Activist Annie Wu, a Chinese adoptee, said she had repeatedly heard the question, “What if you had an abortion?” It is all too common hypothetical that anti-abortion advocates have lobbied against adoptees who publicly defend reproductive rights, especially in the midst of the recent fall of Roe v. Wade.
“If my mother-in-law aborted me, it would be fine with me. I would not exist, so I would not care or be influenced,” Wu, a digital organizer of the nonprofit PA Stands Up, wrote in an Instagram post. posts.
Many adopted activists who support abortion rights say that they are uniquely placed in the crosshairs of the debate: their very existence is often “manipulated” to promote anti-abortion views – with adoption designed as the moral alternative to abortion. They experience that they are vulnerable to harassment, their experiences are questioned or made easy on, and their freedom of action is too often removed in the fight, they say.
Wu, who said she had received support from many in the adoption community, said she had been accused of supporting “murder” and was asked hypothetical questions about “someone should go up and kill you right now.”
“How do I deal with it? That my existence was a winning argument in a debate that eradicated my own rights, the rights of so many other people and has set in motion what is likely to be the unfolding of more civil rights across the board? “
Stephanie Drenka, a Korean adoptee and editor of Visible Magazine, told NBC News that adoptees have long demanded an end to the arming of their stories of anti-abortion activists and those in power.
Justitiarius Samuel Alito wrote, for example, on behalf of the majority opinion in the Dobbs v. Jackson case, that “a woman who puts her newborn child up for adoption today has little reason to fear that the baby will not find a suitable home.”
“How do I deal with it? That my existence was a winning argument in a debate that eradicated my own rights, the rights of so many other people and has set in motion what is likely to be the unfolding of more civil rights across the board? ” in Drenka.
As the 1973 ruling was overturned and nearly two dozen states are ready to ban or strictly restrict access to abortion, the setback they have had to take is a toll, say many adoptees.
“The vitriol is just the assumption that we as adoptees do not deserve to have a say in our reproductive rights because of our adopted status,” said Drenka.
“It’s just a pattern of dehumanization and the kind of infantilization that adoptees encounter. We are seen as lasting from birth, and when we grow up and say what we mean, we are silenced. ”
Although the adoptive environment is not a monolith, abortion activists are more often left with validating their own experiences against adoptive parents or those whose lives are not affected by the process, instead of other adoptees. Becky Belcore, an advisory board member of the Adoptees for Justice project, which is a Korean adoptee, said that adoptees often ask hypothetical questions about how they would feel if they were aborted. Many anti-abortion activists, she said, have tried to remind adoptees that they would not be alive had the election been given. But Wu said the argument is unclear.
“To me, it’s just like saying, ‘Well, what if your parents were just tired that night?’ Or ‘What if you used a condom that night?’ ‘She said.
Tells to feel “grateful” for being adopted and other adopted traumas
Activists also said they face implications that they should be “grateful” to be alive. Drenka said that she has heard adoption described in sunny terms as “blessing” and that adoptees should feel “lucky”. She added that like many others, on the surface, reading her own story as a happy ending.
But outsiders are unable to calculate the loss that is integrated into each adoption.
– We had no control over our situation. As much as any person born can be grateful to be alive, this is just the life we have. “
“I spent three months with a foster mother and was then adopted by a very loving white family, and I had all the possibilities in the world. I actually found my birth family and have a relationship with them,” she said. “But what people do not like to think about is the trauma that my mother-in-law experienced when she had to give up on me, as my stepfather forced her to do so.”
Belcore stressed that adoptees, of course, have no obligation to feel grateful.
– We had no control over our situation. As much as any person born can be grateful to be alive, this is just the life we have. “ she said. “It simply came to our notice then. Some of it has been very terrible for people. “
Due to the significant amount of transnational and interracial adoptions, some adoptees also handle racist or xenophobic comments. Wu said she experiences that some commentators tend to fixate on her background as a woman of Chinese descent.
“They are just asking me to go back to China, otherwise I should be grateful that I do not live under the Chinese government,” Wu said, adding that often commentators would elaborate, painting China as a particularly oppressed nation.
Not only are the comments racist, Wu said, but they are also “hypocritical.”
“What the US government is doing now is controlling a section of the population that is capable of reproducing and telling them they need to reproduce.”
But many who support abortion rights have also been guilty of making adoption easy, activists said. After a picture of a couple holding an “we want to adopt your baby” poster went viral after the end of Roe, others turned the picture into a viral meme, making fun of those who attribute the idea of adoption as a solution.
“In general, when discussing any of this, people should make sure that they are not just using something as a talk – you are actually advocating for the people behind it.”
Belcore and Wu both said that the use of humor in the situation is understandable as a way of dealing with and illustrating absurdity. But Wu stressed that these memes can also be insensitive without context.
“In general, when discussing any of this, people should make sure that they are not just using something as a talking point – you are actually advocating for the people behind it,” Wu said.
Belcore said the problem is simply too heavy to be fully represented in a meme.
“If someone thought about how they had been separated from their foster parents and grew up in another family, it would have quite serious consequences for your life,” she said. “If you just take the time to think about it, you’ll be more curious to learn more about it.”
Adoptees say they have to keep “several things true at the same time”
Adopted people say that the setback can be difficult to endure, especially for those who did not have good experiences with the adoptive family. Belcore said these calls could potentially be a trigger.
“Those of us who did not have good adoption placements, it makes people quite angry, because many do not think about what happens to the life of the child after they are adopted and the long-term effect of it when we grow into adults,” said Belcore. “It’s pretty annoying.”
Drenka and Wu said that they both have healthy, loving relationships with their adoptive parents and feel pressure to over-explain their attitude so that it is not misunderstood. Both say that the complexity of their experiences is too often erased or flattened.
“One of the most difficult aspects of being adopted is having to keep several things true at the same time,” Drenka said. “When things like this happen, I have to admit that I lived a privileged life as an adoptee, and I also experienced trauma as an infant and ongoing trauma. [from] to be disconnected from my roots and not have access to information that most people take for granted. “
But Drenka said she does not withdraw and encourages people to listen to the stories of adoptees.
“I feel like I’ve been rehearsing for this moment. I’ve been rehearsing what it means to tell my story in rooms that are not necessarily safe for years,” Drenka said. “But we know that adoptees … are usually in rooms where we feel we do not belong or no one understands. So I will continue to work to share my story if it only reaches one of them. “