dealing with online negativity in adoption


This is a birthday card that Mr. R gave me a couple years ago.
It’s my favorite. It has a prominent place in our home office.


Many have asked me how I deal with negative info written about me on the Internet.
In fact, as though it was foreshadowing, I was featured in an article over at Mom It Forward that touched on it the day before some ugliness unraveled.

Like I said in the article, I used to cry about it. But then I realized that if you let it effect your mood, then they win.

We all have different experiences in adoption–some good, some bad, some pretty, some pretty ugly. Whatever our experiences are, they color the lens through which we see and experience adoption.

Just as it is impossible for me to fully understand adoptions that took place half a century ago, it also seems impossible for those individuals to understand the experiences of adoption as they are happening and evolving today. If you remind yourself that you do not know the past experiences of a person writing the negative post about you and that you don’t understand the lens through which they see adoption, then it takes the sting out of their words and you usually end up feeling sad for them or even pitying them.

In that way, you just take each comment with a grain of salt and let it roll off your back. Then, you enjoy the increase in your stats and page views. After all, even “negative” attention is attention. :)

Then there is my Internet Troll Handling Strategy derived from Clear and Present Danger.

Against my better judgment, let me share with you my theory and strategy behind handling personal negativity online. It is based on a scene in Clear and Present Danger:

The President of the United States just found out that a friend he had for the 40 years (Harden) was involved in some illegal activity and was murdered because of it.

His advisers tell him that they need to downplay and diffuse the situation so that the press won’t have a field day with their relationship. I imagine they were thinking something along the lines of reporting that the President wasn’t that close with this criminal.

Jack Ryan, on the other hand, thinks just the opposite. This is the part that I LOVE. He says,

I would go in the other direction. If a reporter asks if you and Harden were friends I would say, “No, we’re good friends.”

If they ask if you were good friends, I would say, “No, no we were lifelong friends.”

Give them no place to go.
Nothing to report.
No story.

For example, when someone mocks you for liking sunsets and running you say, “I LOVE sunsets and running!” (And maybe even throw in a couple smiley faces for good measure.)

Or when someone does not like that you celebrate the fact that you won a contested adoption with your son’s birth father (without bothering to get the facts right), you say,”We absolutely cannot celebrate that enough! But, his birth mother was the real winner in that the judge backed up the life she chose for her son, saving him (and her!) from a history of emotional and physical abuse by the birth father. Plus, her testimony at the trial was dyno-mite!”

Or when BYU beats SDSU and SDSU fans chant, “You’re still Mormon!” You respond by cheering, “We’re still Mormon!” (True story.)

Or if someone tries to make you feel badly for not obviously posting your name and where you live on the Internet, you say, “Thank goodness you couldn’t find that information easily, ever since that one talk at Stake Conference, I had been really worried that I was sharing too much identifying info about my fam! This makes me feel much better!”

See what I mean? Jack Ryan (errr, Tom Clancy?) is a genius. It leaves them nothing to argue. Nothing to report. No story.

What if you don’t want to leave a comment on a negative post about yourself?

That doesn’t happen to me often, but when it does you need to pause and remember. Take a moment and remember the miracle of your story no matter where you fit into the adoption triad. Look at photos. Remind yourself of the feelings you have felt. Let your story sink into your soul. Remind yourself of the spiritual nature of adoption.

Some of you may be thinking, “Well, what if there isn’t any beauty in your story?” My response is to look harder. I know and have featured several birth mothers on my blog that had horrible experiences in adoption and yet still choose to see the beauty in their stories. I admire people like that. People like Nie Nie. They give true meaning to Come What May and Love It. I want to be more like them.

I am trying.

If that still doesn’t work for you, there is always one last thing: Service.

In my case, that meant sending off a package to one of kids’ birth moms, writing a letter to Tyson’s birth dad serving his last few weeks in his 4 year prison sentence and sending a text message to the two birth mothers I love the most telling them how much I think of them, how the boys pray for them, how they are family and always welcome in our home. An open line of communication with those two women and a love fest of texts always brightens my day …and according to them, it makes their day too.

As my great grandma used to say, “If you are feeling sorry for yourself, do something for someone else.”

There is opposition in everything that we do and the online world is no exception. We can, however, do our part to help people choose to have a HOPEFUL experience in adoption.

As Mr. R and I mentioned in our keynote address at the Second Annual Adoptive Couple Retreat, most of the people in the adoption community who have a negative view of adoption have had an experience with dishonesty as it relates to adoption–from birth parents feeling lied to by adoptive couples who do not keep their promises to “adoption advocates” saying one thing on one adoption website and then changing that opinion on another site to adoptive families misrepresenting themselves to dirty rotten adoption scammers to people not bothering to do the research about you when they write about you on the Internet.

Dishonesty does not foster hope.

We can make the world (especially the online world) a little brighter by not allowing trolls in all their negativity to get us down and being as honest as we know how to be. (It’s one of the reasons why I don’t moderate comments that disagree with my opinion. Never have. Personal attacks of me or my guests will not be tolerated however and will simply be deleted. Case closed.)

Take the pledge to blog with integrity.

BlogWithIntegrity.com

Comments

  1. Lily Miller says

    I am sure that for each hater you have hundreds of lovers!! Keep sharing your beautiful story with the world and showing that adoption is a really beautiful thing!!!

  2. Anonymous says

    Yay! Jack Ryan's awesome! I used to imitate him saying, "what do I know? I'm just an analyst." …until my job title changed. ;)

    Sarah

  3. ColleenaMareena says

    Thanks so much for this. :) I think this applies to all Thinking Too Much About The Negative Stuff situations!

  4. RR says

    I try and focus on the positive of adoption..

    Jesus was basically adopted by Joseph..it really is a wonderful story!

    Miss ya sister! Stay focused you're doing a mighty work!

  5. Bean Sprouts says

    It hurts my heart that anyone has anything negative to say about you. While I only know you through the internet, I love you. As a Birth Mother being able to read your blog is a true blessing. You have inspired me in ways you will never know. When I'm missing my daughter more then usual and can barely make it through the day, I come here and your blog cheers me up.

  6. Anonymous says

    Great advice, Lindsay! I love Nie Nie's video as well.

    This is for RR –

    Jesus was *not* adopted by Joseph. Yes, Joseph raised him but adoption as you and I know it did not occur. First, under Judaic law adoption as we think of it was not legal. Second, for their version of "adoption" to have occurred, Joseph would have had to renounce Mary publicly and declare that Mary had gotten pregnant by someone else.

    As we all know, Joseph did not to this. He was obedient to the command of God through an angel and married Mary in spite of her "unplanned crisis" pregnancy.

    Jesus, Mary, and Joseph *all* knew and respected Joseph's role in Jesus' life. None of them supposed that Joseph had taken the place of Jesus' "birth" father. This is why, when only 12 years old, Jesus responded to his mother, "Know ye not that I have been about my Father's business?" (emphasis mine). Clearly, both he and his mother knew what he meant when he said, "my Father."

    Yes, adoption is at times a needful thing and good can come from it. However, using the pseudo-example of "Jesus was adopted" is not a very sure path to head down if you are looking for scriptural support and justification for the practice of infant adoption.

    Let me be perfectly clear about this: God chose family preservation for His Only Begotten Son in the flesh. God for Jesus to be raised by his young "birth" mother and a kind, loving, and dedicated step-father.

  7. Lara says

    I have been simmering on your Jack Ryan advice for a few days. I love it. It makes a lot of sense. Thank you for sharing. When it comes to conflict, many people back away and try to find a safe/neutral ground that is unattackable, but it also weakens who we are and what we believe in. It's really good to hear solid advice on how to embrace the conflict in such a way that it dissipates. Very cool.

  8. RR says

    To Anonymous,

    I was not suggesting Joseph legally adopted Jesus. Nor was I stating if he had he would be replacing God the Father as he's birth father. That was not my intention. I don't even know how you came to that conclusion.

    I continue to support parents raising children in all circumstances. That includes adoptive parents, birth parents, step parents, grandparents, and all others.

    I also continue my support to the Redfern family and my prayers to all family seeking to adopt!

  9. Sara says

    Love this. And love you too :). Now I'm all kinds of fired up and ready to get my Jack Ryan ON!

  10. Kristi says

    I am new to so many things right now (blogging AND adoption being two of them) and I have been shocked by both the support and negativity that seem to come with this topic. If you disagree with my comment, don’t worry about it! *wink*
    Thank you for your advice and… frankness :)

  11. Kristin says

    My Granny used to say “Mind over Matter. You don’t mind ’cause they don’t matter.” I fall back on that statement a lot. Of course, everyone matters in the big scheme of things, but I don’t have to let them matter to me.

  12. Megan {{Millions of Miles}} says

    Oh my goodness. I’ve been bullied online all day long today about adoption stuff, Someone on my blog FB page left me a link to this post and it has made all the difference. I’ve gotten mean comments, and mean emails before, but today was the first time that I had a whole post dedicated to demeaning me and the message we spread about adoption/foster care. It opened up a whole other level of hurt on my little ol’ feelings!

    So thank you for your insight and the encouragement that I found in this post today. You’ve just saved me hours of tears. And now I’ve loaded you into my reader so I can follow all the rest of your story ;-)

    • Lindsey says

      I would love to chat with you about this, if you’d like. I too have been bullied due to the nature of my Mormon, multiracial, adoptive family. I wonder if it is the same people.

      And so glad this post could help you find some peace. People can be ruthless in the online arena even if they are just peachy in real life.

      • Megan {{Millions of Miles}} says

        Hey Lindsey. I’m just seeing this. It would not surprise me if it wasn’t the same people at all (a select few that squeek loudly!) I’d love to chat about it. Feel free to email me meganterry01 at aol.com

  13. Shari says

    Perfect counsel at the perfect time. Another home run for Ms. R! ;)
    Just keepin’ it real…..

  14. c says

    “We all have different experiences in adoption–some good, some bad, some pretty, some pretty ugly. Whatever our experiences are, they color the lens through which we see and experience adoption.

    Just as it is impossible for me to fully understand adoptions that took place half a century ago, it also seems impossible for those individuals to understand the experiences of adoption as they are happening and evolving today. If you remind yourself that you do not know the past experiences of a person writing the negative post about you and that you don’t understand the lens through which they see adoption, then it takes the sting out of their words and you usually end up feeling sad for them or even pitying them.”

    I find this rather patronising. Actually, my opinions on today’s adoptions are based on irregularities I see in today’s adoptions. I also see these irregularities reading positive comments by bmoms – they can often be the most telling.

  15. c says

    Also, your link is on a FB page about a book which I personally felt contained worrisome text, eg:

    “The baby would need a Tummy Mommy
    Tummy Mommies are blessing mommies
    They help mommies and daddies who can’t grow babies
    by growing a baby for them”

    I’m sorry, are we talking about surrogates or bmoms? It makes it sound as if first mothers are just vessels for adoptive parents

    If you can’t see how offensive that is, then that is your problem not mine. It will send a message to the child that some women are there for the use of others.

    Btw the bmom of the child whose parents wrote this book WAS coerced. She relinquished her child because the First Presidency’s letter of counsel on this topic is thus:

    “Children are entitled to birth within the bonds of matrimony, and to be reared by parents who provide love, support, and all the blessings of the gospel.

    “Every effort should be made in helping those who conceive out of wedlock to establish an eternal family relationship. When the probability of a successful marriage is unlikely, unwed parents should be encouraged to place the child for adoption, preferably through LDS [Family] Services”

    This is religious coercion. In fact, you mock us adoptees from the 60s but the experienc of Mormon bmoms is uncannily similar to the situation for many women in that prior era.

    • Lindsey says

      LOL! I really don’t have any idea what you are referring to here. I didn’t write those words nor do I use (or even like) the phrase “tummy mommy” …so I don’t know what you want me to say about someone else’s words. Thanks for visiting, though!

    • Lindsey says

      Also, not sure where or when I am mocking adoptees from the 60s. Mostdef not my intention. Never even crossed my mind.

      Maybe you are talking about the section you pointed out in your previous comment. If so…

      Do I feel badly/upset for those birth moms that were coerced? YES! Do I know that coercion happened? YES! Do I pity them? YES! (Definition of pity: The feeling of sorrow and compassion caused by the suffering and misfortunes of others.) Do I feel badly for anyone in the closed adoption? YES! Do I wish that everyone had a close relationship with their biological families like my kids do? YES! Do I wish that everyone had access to their OBCs like my youngest son? YES. Do I think I can understand what their adoption experience is like as it is so different from mine? No, I can’t. But that doesn’t mean I don’t educate myself about it.

      Is that mocking to you? It isn’t to me.

      And FTR, I support and sustain the First Presidency of my Church.

  16. c says

    “LOL! I really don’t have any idea what you are referring to here. I didn’t write those words nor do I use (or even like) the phrase “tummy mommy” …so I don’t know what you want me to say about someone else’s words. Thanks for visiting, though!”

    Good, I’m pleased to hear that you also dislike the phrase “tummy mummy”.

    It is a line from a children’s book called “Once upon a baby – an adoption tale” – a book for Mormon children. They got some negative comments from adoptees and bmoms who found that whole page offensive. The authors of the FB page have linked to this post because they didn’t like the negative comments, whereas I feel there are times that one needs to point out when they feel they think something is wrong. I thought that perhaps you might have endorsed the book so I apologise if you have not read it or do not like it.

    In regards to your statement -”And FTR, I support and sustain the First Presidency of my Church?” does that mean you agree with this statement?:

    “Children are entitled to birth within the bonds of matrimony, and to be reared by parents who provide love, support, and all the blessings of the gospel.

    “Every effort should be made in helping those who conceive out of wedlock to establish an eternal family relationship. When the probability of a successful marriage is unlikely, unwed parents should be encouraged to place the child for adoption, preferably through LDS [Family] Services”

    Does this mean that you agree that unwed parents should be encouraged to place the child for adoption? I consider that when an elder in a church encourages an act, then that is a form of coercion.

    This view is very similar to the view in the 60s of mainstream churches and helped contribute to the atmosphere back then. In fact, reading the Mormon view on adoption has helped me to understand the BSE era.

    “I know and have featured several birth mothers on my blog that had horrible experiences in adoption and yet still choose to see the beauty in their stories.”

    I also know several birth mothers on my blog that had horrible experiences in adoption and yet still choose to see the beauty in their stories but who also know it is important to make sure OTHER WOMEN don’t go through the horrible experiences. I admire people like THAT.

    My own story is fine but I do see irregularities in the US adoption scene today which are of grave concern. Closing ones eyes to that does no-one any favours as you no doubt agree.

    • Lindsey says

      “Closing ones eyes to that does no-one any favours as you no doubt agree.”

      Totally agree. There are lots of places online that focus on what I feel is more negative. I choose to focus on what I feel is more positive–even within negative situations, if that makes sense. My right as the owner and editor of this site.

      Not shutting my eyes to it (heck, I even have “The Girls that Went Away” on my bookshelf in my bedroom), just not the focus on THIS website.

      Thanks for the chat!

  17. c says

    Sorry, I meant to say *online* not *on my blog* – because I wanted to type exactly the same line you did but with the extra bit (just to show that I agreed but with a proviso), I copied and pasted it and forget to edit those words.

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