To the trolls and the haters that think my blog is a free space on the internet for you to semi-anonymously spew negativity, I have a few things to say.
I thought I’d start by telling you a little bit about me. You know…the person who pays for this online space where you feel so free to bare your shiny hiney. That’s right. I pay for web hosting and to keep this domain up on the internet. This little space on the internet is analogous to my online house. Would you come to my real house, walk in, accept a cup of coffee, a glass of wine, or maybe some cookies and proceed to tell me everything you think it wrong with my views, my life, or my decisions? I’m going to go with no.
I started this blog in 2014 while I was deep in the throes of un-diagnosed post-adoption depression, which, by the way, is really a thing. My husband and I adopted two young boys from China in 11 months. Separate adoptions, no biological relationships between our kids. Our first adoption in 2012 was idyllic. Our second in 2013 was a shit storm. Our son had medical needs we weren’t told about and the medical needs we were told about were far more complex than we’d realized. Pair that with family problems, visa problems, payroll problems, and every other kind of “OMG what could happen to this family next” problems that anyone could…well, it was a perfect implosion of all the things going wrong.
I coped by pretending nothing was wrong during the day, crying in the bathroom when everyone was asleep at night, and getting up at 5 a.m. and writing my thoughts (which I decided were mostly word vomit) out in the mornings before I left for work. Without really understanding anything tech, I bought a website, reserved social media, and started putting my thoughts out there. I didn’t expect anyone to read it, beyond my mom and a few online friends I’d made through a few online adoption forums I’d joined when we were waiting for our adoptions to happen. I thought I’d get some satisfaction and closure by writing things down and sharing them with my small circle.
But surprisingly, the circle got bigger. People started to read my blog. I made connections with other adoptive families from around the world. It was a comforting source of connection. It was validating. It was a source of comfort when I was struggling. I was a little overwhelmed by the response and it encouraged me to keep writing and also to keep healing.
I reached a point where I didn’t cry in the bathroom all the time. The fog of depression lifted and I started feeling normal again.
This blog has evolved. There are raw stories about adoption and depression and feeling hopeless and hopeful. As I started to gain some “regular life” traction, my writing changed. I wrote less “this is the open sore that is my life right now” blog posts and more “my kids can’t pee in the potty but I still love them” and “hey this mac and cheese recipe saves my dinner time” posts. We have always been a family of nomads and I eventually shifted this blog to tell the stories of our travels with our kids. I’m a big “experience over stuff” person and I love showing my kids the world and sharing it with all of you.
Yes, even you.
My blog gets about 10 hateful comments per week. Most of them are from people I’m going to label as trolls, and although my adoption posts are not very frequent anymore, all of these comments are on my adoption posts, even my older ones. There are the “why couldn’t you adopt from your own country” comments and the accompanying “There are so many kids in foster care you could help.” There are the bitter adult adoptees who have some kind of ax to grind with adoption happy endings, who seem to think that every thing I write about adoption needs to remind people that adoption is about loss and that I’m not doing enough to remind my kids on a daily basis that I stole their culture. People who have (I’m assuming) never met me, don’t know my family, who seem to think that since its “the internet” that they get to weigh in about my family, our adoptions, and our motives.
I don’t respond to comments from trolls. If I did, I’d spend at least an hour a day addressing hateful, bitter people who don’t know me that want to make comments about my personal life. In the past, I’ve either deleted the comments, reported them to Google as spam, or edited them before publishing them on my blog. That’s right. If you’ve ever left a toxic comment on my blog and it accidentally shows up as “Jill, you’re pretty” well then, now you know the magic that happens behind the scenes. That’s right, Cruella. I can edit those puppies (SEE WHAT I DID THERE.)
But to the trolls and the haters, I’ll say this just once:
I’m a real person. This crappy, hateful, comment you’re leaving on my blog post is being read by a real person, probably while she’s trying to make dinner or figure out how she’s going to juggle all the other things. Your little snippet of negativity probably came to me at a time where I least needed to feel crappy about my life.
Your opinion doesn’t matter to me. It took a long time for me to be able to say that and mean it.
If you have a negative impression of our adoptions, China adoption, international adoptions, or adoptions in general, that’s F.I.N.E. If you want to think I have a “save the children” mentality, you’re allowed to think that, although it shows you’ve spent very little time here. I don’t get to decide what you think or feel your feelings. I don’t have time to try and change your opinion or justify my life choices every time you decide to show up and leave a nasty comment on my blog.
Barbara S., Ashley G. Susan G. Mary B., Ben Affleck (although I know it’s not the REAL Ben Affleck) and the first-grade teacher in Missouri who used her .edu email account to tell me what was wrong with my life: I read all of your comments this week. I read your scathing interpretations of my life, my character, and my motive to adopt my children. I read your hopes that I might “someday get a clue” and “focus on what really matters to my children.” And yes, the teacher in Missouri is real and I consider it a big act of grace that I didn’t forward it to the school on whose domain she decided to type her comment that contained multiple F-bombs, and sadly, typos.
I’m not here for you.
I’m here for other parents, namely adoptive parents in the trenches. And, a little bit for me because writing is therapeutic like that. I’m not suggesting adult adoptees don’t experience pain or that their issues aren’t important or that I don’t care about them. I am only one person and I am not trying to solve everyone’s problems or be everything to everyone. To write about issues adoptive parents experience is not discounting, diminishing, or dissing anything an adult adoptee might be feeling at any point in time.
But this is my story. Not yours. Not your free space on the internet to say whatever you want. It’s my space, and while I’m good with comments that challenge me or offer a different perspective, there’s a difference between that and trolling. And while I get that an adult adoptee with some feelings of angst might not deserve the label of troll, I’m going to give myself permission not to post their comments if they’re inflammatory or angry. This isn’t your place. If you need a place to express your unhappiness, I hope you find it. Just not here.
This place is for adoptive parents who are struggling as I once was in the hope that they’ll someday not struggle. I am not in the “save the child” camp and I don’t believe my adopted kids are “so lucky.” I accept there are other adoptive families out there who do believe this and had this motivation to adopt. I don’t agree with that line of thinking but I don’t bash someone who wants to feel like they’re “rescuing the orphans,” although some of those adoption tee-shirts make me uncomfortable, too.
I’m okay with being plan B and I think I’m the lucky one. I am thrilled to be my kids’ parents…most of the time. I am a semi normal mom running on coffee and trying to remember where her car keys are.
Adoption is fairly secondary right now. It is not the focal point of our universe and although we have some things that set us apart from other families, we mostly blend in any live our lives. Exciting stuff like Costco and soccer practice.
So to the trolls and the haters that want to add some negativity to what is a mostly happy place on the internet? This is not the underside of your bridge.