In part one (read part one first), we examined the “B” of the BITE model: Behavior Control. In this second part we move on to the I: Information Control. As a refresher, let’s establish what the BITE Model is, and also present our caveats.
The BITE Model was developed by Steven Hassan of the Freedom of Mind Resource Center, which is an organization that seeks to identify and expose controlling groups such as religious cults. This series seeks to apply the BITE model to aspects of the Mainstream Adoption Narrative, most notably as it is often practiced and perceived in the United States.
****But first, all the regular caveats: *Yes, not all adoptions/adoptees/people. *No, I don’t speak for all adoptees. Just myself. If other adoptees resonate with what I write that is about those individual adoptees. *No, I am not angry and unhealed…just thoughtful, observant, able to explore complexities, and expressive. *Even if you still think I am angry and unhealed…yes, I covet your prayers. I will pray for you as well. Leave prayer requests below. *If your response to reading this is “so what is the alternative?” I invite you to read our FAQs where this question is answered. *My opinions do not mean I had a “bad adoption” although even if I did…I would still have a right to my opinions, perhaps even more so. ****
- DELIBERATELY WITHOLD OR DISTORT INFORMATION: For most of us domestic adoptees, our original identities are locked up in a courthouse. For the states that have opened the Original Birth Certificate, these states still do not allow access to the adoption RECORDS from the times of their relinquishment and adoption (such as intake, social worker notes, relinquishment papers, medical records from pre-adoption, etc..). Many adoptees who have since reunited report that the “non-identifying” information given to them by their agencies were completely scrambled if not outright falsified. This was commonly done by agencies in the pre-DNA era to help prevent identification of birthfamily. For Intercountry adoptees, many report having the exact same relinquishment and adoption story without much variance. Generally it goes like this “you were abandoned (in parking lot, hospital, etc..) and then your records were lost in a fire or a flood.” (I learned this from Cherish Bolton of PEAR). Also, many adoptees report being told false information about their biological families by their adoptive parents, that they found to be untrue when in reunion.
- FORBID YOU FROM SPEAKING TO EX–MEMBERS OR CRITICS: Adoptees are frequently forbidden to speak to their biological families. Most open adoptions are closed within the first five years according to some reports that I have read. Adoptees who speak in the open forum regarding anything negative about adoption are often admonished that they must be silent so they don’t influence young adoptees who have not been exposed to the adult adoptee community yet. Adoptees speaking honestly are frequently silenced and dismissed by statements such as “she is just angry and looking for something to blame” and “don’t listen to them they are just so broken and bitter their voice is irrelavent.”
- DISCOURAGE ACCESS TO NON–CULT SOURCES OF INFORMATION: Many agencies and adoption facilitators have suggested reading lists and testimonials that are very subjective so as to represent adoption as a monolithic and guaranteed GOOD, as opposed to giving information about its true complexities and traumas. Most adult adoptee sources of information and sharing are labeled “anti-adoption” without understanding what that term actually means. We are categorized unfairly, and our position unjustly represented.
- DIVIDE INFORMATION INTO INSIDER VS. OUTSIDER DOCTRINE: We see this almost daily online. Many seek to divide us into happy vs. angry adoptees, good vs. bad adoptions, healed vs. unhealed adoptees, grateful vs. bitter adoptees, and traumatized vs. non-traumatized adoptees. Very rarely are we seen as full humans, who have the full range of human experience (ie, happiness AND anger, good AND bad, grateful AND not, etc..). We are rather expected to fall into and represent binary categories. When we don’t, we are often publicly shamed and blamed and mischaracterized.
- GENERATE AND USE PROPAGANDA EXTENSIVELY: Examples: #adoptionislove #adoptionisthegospel #familiesdonthavetomatch #adoptionrocks #birthmomstrong #bravelove #adoptionistheoption #adoptionnotabortion
Besides common hashtags, we also have mass campaigns such as “Positive Adoption Language” which seeks not only to educate outsiders how speak about adoption less offensively, but also seeks to inform how the adoptee themselves interprets their own adoption experience. (ie, placed vs. given up)
Also notice the large amounts of adoption and reunion “porn” that we are inundated with. Just recently the video of the four year old ICA saying the words that every hopeful adoptive mother dreams of made its rounds on the intrawebs. Reunion stories are turned out on shows like “Long Lost Family”, solidifying the impression that adoption is win-win-win for everyone and for all of their lives.
- USE INFORMATION GAINED IN CONFESSION SESSIONS AGAINST YOU: How will that little girl mentioned in the point above ever be able to express anything except what she did in that video for the rest of her life. If ever she expresses a difficult feeling, she will likely be reminded “but no, remember what you used to say”. How many of us adoptees have been met with people in our lives objecting to what we say with something like “well when you were a child that isn’t what you said” or “that isn’t what you said 5 years ago”. The insinuation is that we must be exaggerating, malingering, seeking sympathy, falsely blaming adoption, or outright lying because of something we said previously.
- GASLIGHT TO MAKE YOU DOUBT YOUR OWN MEMORY: See point above. Also, even strangers will object to an adoptee telling a story of neglect or abuse at the hands of their adoptive parents….”but they loved you so much, rescued you, gave you everything!”. Even adoptees will do that do each other. You can see it here on this public page. In the closed group I run, an adoptee shared the very painful experience of being abused and used as unpaid labor on the “family farm” after being adopted from another country. Another adoptee objected to his story saying “you weren’t abused, that is just life as a farming family.”
- REQUIRE YOU TO REPORT THOUGHTS, FEELINGS, AND ACTIVITIES TO SUPERIORS: Case by case in adoptive families. Those raised within controlling religious families have been subject to religious and spiritual abuse at the hands of their adopters, their religious community, and by the “adoption is the gospel” narrative. This evangelical paradigm is rooted in Patriarchy, both of the family and also as the local “Body of Christ”, where deference is demanded towards “spiritual fathers” and “leaders of the flock”. Confession and outward repentance are regular requirements.
- ENCOURAGE YOU TO SPY AND REPORT ON OTHERS “MISCONDUCT”: Spend any more than a month in adoptionland, and you will learn that there are “spies” and moles in almost every adoption group. We also do this within our own community, basically eating each other for lunch.
Stay tuned for Part Three, “T” for Thought Control.