I was attracted to a Medium article today with the title LINK>Understanding Adoption – Epistemological Implications by Shane Bouel today. The image hits a deep place. It was created by Thoughtless Delineation – AI ART. Just today, I posted “There are 2 good things in life – Freedom of Thought and Freedom of Action.” I am borrowing from and adding my own insights and understandings to the article linked above.
However in reading the linked article I find reason for deeper contemplation – “All social behavior is guided by values. Thus the study of social behavior can never be value-free if value freedom is interpreted in the sense of the absence of values because the values of the society under investigation form a part of the social facts to be studied by sociology.”
He goes on to say – “Knowledge and power are linked. In order to reveal the nature of the knowledge/power nexus and its relationship to the process of adoption we must not only ask what we know about adoption but more importantly, ask how we come to know what we know about adoption.” He is actually talking about adoption in Australia but I expect what he has to say applies here in the United States as well.
Adoption is a social construct. The understanding of adoption by those considered experts – social workers, mental health professionals and policymakers – places them in a powerful position as the creators and arbiters of knowledge related to adoption. Their understanding of adoption has a particular influence on the way it is presented and represented both theoretically and as practice. Therefore, some understandings are a result of distortions of the knowledge process. These distortions are products of validating certain kinds of knowledge by promoting certain narratives and silencing others.
Statements about the real nature of adoption become everyday knowledge for most people, especially those with no direct experience of the practice. The habit of understanding social phenomena like adoption with our personally unquestioned beliefs (because they are scientifically legitimate) instead of first attempting to understand the nature and origin of those beliefs is especially evident when we take a holistic view of the experience of being adopted as expressed by many adoptees.
Some would have us believe that the primary motivating force behind much excluding, value-free social research has been conspiratorial, that it has been little more than a premeditated and conscious desire by the powerful to control the less powerful. However worse is the acceptance, legitimization and application of objectified, positivistic notions about the real nature of adoption. These deny us access to the multi-level experiences of those (adoptees and birth parents) who have been subjected to it. Moreover, blind faith in the power of positivistic social science has further resulted in the institutionalized devaluing and belittling of those suffering its effects. Those individuals who have been, in some way, consumed by the process and who have spoken out loudly about their experiences have been viewed as little more than emotionally charged, angry and therefore irrational persons out of touch with reality.
Not only has the individual affected been blamed for the socially created, contradictory, unintended and unwanted effects of the adoption process but they have also been systematically alienated, ridiculed and stigmatized. Adoption has been portrayed and presented as given, unalterable and self-evident and as a consequence, it confronts the individual as a historically and scientifically justified, objective and benign process and therefore, it is undeniable fact. The biography of those consumed by the process is apprehended merely as a reactive, subjective personal episode, separate and distanced from the institution of adoption. Many affected persons experience adoption objectively as coercion and in many cases worse, as an oppressive force.
He has much more to say. It is time well spent to read his worthwhile essay.