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Are you getting used?: A Letter to the Members of The Resource Committee of Adopted Adults

Dear members of the Resource Committee of Adopted Adults (RCAA):

Before I begin, please know that this unsolicited letter from me to you comes out of respect.  You’ve taken on a heady task, and your willingness to engage the Minnesota adult adoptee community with Children’s Home Society & Family Services (CHSFS) should be applauded.  I sincerely hope for your success.

My message to you is straight forward.  As you continue to ramp up your activities, please ask yourselves: “Are we really advancing the needs of the adult adoptee community or are we merely being used?”  If history is an indicator, the answer may lean toward the latter.

CHSFS isn’t big on offering due credit to adult adoptees.  For example, until recently, CHSFS rarely mentioned the role that a small group of adult adoptee women played in the M&M Program, arguably the agency’s most successful post adoption offering.  CHSFS did not create it.  The M&M Program was given to them by the previously mentioned women, whose names I’m sure are not well known at CHSFS.

Additionally, more closer to home for you, did you know that the RCAA was established by an adoptee?  I admire Judy Russell, the former staff member quoted on your website.  Her work with volunteers was outstanding, and I genuinely admire her.  Indeed, she had a hand in establishing the RCAA.  However, 90% of the work was done by an adoptee — me.  I drafted the initial idea, received the go ahead to recruit the first round of RCAA members, and worked closely with your predecessors before moving to DC with my wife.

Honestly, I could care less about the snub.  However, I question CHSFS’s habit of not giving credit to members of our community; do you think that your accomplishments will be remembered as they ought to be?

CHSFS is only interested in a small portion of the RCAA visionYour RCAA vision states: “To affirm and advocate for adult adopted persons and their families, and to create ongoing dialogue among Children’s Home Society & Family Services and the adopted adult community.  We stand for openness, diversity, equality, community support, communication and resources for adoptive parents.”

Let’s be frank here.  When is the last time that CHSFS reached out to organizations like AK Connection, AdopSource, and TRACK, which has strong Minnesota ties, to “create ongoing dialogue”?  Rather than reaching out, CHSFS has a practice of marginalizing adoptees involved in some of these groups and misconstruing the groups’ missions for having the audacity to question the “adoption narrative” promoted by adoption agencies.  “Openness”?  Not so much.  Ask your staff liaison about CHSFS’s history with the open records issue.  “Communication”?  Questionable.  When not marginalizing and misconstruing, CHSFS’s policy is to ignore conversations advanced by adoptees who question the policies and practices of adoption agencies.  “[R]esources for adoptive parents?”  CHSFS absolutely is for “resources for adoptive parents,” isn’t it?

Dear members of the RCAA, to reiterate, I’m reaching out to you because I respect what you’re attempting to do with CHSFS, and wish you great success.  Please take my words with a grain of salt.  They’re only my opinions, and many folks don’t share them.  However, there are many who do.  I would encourage you to seek both sides out.  The opinions of other adoptees will certainly help you in your endeavors and aid you in achieving your mission and vision.

With warm regards,

Kevin Ost-Vollmers

1 Comment on Are you getting used?: A Letter to the Members of The Resource Committee of Adopted Adults

  1. Hmmm… interesting. I’d like to hear from current members of the RCAA. Do you feel like you are being “used?” As a prior member of the RCAA, I guess I never felt “used” in the negative sense of the word. I was “used,” as a resource who was called upon to provide leadership and expertise on panels, committess, etc. I certainly welcomed the invitation to be part of the inception of the RCAA and saw it as a very positive experience as it was for me like taking an express train [noise and all! :)] on my adoption journey. It was through the RCAA that I met my wife and for that I’m truly thankful 🙂

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