In March of 2014 I began working part-time as a social media strategist for the Peabody Awards. In December of 2014 I began working full time, and by 2016 I was promoted to help oversee awards administration in addition to social media, web editing, and email marketing. As digital media strategist I facilitated in both submissions process for the awards and providing the submitted media for the jurors during adjudication.
I also learned basic video editing and production during these first few years, going on to do the bulk of the editing for the full ceremony videos we produced, as well as a number of other video interviews and editing down clips for social media use. I also prepared in-building video promos for Grady College’s administration floor, spotlighting the Peabody Awards program for potential students and past alumni. I also supported student video editors, requisitioning and preparing video materials for interviews, sizzle reels, and issue spotlights.
My tenure at the Peabody Awards comes to an end during the fall semester of 2020, due to the cancellation of the ceremony and projected downturn in submissions for the 2020-21 judging cycle. Peabody Awards is a non-profit which has no endowment, and relies on table sales and sponsorships at the annual ceremony as well as donations from alumni and submission fees from entries for its operating budget. With the cancellation of the ceremony, the organization’s new fiscal budget is severely curtailed, and my position, along with two of my co-worker’s positions have been eliminated. In preparation for this, I am detailing my workflows, reducing my data footprint in the servers to essential documents for future awards cycles, and have helped oversee the ingestion of thousands of names and email addresses from submitters into the mailing list for Peabody Awards newsletters.
In 2017 I found myself submitting my DNA to additional DNA services online, following up on having first done so about a decade earlier when I’d located my biological mother’s family. In 2018, using the new data, and finding ways to cross-reference my paternal DNA relatives from my maternal DNA relatives, I was able to find, then contact, my biological father. I’d started the process of searching for my biological family in earnest in 1995 after years of indecision and anxiety about being an adoptee. 23 years later, I had the answers I’d wanted, and in 2019 I met my biological father, his wife, and his children and grandchildren for the first time.
Needless to say, this experience has left me with a great deal of things to relay. I am not sure exactly what form this expression will ultimately take, but for now I’m working on a book that summarizes my views on the adoption industry in general, and the experience of being an adoptee-specifically my own experiences, as situated against the larger cultural moment.
This website is a staging ground for writing I’m considering including in this book, as well as other materials I feel compelled to share. You can access the posts here.
The question at the heart of my writing currently is this: how is it that adoption, an institution obviously born out of a desire of charity and empathy for the less fortunate, should have grown into an abusive, corrupt industry?
Is there something central to adoption practices within the US that fuel the harm done to the average adoptee’s psyche?
How long must individual cases stand on their own anecdotally before the collective weight of obvious harm adds up to a call for action?
Is nature versus nurture a dead question yet? In my experience, the very cognitive processes that the conservative christian performs are radically unlike the careful, considerate assessment of a rational individual. It is possible my sample size is too small for a scientific assessment, but my pool includes all of the uncles and their wives whom I’ve been around, as well as the media that remains central to their lives and the cultural spaces in which they reside:
Adoption as a response to abortion; those adoptees who live as testimonials to their parents supposedly selfless and godly decisions to not abort, and what it is to carry the thought of being a result – rather than a child.
Coming up through that, and learning that arguing within that space led only to blank looks and devout dismissals; constant confrontation with the irreality of their worldview would lead to shouting matches, tinged with the possibility of violence. The story I was given as a child was that the lawyer’s secretary was wheeled out of the hospital with me in her arms the day I was born before being driven to my new parents.
The only tidbit I had was that my real mom’s name might have been Nancy, a detail let slip by that same secretary.
But much later on I would learn that my real mom never wanted to give me up-that she was, in fact pl,anning to keep me. The notion that I was stolen, that forces in my mother’s life worked against her to adopt me out, through a network of local pastors, to insure that I was adopted by a member of the right religion… it drove me crazy for years trying to get my head around this central tenet of my own narrative of self. What I learned after finding her years later was that she had been pressured into giving me up for adoption by her father, her pastor, and the medical professionals that surrounded her. She signed me away in the immediate moments after my birth, the nurse refusing to turn down her anesthetics until after she signed the document.
So I find myself thinking about the film “Zero Effect” (1998) where the central protagonist is a woman whose very existence is the blackmail she uses against her father, who had hired the hit man/murderer of her mother, a hit man who then raised adopted her/raised her to be an extortionist. I may have been stolen from my mother, if not criminally, at least through intimidation and social pressure. And my adoptive parents accepted this, if not consciously, through their unwillingness to interrogate the circumstances of acquiring me, the very same day I was born, less than five hours after I’d been brought into this world.