Wednesday, August 29, 2007
I jest you not! Last month North Bellmore, New York (Long Island) adoptive parents dashed off to NCFA to complain about the ArtsPower National Touring Company production of Anne of Green Gables performed in their school district. Sensitive adopters who can’t tell the difference between songs and playground fisticuffs, complained that the 55-minute musical was “mean” towards adoptees.
Apparently these pampered cultural illiteratti are unfamiliar with mythology, religion, literature, folklore, film, and dramatic structure. Oedipus, Cinderella, Snow White, Eppie Cass, Dick Whittington, Pippi Longstocking, Little Orphan Annie, Harry Potter, James Henry Trotter, Adam Farmer, Jesus, Huck Finn, Pollyanna, Baby Bumble, the Little Rascals and Shirley Temple must be as unknown to them as an obc bill hearing in Albany.
Anne of Green Gables has a long literary and film history. The 1908 Canadian novel, by Lucy Maud Montgomery, tells the story of English orphan Anne Shirley sent to a family on Prince Edward Island by “mistake” (they’d ordered a boy to work on the farm), and her triumph over adversity. Originally, an “adult novel” it became a children’s favorite reaching “classic” status early on. Over the next 12 years 7 sequels followed Anne’s adventures, and she appeared as a minor character in other novels.
Anne of Green Gables has been translated into 17 languages. Over the last 78 years, at least 10 films, including a Japanese animie, have been made based on the novels. The first, released in 1919, was directed by William Desmond Taylor and starred teen hottie Mary Miles Minter. Minter’s mother later murdered Taylor—at least according to King Vidor who spent years trying to solve one of Hollywood’s most enduring murder mysteries. (But that’s a story for another day). The best known Anne film, starring Anne Shirley (who took the name of our heroine for her professional name), was made in 1934. When I was 10 or 12, I watched the film on Cleveland TV and it did not offend or scare me. Alas! That was in the day when common sense was common-- before adoption had become a stairway to heaven and adoptees refugees from the dumpster. A few years ago I watched an engaging sequel, Anne of Avonlea . I did not take an ax to my TV or run to the therapist’s couch.
Anne of Green Gables—The Musical, Canada’s longest running mainstage production (not to be confused with the Bellmore production) has run since 1964 and been seen by over 2 million people, including Queen Elizabeth. Avonlea, where the Anne novels take place, is a major Prince Edward Island tourist attraction.
The offending theatre company, ArtsPower Family Theatre, founded in 1985, is a major American children’s company. It has not gotten where it is today by offending children or their hypervigilant parents. Touring in 45 states, with an annual audience of about 750,000, its venues include the Kennedy Center, Lincoln Center, the Annenberg Center for the Arts, and Paper Mill Playhouse. It receives support from the New Jersey Council for the Arts, the Rodgers and Hammerstein Foundation, Actors Equity Foundation, and the Blanche and Irving Laurie Foundation. Its production of Anne of Green Gables has played around the country, and as far as I can tell, to no one’s horror except North Bellmore adopta-do-gooders.
THE SENSITIVE ADOPTER
You’d think Anne’s century-old story of orphan empowerment would inspire contemporary adoptees and orphans, who let’s face it, are posted and pillored every day by an adoption industry that considers us dangerous, defective, and delinquent. But then you’d be thinking rationally, not with entitlement-addled mommie brain.
Kathleen Reed, adopter of 2 Chinese girls, talking as if adoption were some brand new family-building scheme she’d personally invented, bloviated to Newsday, “Nowadays families come in all shapes and sizes, and we need to be sensitive.” (For a seriously heated discussion on Reed and her pet hissy go here). Another pod woman, Jennifer Henning, whose 11 year old son is not adopted, fretted over how he would “perceive" adopted children under the pernicious influence of Anne of Green Gables enabled by a negligent school system. After North Bellmore School principal Mark Weiner blew off the whiners, they went to the Bellmore school superintendent who gave them a better reception, promising no more “hiccups” in the future play-choosing process. Given an inch, the gripers took a mile, and called in NCFA.
Now, I almost feel sorry for NCFA. I am sure that Tom Atwood & Co. have better things to do—like finding new and friendly ways to increase the low-yield domestic baybee crop—than spend their time wiping away the tears of Sensitive Adopters and their fellow travelers. But NCFA, grabbed the bait. Confronted with such offensive lines as:
I mean, look at her! She's terribly plain and small and homely. Eyes too close together - can't trust that. Sure sign of the criminal element, you know. ... And of course, let us not forget - she is "an orphan."
"Marilla, you can't trust an orphan!" ... Why, they'd lie and steal from ya just as sure as lookin' at ya!
Newsday reported that Atwood, who must have had the flu the day his class read Oliver Twist, opined "It is poor judgment to subject young adopted children, over their parent's objections, to a play that acts out the tormenting of an orphan, even if the play ... has a happy ending."
By that standard, then it must be poor judgment, to torment adopted adults who just want to own the lousy piece of paper that records their birth….even if that acquisition has a happy ending.
Now pass the potatoes, Tom!
*available only in Newsday's paid archives. Quotes from the article can be found in the linked discussion on Elizabeth Reed.
Monday, August 27, 2007
I'm very far behind in blogging. As usual, I've got some half-baked blogs in the oven (which is better than half-baked buns except if you're desperate and baybeeless).
Thursday, August 23, 2007
Bastard Nation is no longer an official sponsor of RegDay, but that doesn't mean we don't support it. Bastardette worked 3 RegDays and was Ohio coordinator one year. Over that 3- year period our Ohio crews met literally hundreds if not thousands, of people separated by pernicious shut-up-and-be-grateful adoption secrecy laws that claim absurdly that adoptees have no right to know their personal histories.
If you'd like to work a RegDay in your area please go to RegDay and see how you can help adoptees and their families in your area.
Also, check this out message from the RegDay folks:
RegDay is held each year to promote the International
Soundex Reunion Registry - the largest registry for finding people in the
world. This is an example of how to set up a RegDay table should you consider doing one.
Margaret Lyburtus did this one alone with materials from the site and things she had collected over the 15 years in which she searched for her daughter.
To watch this photo show now, simply paste the following URL into your web browser:
Wednesday, August 22, 2007
Yet, Bastardette confesses to an exception to misanthropy. Community "outreach" for Bastard Nation and adoptees. She seldom misses the chance to table an event or blather to a captive audience. Thus, she jumped at the chance for Bastard Nation to co-sponsor, with Chris Anarchist and Yippie! the 2nd Annual Iuka Park Folks Arts Festival & Family Picnic in Columbus, Ohio last Sunday. Low key, unplugged, and easy. Especially when somebody else is cooking.
Iuka Park is located in the middle of the University area, on Iuka Ravine. It's quiet, easy to find, and family friendly. As long as you're not electrifying your equipment or consuming illegal substances the cops leave you alone--even with a Bastard Nation flag flying. A couple canopies, a couple tables and a homemade stage (which we didn't use) was all we needed. A storm threatened early in the day but didn't pour all over us until around 7 PM. About 100 neighbors dropped by during the 7 hours of free food, free music, and free fun.
Entertainment was provided by Columbus activist (and cook extraordinaire) Connie Harris, bluegrass band Katy Whomp Us, father and daughter duo the Michaels, Miles Curtiss aka Mark the Robot, the bardic goddess Victoria Parks, and Unititty. The Afro-Brazilian Columbus T.A.B.C.A.T. (easier to watch than explain) closed out the day--unfortunately caught in the rainstorm and forced to move under a canopy; thus limiting their performance perimeters. (pictures in order below), We had a little bit of Bastardy, a little bit of Bush, a little bit of Diebold. Hey, it's Ohio!
A few years ago I wrote Tips for Tabling. I've sophisticated the method up a bit, but you can get the idea. You never know when you'll talk to somebody and really make a difference. Some of the staunchest Bastards (and bastards) I've known I've picked up at local events. If you wanna change the world, start with your neighborhood. BN plans to co-sponsor next year's picnic.
Monday, August 13, 2007
Bastardette will once again appear on Donna Montalbano's Adoption Show out of Fall River, Mass this coming Tuesday (August 14.) We'll be having an open-ended discussion about Bastard Nation and why records access is a civil right. If things get dull, we can talk about Bastardette's favorite musical: The Fall River Follies or Oh Mrs. Churchill, Do Come Over: Someone has Killed Father.
Unfortunately, the show isn't streamed, so you're got to catch it live. Donna is a great friend of Bastards and their families. If you're in the Fall River area, turn, on, tune in, call us.
Sunday, August 12, 2007
Friday, August 10, 2007
A wonderful memorial to Gavi appears in today's Lizard Chronicles.
Gavi's memory has also been kept at Gavriela Maxime Ze'eva Person Memorial Page maintained by Denise Castalucci.
Another memorial is Charles Filius's Gavi Remembered,with messages to her from Bastard Nationals
the world's ways for all of us.
Know we were loved by at least one silent heart.
Be strong and love each other, and the world will surely change.
A gaggle of Bastard Nation Founding Foundlings, San Diego, 1996: (counterclockwise): Michelle Hilbe, Deni Castalucci, Damsel Plum, Gavi Person, Deb Schwartz. (photo by Shea Grimm)
Please sign the comments and circulate the link widely. We need a lot of signatures, so that
CARA really considers our comments.
Basically CARA acknowledges that many of us Adoptees do want to search for Roots and specifically open the records. But sadly they explicitly close the records in case of children born to unwed mothers. Practically that means many of us- if not most- are effectively stonewalled from any search and prevented from knowing our original identity.
However since there is a chance of our voices being considered, before that comes into effect,
let´s all try our best to achieve positive change.
Since the comments have become a bit long, here the three main points summarised.
a) Birthrecords: that Adoptees, do also get an original Birth Certificate, with the names of their biological parents
b) Right to access to our files and records, even in case of children born to unwed mothers
c) Support and Setting up of independent Post Adoption Services
Thanks for your support!
Wednesday, August 08, 2007
But even adoptees set limits on acceptable behavior. Recently, dredging up the old nature or nurture argument, former National Review editor Joe Sobran. suggested the unsuggestable: George W. Bush should have been put up for adoption at birth.
Saturday’s Lew Rockwell.com published Sobran's July 9 Liberty Watch column, Lessons of History (also found on his webpage, The Reactionary Utopian.) Sobran wrote:
What must the old man [George Herbert Walker Bush] feel as he sees his family name become accursed of all nations? Being a parent can be tough. Kids can give you unpleasant surprises. Usually, though, these can be coped with. If your son gets drunk and totals your new stretch limousine, well, you’re not happy, but it’s not going into the history books. But if, say, he starts a world war, you may find yourself wishing you’d put him up for adoption when you still had the chance.
Old George and Bar may be kicking themselves right now. I hope their golden years aren’t being spoiled by recriminations: “You’re the one who wanted to keep him!” “That’s a low blow! I never said that!”
IF IT SAVES JUST ONE…
Sobran’s scary scenario brings up points to ponder in this day of designer baybees and identity manipulation. Should newborns, feared of performing future high crimes and misdemeanors (or worse), be abandoned to the adoption mill so years later somebody else can be blamed for their bad behavior? Can family reputations be saved by adoption? Should parents, embarrassed by the idea of giving away their own flesh and blood, tough it out, hoping that love will overcome their offspring’s possible criminal nature? Is post utero reformation and redemption at the hands of better equipped and more mature parents possible? And finally, does it really matter? Is a Bush a Bush a Bush?
The Bush family’s proximity to Gladney (and here), of course, would have made the “surrender” safe and secret.* Nobody would have to know the Bushes had this baby. (Unless, of course, uppity Texas adoptees got their records opened and the ever incurious George got curious.) The baby would never know where he came from. He could have made his way in life as a minor league pitcher or bagman for Franklin Graham. Maybe.
But the Old Bushes, being selfish parents, refused to be separated from their own flesh and blood. They opted to keep him, and look what it got us (selected list): The Patriot Act, FISA, Gitmo, the Iraq War, Homeland Security, Dick Cheney, Alberto Gonzales, Judith Miller, Scooter Libby, Douglas Feith, Abu Ghraib, decrepit Trots in high places, Karl Rove, a shredded Constitution, and the death of history.
Would any adoptee have wrought this much havoc on the world? I doubt it. And if he were adopted, would any of us--Goobah Goobah ONE OF US-- claim him as our own?
If you are profoundly disturbed by Sobran's suggestion that George W. Bush should have darkened AdoptionLand, tell him. You can contact him here.
*OK, Bastardette admits to being a bit fanciful here. Little George was born in New Haven, making New York City's poshy Spence-Chapin an easier transfer point than Gladney.