Sunday, April 15, 2012

The Whole Elephant: Why All Adoption Stories Matter

Do you know the Buddhist story about five wise people and the elephant. A king brings an elephant into his thrown room. Then he brings in five "wise" people, who all happen to be blind. He positions them such that each is touching a different part of an elephant. He tells them they are touching something called an elephant and asks them to tell him what it is like. You probably can guess the rest. Each describes one part of the elephant, and then they fall to arguing about who is right.

The adoption community is like this. We have different experiences and perspectives. We are adoptees who searched and had successful reunions and those who searched and experienced rejection ... and we are those who choose not to search. We are adoptive parents who embrace and struggle with the complexity of adoption and those who connect only with joy and contribution. We are birth parents filled with rage and grief and those who are at peace with placement. And these are but a few of the many places that we touch the elephant.

What is your experience? What part do you touch? I have at times described myself as an "advocate," but I am more accurately described as a story teller. And a story listener. I speak my truth and I want to hear yours. I want the whole elephant.

Copyright (c) 123RF Stock Photos

25 comments:

  1. Hear, hear! I want the whole elephant too :-)

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  2. This is beautiful. Completely beautiful. I think that with this story telling we do, it gives us the opportunity to open our eyes and see perspectives we have never viewed. I think we do a disservice to one another when we deny each other the ability to tell our differing stories.

    I consider myself an advocate in the making, but I am still telling my story, and still realizing intricate things about myself. I can't advocate for anyone until I am at peace with my own story.

    Beautiful, wise post, Rebecca.

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  3. Wonderful post, Rebecca! And Danielle, appreciated your comment as well.

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  4. "Seek to understand before being understood." Great post Rebecca! I keep asking myself why it is even important to me that my story be heard at all. I guess I have a gut feeling that the diaglogue is going to happen with or without me, and I'd rather have my stories included. But this post is a great reminder that my story, my experience is not complete unless I consider everyone's story.

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  5. Both parts are important! I had a situation recently where I listened but didn't speak up, and that threw the whole dialog off-balance, too.

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  6. I agree with Danielle. Completely. Hearing others' stories keeps my eyes open and keeps me accepting of all kinds of different points of view instead of just ones that agree with my own. It also makes me appreciate what I have even more because I see on a daily basis relationships that are already broken, never existed to be broken,or are breaking down. Breaks my heart.

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  7. I feel like we all should talk about our experiences! I have learned so much by reading the stories of others who have walked all sides of the adoption journey. Everyone walks this journey differently and that is what makes it unique and for me, an awesome opportunity to see things differently. Great post!

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  8. There's always something new to learn. While we keep telling our stories there will always be someone new to listen and hopefully to hear.We have far to go and increasing numbers to travel with us.

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  9. I love this! I've been struggling with how to tell my story as an adoptive parent without inadvertently negating someone else's story. This analogy helps me to see that everyone's experience of adoption is valid and true for them and each story contributes to the entirety that is adoption. It also affirms for me the importance of respecting everyone else's experience and learning from them. Each one of us comes to adoption from different perspectives and we need to acknowledge and embrace each person and their truth. I think this analogy is so perfect. Just like the proverbial elephant in the room, adoption cannot be ignored. It needs to be recognised and discussed if we are going to deal with it. So it also reaffirms the importance of openness about adoption that I believe should exist. I only hope that we can be "wiser" than the wise men in the story and not insist that our view is the only correct one. If we all work together, we have a far better chance of arriving at some understanding of this creature called adoption.

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  10. I Love this and have shared in my FB group Families Through Domestic Open Adoption ... on a personal note in reading this I see how even in one family our experiences and outlook are so different from the perspective as an adoptive parent, our children the adoptees, and their birthparents. Listening to all of us, really listening is what makes our relationships work even through the hard times ... and that's what is important ... allowing the different perspectives, feelings and harmonizing what we have together inside and outside our family :)

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  11. Great analogy! We adopted from foster care, too. But, we have no contact with the birth mother. (We do try to stay connected to the siblings, though.) I only recently discovered all the different viewpoints, after being in the circle of mom bloggers contest. Such as it was. :)

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  12. such a lovely post. sometimes I feel like I'm doing a disservice when I don't/can't tell more of our adoption story. but I know I'm just trying to protect the others, for whom it is their story too, to share or not. thanks for this!

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  13. Some stories emerge in their own time. :-)

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  14. Thanks! That was the one good thing that came out of the Circle of Moms snafu ... exposure of more viewpoints. :-)

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  15. Thanks for your comments and for the facebook share!

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  16. Thanks! Appreciation your comments. I hope I can be wiser, too.

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  17. Glad to be on this road with you, Von.

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  18. Thanks, Monika. I know what you mean ... breaks my heart, too.

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  19. I've often thought of this metaphor, too! It's so easy to think you're right about your piece of the puzzle and forget that there are other pieces that make up a bigger, more complicated thing.

    There are power in stories, both the telling and listening parts.

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  20. Power in stories ... yes! Thanks. :-)

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  21. I love this analogy Rebecca! I think we are all better off for hearing each other's stories and learning that it is all part of adoption. It's not just the sunny, rosy, happy stories and it's not just the horror stories either...it's all of it and all those in between.

    Thanks for joining up with A Real Adoption Blog Hop!

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  22. Hello Rebecca. I find your blog and writing style very refreshing. We are seeking stories of first-time moms of age 35 or older for the advancedmaternalage.org, our project. Would you or anyone you know have a story to share? I am a biological and a foster-to-adopt mother and co-editor of the project. I'd enjoy hearing from you.

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