Do you remember the East Indian fable about the blind men and the elephant? You probably heard it as a child.
Six blind men lived in a village. One day, they learned that an elephant had wandered nearby. The men were curious and wanted to find out more about the elephant, but since they couldn't see it, they all agreed that to touch a different part of the animal, and then compare notes:
"Hey, the elephant is a pillar," said the first man who touched his leg.
"Oh, no! it is like a rope," said the second man who touched the tail.
"Oh, no! it is like a thick branch of a tree," said the third man who touched the trunk of the elephant.
"It is like a big hand fan," said the fourth man who touched the ear of the elephant.
"It is like a huge wall," said the fifth man who touched the belly of the elephant.
"It is like a solid pipe," Said the sixth man who touched the tusk of the elephant.
They began to argue about the elephant and everyone (sic) of them insisted that he was right. It looked like they were getting agitated. A wise man was passing by and he saw this. He stopped and asked them, "What is the matter?"
They said, "We cannot agree to what the elephant is like." Each one of them told what he thought the elephant was like.
The wise man calmly explained to them, "All of you are right. The reason every one of you is telling it differently because each one of you touched the different part of the elephant. So, actually the elephant has all those features what you all said."
"Oh!" everyone said. There was no more fight. They felt happy that they were all right.
And so it goes with adoption:
If you are a birthmother who placed a child for adoption under duress, you "see" the elephant one way.
If you're a Korean adoptee raised by a white family in an all-white community, you see it another.
If you are the new parent of a beautiful baby boy after years of infertility, you may believe that you cradle the entire elephant in your arms.
You see where I'm going with this. Adoption is an emotional, complex issue. The deep feelings that each of us hold around it are intimately tied to our own personal experience; every adoption story is simultaneaously unique and reflective of the whole. As in the tale of the Blind Men and the Elephant, the arguing in the adoption world over who understands the truth is incessant. It's exhausting.
I started this blog nearly three years ago to share my own experiences and perspectives, which boils down to this:
I am right about adoption. And you are right. And you over there. And you, too. There is good. There is bad. There is beautiful.
If we are willing to listen to one another, to honor the experience and information that each of us brings to the table, maybe together we can reach a deeper understanding of the big picture. Maybe we can stop arguing and do some good for children in need. Maybe we can even feel happy about working together.