The last few weeks have been bubbling in the adoption community. I head up a lot of discussion forums and am a regular reader/participant in a lot of others. Ever since the horrific and tragic shooting in Colorado, there have been a lot of people talking about how the shooter was adopted. A lot of people blamed his antisocial and demonic behavior on how he was abandoned by his biological parents, never fit in with his adopted family, and so on and so forth.
I slipped in a few comments here and there, but for the most part I stayed out of the discussion. Finally, when I saw it posting so many places, I decided to start my own thread on my own Facebook page (Open Adoption, Open Heart) about the topic. At first, when I started the discussion, I was focusing on the fact that it doesn’t matter whether or not someone was adopted. I know a lot of adopted people and, to me, it’s silly to think that they are less balanced emotionally or more prone to antisocial behavior because their genetics don’t match those of the people who raised them. I heard things like, “If he was raised by his aunt and uncle, people wouldn’t say anything about it,” and “My kids are adopted, does that mean they’re more likely to end up spending their life in prison.” The whole discussion was full of points that should be obvious to everyone. At least, that’s what I thought.
The fact that the story was false reiterated, at least to me, the need for the adoption community to stand tall. Too many people are still afraid of adoption for some reason. People are afraid of what they aren’t familiar with, or what they don’t understand. And since adoption spent so many years, up until recently, being a topic of taboo and hush hush in social circles, people are still wary of it. People in my close surroundings, who have seen my adoptions and those of other people, would be quick to say, “What’s his adoption got to do with anything” if indeed the rumors were true. But not only did someone start that adoption rumor, but the fact that it spread throughout the adoption world without the major news networks even talking about it means that there is still a long way to go before people are secure enough in their adoption thoughts to quit pointing fingers of blame. After all, if someone started a rumor that he was raised by his grandma, how far would that rumor go? The answer: not very far because nobody would care, yet, in my eyes, I don’t really see a difference.
Stand tall for adoption. Talk about it so people in the world become familiar with its beauty. If not us, who will? People need to hear about it and they need to hear about it from us. By Russell Elkins, author of Open Adoption, Open Heart: An Adoptive Father’s Inspiring Journey