Friday, November 7, 2008

age-regression photos

i joined an adoption writers website. i don't really know why i did that, just seemed like the thing to do. i haven't spent much time on the site, but in my very limited experience with it, it seems to be a lot of adoptive parents and PAPs. there was an entry by an adoptive mother on one of the discussion boards that absolutely stunned me. since i am too new (and not really a writer-- at least not yet) i decided that the right place to vent my reaction to the post would be here, on my own blog. i tend to be a bit abrasive at times, but even i know that i should probably not alienate the majority of members in my very first post on a strange new site.

the entry was about age-regressed photos for older adoptees. the woman was apparently devastated by her 4-year-old adopted daughter's sadness about not having her baby photos in the family album. rather than allowing this to be a part of the process of this child's self-understanding and affirming the truth of her life experience, this mother had a photo made of what her daughter *might* have looked like at age one. the 4-year-old was delighted, of course. she's four! not exactly old enough to understand the perpetuation of falsehoods and myths that continually surround the adoption experience. not old enough to comprehend that the creation of a false image can only serve to remove a child even further from her own reality. not old enough to know that encouraging the continued denial of the fact of adoption can and will serve to shame her and confuse her about her own story.

but this mother is old enough. old enough to understand that meeting a momentary need of a four-year-old who doesn't understand her situation by creating a tangible lie can not be part of the process of understanding that in her life story, bits are missing and will always be missing. this can be accepted, discussed, affirmed and honored, or it can be shrouded in shame, denial and lies.

when this child grows up and learns the details of her story, where is this photo going to fit? how will she feel about it? i am sickened by the whole idea. if any adoptive parents read this blog, please consider the degradation of real life experience that this photo-shopping option represents and don't jump on that band-wagon when it comes through town.

5 comments:

phil said...

Wow! That is a rather abrupt way to get introduced to an on-line community. That's sort of a horrifying story.

(An aside: OF COURSE you are a writer!)

shelly said...

i am, um, yes, horrified. i feel tempted to change my "bio in 100 words or less (fewer)" to: Are You Fucking Kidding Me?!?! i don't think i belong there.

phil said...

My own experiences with adoption discussion online lead me to believe that it's really important to find a safe place to talk about it.

There are a lot of people out there who don't want to hear anything even remotely negative. And they don't care for nuance.

And, for me at least, it's too raw of a topic for me to want to feel either put-down or that I have to censor myself.

I know there are a couple of writers on the discussion forum in our sidebar (though the forum itself is not dedicated to writers). Surely there are other places where you can feel more... at ease. :)

Anonymous said...

Our caseworker recommended we ask our 12 year old if she wanted a picture of what she might have looked like as a baby or toddler since she had no photos at all. The caseworker said some adopted children do want pictures. It makes them feel more like other kids at school, etc. Our 12 year old did want one and we were able to find a photo with her characteristics that she is delighted with and said it looks like the baby pictures she remembered. I think, like most aspects of adoption, it is an individual choice.

Anonymous said...

THE AGE REGRESSION PHOTO IDEA IS NOT MENT TO HELP SUPPORT OR DEVELOPE A LIE OR CLOUD THE WAY THE CHILD CAME TO BE BUT RATHER TO ACTUALLY PROVIDE AN INSIGHT INTO HOW THEY WOULD HAVE ACTUALLY LOOKED LIKE AT THAT AGE. NOTHING MORE, NOTHING LESS. AS LONG AS THE FACTS ARE NOT OBSCURED NOR DISTORTED ABOUT THE ADOPTION PROCESS. I CAN ONLY SEE HOW WONDERFUL HAVING A BABY PHOTO TO ADMIRE AND SHARE WITH SOMEONE WILL BE. I PRESENTLY DO NOT HAVE ANY AND CAN'T HARDLY WAIT TO GET MINE SO I CAN SEE MYSELF THROUGH MY MOTHER'S EYES ALSO.