosen" (nor do I hold myself in that framework now) but my parents did language that they "chose" to have me. As neither could participate in the biological creation of a baby they did choose to adopt - the rest was up to the random selection of the process. You choose the shirt you're going to wear - that doesn't give it any special status once it's been selected. As for other elements of the articles etc. that are referenced here - absolutely the author can share her life experience and that's great if it was an overwhelmingly positive experience; that's where that right ends, she certainly has no right to proclaim the "blessing of adoption" and project that outward as though it is the universal experience or should be. In relative terms my "experience" was blessed (by that I mean I wasn't moved pillar to post through various orphanages or foster homes as is the experience of some) so I had the consistency of one home and parents (though I would not go so far as to say stability). So one could suggest that because I didn't have some of the more "horrendous" circumstances as part of my experience - I should be grateful and while I have in retrospect (and endless personal healing work) achieved a perspective of gratitude, I will not let the traumas absent from my life - diminish or dismiss, those I did suffer. It is known to be true now that babies experience the emotional and energetic state of their mother - they are bathed in it while in the womb. How much "wanted," cherished, bliss do you suppose is present for a baby that is being carried in a decision to "adopt?" The surname that accompanies this post - is not mine! It belongs to the family where I was "chosen." From that point forward my identity, spirituality, culture, ancestry was being over-ridden - the same way colonialist/imperialist cultures invade others lands and lives and attempt genocide through assimilation! Mine has been a lifetime of healing that! It has only been recently that I have come to decide that I will take the name O'Neill - it represents my heritage, my ancestry, my spirituality and is an outward manifestation of an inner transformation - will I live long enough to fully integrate and live into the truth of who I am? Perhaps it is about coming home and beyond that - it doesn't matter.

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