Dream Mapping Adoption & Foster Care Abolition
A collaborative session at the 2020 Allied Media Conference
Many thanks and credit to my adopted and fostered comrades and co-creators. And to @lizar.tistry for the amazing graphic recording.
Notable Essay selection, Best American Essays 2017 (edited by Leslie Jamison)
Best of the Net nominee, 2017
"The singular, unavoidable truth about adoption is that it requires the undoing of one family so that another one can come into being. And because of this, it is a practice, an institution, and a mode of family-making that is born of and begets trauma, loss, and grief...By ignoring the complex reality of adoption, we are also corroborating a sentimental narrative that drives a billion-dollar, for-profit adoption industry whose sole purpose has been successfully shifted in modern American history from finding homes for children who legitimately need them, to supplying hopeful prospective parents with kids to call their own. The fairy tale narrative of adoption uncomplicates these truths and it lets us off the hook. It makes us feel good about each other and ourselves without having to face difficult complexities and integrate them into our understanding of not only what it means to be adopted, but also what it means to be human."
Adoption is a Feminist Issue, But Not For the Reasons You Think
Originally published at The Establishment.
Reprinted in syndication at Huffpost and Role Reboot.
Top 20 Read of 2017 at The Establishment
"When I was growing up, my parents always told me how brave and smart my birth mother was. How she loved me so much that she made the selfless choice to give me up because she wanted me to have a better life — because as an unwed 17-year-old, a high school senior, she knew she couldn’t be a good parent to me. She had made this choice, they said, selflessly and graciously, with the support of everyone around her, so that I could have the life I truly deserved. My parents did not invent this language, of course; it was given to them by adoption professionals, adoption books, and support groups, and they repeated it, lovingly, insistently, until we all believed it was true. Like so many adoptees, however, the truths of my beginnings are infinitely more complicated, more painful, and have nothing whatsoever to do with choice."
In Some Darker Place
"How do we measure our worth as writers? And if we fail, how do we continue to write in spite of that real and/or perceived failure? How can we remember in those darker places that failure is a kind of rupture and with every rupture comes new openings, new points of entry, new work to be done."
HOLD: a journal, Issue One: Magic
alongside poems from Eileen Myles, Anne Boyer, and Carlos Soto Roman, among others.
"Emerging from a dream she yawps without language, gestures wildly. Writing is a similar impulse. An impossible sleep. A desperation for words that will somehow make the body real. Mimicry shapes the voice, the tone, the affect. But whose? And for whom? Can't you just be glad you weren't thrown in a dumpster? Daughter is a half-truth. In my mother's kitchen, I insist that I am a boy. In my mother's bathroom, I find a thermometer she buried in her vagina like a dipstick. She asks me, do I want it? Somewhere I hear my father tell a rapt dinner party it was his swimmers that couldn't reach the shore."
How to be a Normal Family
"1. A small girl wriggles around on the couch under a blanket. Rubs the soft corner against her cheek.
The doctor enters the room, closes the door. He tells the mother to wrap the blanket around the girl and lie on top of her. When the girl screams, her sound is muffled by the weight of the mother’s love.
I love you so much, she grunts.
Don’t you want to love me too?"