"Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter" – Martin Luther King
“I will assume that silence indicates agreement” stated the instructor.
I chuckled and mused about this statement. She could be very wrong.
Working in an IT department largely populated with introverts, I have learned that silence should NEVER be construed as agreement. Additionally, having worked over seas with our friends in Tokyo, I also know that cultural norms often dictate that silence is appropriate – even when you disagree. It is quite common for certain individuals to nod in what appears to be in agreement or to utter the Japanese “Hai”. This does not mean I agree. It often simply means “I heard what you said”.
The silence in the room concerned me and for some odd reason I was brought back to the Ethics conference. There was only a handful of first mothers in attendance. As at previous conferences, Claud and I asked ourselves “Where is everyone?”
We know we are not the only first mothers. Between the two of us we must know hundreds of them. Why are we consistently one of the few that come out of the woodwork? Is it shame? Embarrassment? Fear? Lack of funds to attend? Lack of knowledge? What can we do to get more of us to speak out, appear and share our stories? We know there are many of us online but online does not have quite the same affect as coming out face to face. You can make a connection in person that you simply cannot make in cyberspace. We need more of us. How can we help our sisters to come out and help make that connection?
I have told my story of promissory notes and threats of lawsuits many times online and in email. At the ethics conference, I mentioned it and people literally gasped. Several put their hands to their chest in that “OMG” gesture. They were shocked. Someone asked me afterwards “That really happens?”
Yes, it’s true. It really does happen. It happened to me. Will they remember me? Will they remember that chunky red head? Did I make an impression? When someone wants proof or experience of what is wrong with adoption, will they call on me? I hope they do.
We must come out. We must speak out. We must put real faces and real pain and real anguish in front of those that hope to make change (and even those who don’t!). Unless they see it, touch it, feel it with us, they can easily – too easily – disregard it – disregard US and the pain of the children we bear. For many, ignorance is indeed bliss. Out of sight, out of mind as the saying goes.
Sure, there were other moms there (Mirah, Bernadette, Jacqueline and others) but as is often the case we were clearly outnumbered by the adoptive parents. I highly doubt that the ovaries of the few of us in attendance have been feeding this billion dollar industry.
I urge my sisters that are working towards reform to consider trying to attend a local conference. Write your congressman. Offer to speak at a conference. Record a video and put it on youtube. If you are frightened or nervous, I am sure Claud or I or many others would be willing to help. Don’t allow what was done to you in the years past dictate what is done to you and your daughters going forward.
We need to be the change we hope to see in the world. If our voices are not heard, if we don’t object, LOUDLY, to what is being done to our sisters and our children, we can be confident that it will continue.
Silence is assumed to be agreement.
It most definitely is NOT.