What if Freddie Mercury Led “Adoption Awareness”?

I’m suuuuper excited to see Bohemian Rhapsody. You see it?

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Another One Bites the Dust was one of the first songs I learned to play on bass. Along with Van Halen’s Runnin’ with the Devil and and Bombtrack by Rage Against the Machine.

Yo it’s adoption awareness month.

One thing I appreciated about being a musician earlier in my life was the affirmation and support bands gave to each other. I remember one summer traveling through the midwest with a band who partnered with us, playing shows together with other local groups in their respective cities. That was a blast. I specifically remember on one of our days off, we were hanging out at someone’s house and the guitarist from the band we were touring with showed me some of his riffs, helping me try it out on my own guitar.

That’s what our adoption communities are like.

We’re showing each other stuff, and in many ways we can learn from each other and try it out in our own stories.

It should happen every month.

Because you have knowledge and skills and experiences and passions, and you can share it with us online, at a conference, over coffee, through a webinar, your Instagram story, a post-it note, a song, drawing, poem, a Q&A panel, an essay or research experiment, conversation at dinner, anything!

That’s. So. Cool.

Don’t underestimate it!!

And during this “adoption awareness month,” audiences especially open up to these often underrepresented voices with an emphasis on listening to and learning from adoptees from all backgrounds and ideologies. I dig that.

It’s almost like Queen taking the stage at Live Aid in 1985 (legendary performance).

It’s not a perfect model for adoption awareness, of course. Awareness of anything needs to be more than Queen stepping off the stage, and handing the mic and instruments to all the people in the crowd who had been relinquished by the mothers who gave birth to them.

Ok so that was an abrupt transition. I know. But that’s what this month has kinda felt like for me. All of the sudden, we’re talking about stuff that often gets swept under the rug.

Maybe we should be making space for this all year round? Kinda like demonstrating love for my wife not just on valentines day. And that’s why we keep talking and brainstorming together; co-creating the evolution of this conversation and its communities.

And to ultimately inspire us to address the much larger conflicts and joys of the human experience (main takeaway from today!).

In this post, I wanna highlight a few voices I’ve heard so far this month and affirm what they’re up to… along with five callings that have left an impression on me:

Five Callings:

1. Calling for Awareness:

This point probably goes without saying, but it’s still worth highlighting.

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@changingadoption
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@dearadoption (dearadoption.com)
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@hopes_promise
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https://www.adopteebridge.org/

High five y’all, you’re kill’n it! Groups, brands, advocates, servants and leaders speaking and listening. Yes yes!!!

2. Calling for Critique

The #KAAN2019 theme, “Transforming the Adoptee Narrative,” will explore what it means to #flipthescript.

What’s the current adoptee narrative? And where do we go from here?

This article by Lost Daughters provides an insightful exegesis on Moses and his adoption story (and consequences), challenging the adoption protocol to care for orphans and widows, not just the orphan.

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At face value, I too wonder how people feel about things like that.

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I think about the suicide earlier this year, of Kaleab Schmidt. A 13 year year old boy adopted from Ethiopia. We could list countless names. But the point is the complexities of adoption are real and we’re at a place in the 21st century where we’re listening to these pain signals; realizing something needs to be addressed.

All year.

A study conducted by the University of Minnesota found “the odds of a reported suicide attempt were 4 times greater in adoptees compared with non-adoptees (odds ratio: 4.23).” The study included “692 adopted and 540 non-adopted offspring… from 1998 to 2008.” (KeyesMaloneSharmaIaconoMcGue, 2013)

3. Calling for Mentors:

Freddie Dark Lights

We need increased awareness for risk assessment and suicide prevention in the adoption community. We need more communities. We need mentors and role models. We need everything from macro-system shifts in thinking to one-on-one love and support.

Let’s strive to model compassionate, wise, pro-social, life-giving behavior. In every context. Additionally, let’s admit our failures, even asking for forgiveness when we’ve done something that shouldn’t be replicated or done again. This operates in public forums as well as in personal relationships.

In Bandura’s well known experiment at Stanford University, this young child watched an adult model engage in physical aggression on a doll. When given the choice, the child did the same thing and invented new ways to perpetrate aggression against the doll.

We’re wired to imitate what we see. I’m hoping the next generation of adoptees will have folks to look up to and walk with if/when the need ever arises (I know some of us are thinking there shouldn’t be a next generation of adoptees because adoption shouldn’t exist, and I welcome all those voices here).

We can also think about this through the psychological framework of positive and negative role models (Lockwood and Kunda, 2002).

Positive = people who we want to imitate.

Negative = people we’d avoid imitating

4. Calling for Courage:

Before pathologizing the adoptee population, I want affirm the spaces we’ve created for and with each other and listen to these important stories.

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That’s what I’m talking about. But that’s just me.

Lecrae has a lyric, “I can’t do you cuz I’m doin me.”

That kind of reframe might not fit with your plot. And that’s ok.

We weren’t meant to try to change each other’s narrative at every corner, as if I need to do the same thing you’re doing. In fact, we go well together because we’re different characters, it helps move the story forward.

5. The Call for Cultural Transformation

There’s a part in all of us that hopes to model those greatest hits of human behavior (e.g., truth, wisdom, kindness, gentleness, self control, love, courage, humility, etc.) for each other and all those who are watching.

Protagonists, villains, anti-heroes, etc… it all belongs in the story.

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http://www.thisadopteelife.com

These stories are being lived out right now. They matter and they’re important.

How we respond to, within, and from them is equally and perhaps more important.

Especially during this month we’ve got the “stage” …but it’s all pointing to a larger backdrop.

Again in the case you missed it earlier 🙂

It wasn’t about Queen.

In some ways it wasn’t even about Live Aid.

It was about questioning what’s going on in the world and asking any warm body to consider taking part in the solution.

At 21:12 they begin Is This The World We Created.

The song has many layers and I appreciate the depth of meaning and angst, honesty and responsibility, curiosity and call to action.

You know that everyday a helpless child is born
Who needs some loving care inside a happy home
Somewhere a wealthy man is sitting on his throne
Waiting for life to go by…

If there is a God in the sky looking down
What can he think of what we’ve done
To the world that He created

I wouldn’t attempt to interpret the lyrics to fit my personal or professional context. After all, Live Aid was a fundraising initiative to address famine in Ethiopia. The sentiment was appropriate to compel listeners to contribute.

BUT…… in addition to faith and commentary on social justice in general, I notice a narrative in there that speaks to adoption. It’s one that’s being challenged right now in 2018.

I wonder what you make of it?

And then, even if/when “adoption” becomes resolved, another issue will take its place.

Whenever humans are involved, things get messy. The same heart that corrupted the birth and care of children……. is the same heart that will corrupt the solution to it.

I think that’s where I want to work.

Who’s on stage? Adoptees? Parents? Institutions? Agencies? Hospitals? Insurance companies? What matters most is WHY the stage is there.

There are a million people in the audience who need to say something into the mic.

Something valuable that demands we listen.

One of those messages is we live in a world where people give birth to babies, sign a piece of processed tree, and they become separated from each other perhaps for the rest of both their lives.

There’s a part of me that sees the need to change that culture.

BUT/AND there’s another part of me, maybe a more hopeful side, that says we can live deeply satisfying and vibrant lives despite that culture. And that’s the call for transformation I want to elevate.

I’d put that on the backdrop banner and give Freddie the mic.

Not to minimize adoptee pain. But to maximize adoptee potential.

Not to discount adoptees’ narratives, but to dismantle that which holds us back.

You are not bound to your circumstances. Your circumstances are merely the workroom from which you demonstrate Eternity. The breadth, depth, height and length of it.

That’s where you belong.

Me too.

Global cultural change starts individual cognitive change.

Summary

  1. Calling for Awareness
  2. Calling for Critique
  3. Calling for Mentors
  4. Calling for Courage
  5. Calling for Cultural Transformation

….ah so I kinda wanna finish the story… anyway I spent the rest of the summer practicing those new guitar riffs I learned. Could never play them the way he did and maybe I wasn’t meant to. I played them the way I did. And I’m gonna incorporate them into all the other stuff that makes me me… and share it with you, so you can add it to your whole special mix of wonderful and so on….

If anyone every needs to talk or ask questions or feel like you wanna say things out loud to me, please feel free to email me at therapyredeemed@gmail.com or through this page and we’ll connect.

Follow @therapyredeemed on Instagram for more content related to adoption, theology and psychology.

You can also connect at my facebook page fb.me/therapyredeemed and send messages at m.me/therapyredeemed.

As always I’d love to hear your thoughts on these callings. What did I miss, what would you add?? Leave a comment or email!

References

Lockwood, P., Jordan, C. H., & Kunda, Z. (2002). Motivation by positive or negative role models: Regulatory focus determines who will best inspire us. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 83(4), 854–864. https://doi.org/10.1037//0022-3514.83.4.854

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