Posted by: 지인 | 25 February 2008

On being paid what we’re worth

I received another request recently to reprint an old blog entry. It was one I had written about making real cultural connections to transracially & transnationally adopted kids’ heritage, which is certainly an important topic of discussion for adoption professionals and adoptive parents to spend time on before and during the adoption process, and throughout the postadoption years, to be sure.

I waffled around over the weekend, hemming and hawing about what to do, as I have done every time these requests have arisen. I respect that these organizations, newsletters, websites and publications find the topics I address significant enough to want to reprint posts that I’ve written. Being a founding director and officer of a charitable nonprofit myself, I understand and completely, completely respect the financial constraints that many of these folks are dealing with, and I know what it’s like to rely on the kindness and generosity of contributors.

That said, I’ve been trying to coach myself for months now on not underselling myself. I’ve told many, many friends of mine who have been in similar positions, “Don’t sell yourself short. You are worth more than a free copy of a 6-page newsletter.” Even if it’s a nominal, nominal reprint fee that we ask of small nonprofits, we should at least expect that our efforts be acknowledged as something more than free for the taking.

Many of us have already given much, much more for free than what any credentialed adoption professional would give — and not just when we’re asked to speak on panels or contribute our writing for magazines and newsletters. If we hadn’t already stripped our “adoptee experiences” down and presented some of our most poignant and painful experiences of our lives publicly on our blogs, none of these sources would have come calling in the first place.

So why can’t I take my own advice?

Thank you, TRA compatriot, Jae Ran, for saying exactly what I needed to hear today.

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Responses

  1. You are so welcome. After a friend of mine emailed me today, asking whether it was worth it to do ANOTHER panel for ANOTHER very worthwhile organization (but an adoptive parent one, and for free) I was just fed up. For her, for me, for you and the countless others of us who have basically given of ourselves for years. And the expectation (and threat) we sometimes get is, “there are plenty of others who will do it for free.”

    Grreaaat. Fresh new victims.

    Sigh.

  2. Hear, hear. Don’t sell yourself short! Not to sound too cynical or anything but in this capitalistic world, by not offering even a nominal fee for your views, your experiences, and much needed help, it almost says that they do not put much value on what you have to offer…
    (Did that come out too harsh/cynical?)

  3. No, MN, that is exactly how I feel too.

  4. I can’t help but feel that way, too. I think people just expect adoptees to be open books, willing to *ahem* (quote/unquote) “give back” *cough* to the “adoption community” on command. It’s like what Jae Ran mentioned about being expected to be “adoption poster children.”

    And there’s something really f-ed up about that. I’m finally getting comfortable with insisting that if what I have to say is really valuable to Publication X or Organization Y, then I deserve what any author deserves for reprints, and we adult adoptee writers & activists deserve what any adoption professional receives. I think what I asked of this particular source is more than fair, considering the circumstances — even erring on the low side.

    Now if you’ll excuse me, I must retch into my sleeve after writing the part about being expected to “give back.” *heave*

  5. Ditto on what everyone else has said. It seems some APs and orgs think they can treat us as babysitters, albeit ones they don’t have to pay.

  6. I guess I didn’t realize that EVERYTHING you do has been pro bono. Screw that. You deserve something. I sound like a broken record, but again, I wouldn’t expect any less of an attitude from these people.

  7. Oh I’ve asked to be paid before, but have been told that (a) they can’t afford to pay contributors and that they had other adoptees who had already indicated that they would contribute for free, or (b) they were sorry but the most they could offer me would be a free copy and a byline, blah blah blah.

    I think we should unionize and threaten to strike.


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