July 4, 2007

"Nothing About Us Without Us"


"Now that we know what we have—Jesus, this great High Priest with ready access to God—let’s not let it slip through our fingers. We don’t have a priest who is out of touch with our reality. He’s been through weakness and testing, experienced it all.  So let’s walk right up to him and get what he is so ready to give. Take the mercy, accept the help." Hebrews 4:14-16 (Message Bible)

"Nothing about us without us" is a term I first heard in the autism community as they advocate to be included in advocacy reform efforts regarding their lives.  It resounded with me as an adoptee.

I wrote this a few years ago in my prayer journal after attending several OK Adoption Review Task Force meetings (open to the public) at our state capitol.  We adoptees sat on the outside of the circle listening in as the "experts" (those who make their living doing adoptions) argued over money regarding our lives.  Passionately arguing that adoption "fees and expenses" in OK shouldn't be "capped" because it might make OK less "adoption friendly". 

Adoption is supposed to be for children who need homes.  Yet adoption law and practice leans not towards protecting the human rights of children and families, but towards the profit gained through paying "parents" who need children.  It is a business and adoptees are the commodities. 

I'll stop writing like this when adoptees are in the inner-circle of decision-making in this reform effort, and not marginalized into the corner by those who speak for us.  We are either perpetual children who don't have the capability of self-advocacy or we are property (with no humanity, rights, or voice).  We are to be seen and not heard.  Give us our original birth certificates and take the money out of the adoption equation and I'll stop comparing adoption to slavery.  We are the only other citizens whose identities are stolen and sealed upon a paid contract.

Dear Father God,
It is hard to lift my head or pen to you after silently listening to hour upon hour of debate regarding our price tags...stripping us of name, family, and dignity.  We are transferred through payment, approved by law-makers and courts, but with no relegation of rights.  A sealed contract of which we are subject, but not party to.  

We feel like chattel or property, rather than human. 
Our identities changed to be acceptable.
 Our worth deemed through fulfilling a role.
No rights to our identities or self-determination. 
We are second-class, not by our birth, but by these legal constraints.  Never on the same level as those determining our fate, even in adulthood. 

Please deliver us.

Some day the politicians, courts and brokers will fall silent and the paid contracts will be unsealed and undone.  We will be set free like birds out of the cage and our collective voices will be heard.  The secrets will no longer silence us and we will sing our songs of search and suffering under "sealed" identities and lives. 

They will no longer debate our cost before our silenced cries.  We will arise.

Society had no room for you when you born, Jesus...you understand.

You had to set aside your identity and live a life of substitution...you understand.

Fate argued by government officials, strangers...you understand.

They cast lots for your covering...you understand.

You paid the price for other's greed and selfishness...you understand.

Abused, ridiculed, misunderstood, spat upon for speaking truth...you understand.

Deemed radical, marginalized...you understand.

A life given for the highest bidder...you understand.

Father, forgive them...they know not what they do...You understand.

"Sealed" in a tomb, guarded day and night....you understand.

Yet the "seal" could not contain You.

May the adopted ones arise and walk free from sealed identities and tombs of dark unknowns.

Please shine your light and reveal the hidden agendas of those who fight so hard to hide their business of greed and ownership and deny us our identities. 

We shall know the truth, and the truth shall set us free.  Deliver us, we pray.   

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