Close encounters of the contact kind

My post today forms part of the Weekly Adoption Shout Out theme – contact.

Direct contact – close encounters of the third kind.

I make no bones of using this opportunity to plant a few thoughts.

However your family is made, imagine for a moment being together.  There will be love and laughter, conflicts and hopes, truth and denial, loss and increase; celebration and heartache – all in one room.  If we had to give that melting pot of experience a name, it would be something deeply evocative emotive; overflowing with depth and timbre.

In our adoptive families, they would have us believe the name of that gathering is ‘contact’.

Contact: a junction of surfaces, mutual tangency of the limbs of two celestial bodies, the junction of two electrical conductors, an association or relationship [Mirriam Webster].

Contact: an authority centric, institution focused, top down term that sanitises basic human bonds and strips them of all their wonder and emotion [Mumdrah]

Contact: a euphemism that tastes bitter on the tongue; tinny, awkward, hollow, municipal.

Contact: an instruction that communicates duty; an obligation to be endured.

Contact: a scene coloured with the grey of secrets, suspicion and partition.

Contact: a concept that turns a family encounter into nothing more than a meeting.

Contact: a word that transforms a family into alien nations struggling to overcome translation.

Words are powerful; metaphors for our cognitive framework. They inform our thoughts, our feelings and our actions.  This policy wonk terminology of adoption sculpts the lives of everyone and anyone who enters. Unaware, we inherit this pervasive language and it shapes our families to its own design.  Our use of it builds a restrictive cage around us, and perpetuates the trauma and isolation of adoption. It divides us and separates us, and upholds a system that is way off course.

These sterile words keep us all from a different way of thinking and understanding; one that could feed and nourish the road to healing and wholeness.  By using them, we collude and ally ourselves with their negative values. The mindset these words creates seems to undermine and fracture the families they describe.

Indirect contact.  Direct contact: all I can think of are those five iconic musical notes.

Think now how differently it would feel if instead of ‘contact’ we:

Gather. Visit. Party. Flock. Swarm. Throng. Huddle. Rally.  Assemble. Powwow. Get together.

I work hard not to be infected by this terminology of adoption, and I reject their words #bethechange


4 thoughts on “Close encounters of the contact kind

  1. Hi and first, sorry it’s taken me some time to get here. You write with such intelligence and comprehension about the world of adoption. You have such a clear way of putting out there what is indeed a very complicated web of misunderstanding and misinterpretation. Well done for yet again making me stop and consider just what it is we do and why. x

    Thanks for linking to the Weekly Adoption Shout Out

  2. Phew! In a wifi hotspot so can reply for a change : ) I love your challenging of the language. You are so right that words can so easily be used to belittle or make light of the emotions behind the things we feel our way through.
    As always LOVE your writing xxxxxx

  3. Hello

    My name is Nettie Stone, I am a part time writer and full time mum!

    I have been writing for as long as I can remember, on different topics, but recently I’ve been focusing my attention on writing about children and babies. I’ve recently started writing for blogs and was looking to see if you were interested in a mutually beneficial partnership where you share my work.

    I was hoping that you might consider me as a contributor on your site, I would not expect any payment.(I’m just looking for a little exposure!)

    Here are some ideas I had in mind for an article:

    - Which toys are best for babies? Looking at positive cognitive effects.
    - Tips on how to balance a career and a young family
    - Best places to take a baby for a summer holiday

    What do you think?

    Look forward to hearing from you soon.

    Warm Regards


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