A Point of Clarification on my Grenade Throwing

Yesterday, I wrote a post on my in-laws incredibly supportive response to our decision to adopt. This response was unexpected as they have a history of being less than supportive of our decisions – in fact, at times they have downright hurtful and mean. But, I cannot stress enough how thrilled we are that they chose to be supportive and excited to become grandparents regardless of how the child is coming into our lives.

But, there was one comment in my post that a few people took note of. So, today, I want to explain myself. Please, don’t feel compelled to agree with me – I love to learn from all of you and I always love a great debate based in respect. Further more, please realize that I do not speak for all people considering adoption, rather I am only sharing my perspective which is not always right.

Anyways, I thought I would take a moment to better explain one specific comment I made yesterday.  To quote my original post:

We let one inappropriate adoption comments slide, for now. The child will be so lucky to have you as parents. We let it slide because they could say that about a biological child as well and there terminology did not specify adoption. Also, we needed to focus on being positive. It was simply not the time to jump down their throats and comment about how an adoptive child should be no more grateful for their parents then a non-adopted child, and we never want our child to feel that they owe us some debt of gratitude – while yes, our adoption will likely help provide a child with a stable home, we are not doing this for the betterment of the world. Rather we are adopting because we desperately want to have a family, and we know we can do it. If it comes up again, we will correct it.

I thought I’d explain where we were coming from with feeling that this comment was inappropriate.

First, the comment came from people who have a proven track record of underhanded insults that have hurt us deeply for years. After over 14 years of being judged negatively for our decisions, we have become hypersensitive to their comments. At times this is a good thing and it helps protect us from opening ourselves up to too much hurt. And, at other times it means we do not give them a fair chance. Quite possibly, in this circumstance it was the latter of the options but we honestly don’t know.

Second, since we have announced our decision to adopt, we have been referred to as saviours, heroes, amazing for saving unwanted children, etc. These words and phrases trouble us deeply. While we are decent people, we feel very strongly that we are not heroes, nor are we saviours, nor is our child unwanted. I know people say these things to be nice and supportive, but it makes us feel incredibly awkward and uncomfortable. This is our issue, I realize that. But, we are worried that if people use these words, they cause our child to feel a debt of gratitude. According to multiple resources including some provided to us from our agency, adopted children are often forced to feel that they should be grateful for being “saved.” These feelings can cause many psychological issues for children as they grow-up. Furthermore, we feel really strongly that we really do not want our child to feel this way. We are adamant that our child should not be any more grateful for their loving parents, then any other, child should be. We are likely being over protective parents, but we just really don’t want comments like these to influence our child into feeling a debt of gratitude to us.

And lastly, maybe in a bit of self-defense, I need to point out that we did not jump on the comment and try to correct them, because as I said “there terminology did not specify adoption.” We both realized that our initial reaction to this comment may be a direct result of our hypersensitivity. We realize we have to walk a careful line to not become just crazy people.

Honestly, more than anything, right now we are so thrilled everything went so well, and they are being so supportive of our growing family!

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25 Comments on “A Point of Clarification on my Grenade Throwing

  1. I 100% agree with you. Even without your parents track record, comments like that, even if meant in a good light, can cause harm to adopted children, as they typically are not the types of things said to parents of biological children. It sucks, but when adopting, language and phrases used in reference to the adoption are one of those things I think the parents become hypervigilant about, and to those outside of adoption, they alot of the time do not understand that. It all boils down to not wanting you child to feel a debt of gratitude towards you.

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  2. I couldn’t agree with you anymore. I totally understand where you are coming from. More importantly how you feel about anything surrounding your adoption process is entirely personal and never wrong or right- it is simply your truth. I think debate can be helpful on issues social and philosophical but not when they involve someone’s personal feelings during this IF/ RPL/ adoption journey. Feelings are not debatable- they just are. This is a safe place to share them and be supported. Anyway- just my two cents. Xoxo

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    • Thank you for reminding me that this is simply “our truth” as it is our adoption experience which is unique to anyone else. So, of course we will process things differently then others, which means our reactions may be different and that’s okay so long as we are true to ourselves and our future child(ren).

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  3. We are foster parents, and something that Callie and I discuss all the time is when people say things like, “They are so lucky to have you”, or “You guys are so amazing for taking in these kids”. It annoys us to our core. We feel that (grated, adoption is different from fostering) these poors kids were basically ripped out of their homes and sent to live with strangers. They aren’t lucky to have us! Their whole lives were torn apart and the carpet ripped out from under them. We aren’t “amazing” for taking in these kids. We just do the best we can, and hope (like any other parent), that we don’t screw them up more than this experience is already going to scar them. Again, fostering and adopting are similar but different, but ultimately, we do what our hearts feel is right. I’m excited for you guys and totally understand where you are coming from. And with other people, they are just saying what they think is right and feel is right. A little gentle correction when needed is totally acceptable.

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    • Thank you so much sharing and letting me know that we are not alone in our annoyance with these types of comments! I love just love your perspective from your fostering experience about gentle correction. 🙂

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  4. When I read your post yesterday, that statement made me pause and wonder as well. I didn’t comment on it though because I know there are issues already, I know you probably didn’t give every single aspect of what went on, and we are all entitled to our own opinions and feelings. I do, however, know that you’re a good person and have common sense and good judgement. I understand your not wanting your child to feel like they owe you something (though really, I guess ALL children owe their parents a lot lol!) Hopefully most people will be able to understand that!

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    • Thank you so much Amy for your kind words.
      You are right, there was a lot more going on behind the scenes on this comment, which I why after thinking about it deserved a post all of its own. We are really cautious that we do not want our child to feel any differently towards us then a biological child would, and through gentle corrections we can help other people understand our concern with statements like this one.

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  5. Every time someone uses the term grateful about an adopted child – respond with a comment about how everyone should be appreciative – model a different term and hopefully others will follow.

    Grateful works into your soul as a feeling of indebtedness
    Appreciative works into your soul as a feeling thankfulness

    Completely different feelings are associated with the two terms – as to being lucky – that term feeds into so many different ways to make the adoptee shut down, not be allowed, or feel like they have any right to have differing feelings…that is the term that causes so much angst…that also feeds into the feelings of indebtedness…and guilt for any feelings that disagree….and it isn’t just as a child that you hear that said – it’s a lifelong thing for the adoptee to hear…imagine 50 years of being told that…

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    • Thank you so much for this comment! I particularly like your use of the word appreciative.
      You summed up exactly what our concern is, and why we are being so hypersensitive to this type of language. The damage that can be done to the child using this type of language is easy to prevent, so we want to help our friends and family understand what is appropriate to say instead.

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  6. As you know, my fiance is adopted, and i understand to never make a comment like that; actually i wouldn’t anyway because i dont think that! I think her parents wanted a child and J deserved a family and they found each other. I also hate i when people use the term “adopted parents” or “adoptes daughter” – J isnt their adopted daughter; shes just their dauhter.

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    • I completely agree about the term “adopted parents” or “adopted child.” As you have probably noticed, I refer to our child as our future child or just our child, I have no intention of ever referring to them as our “adopted” child. By adding the word adopted it somehow implies they are less then other children.
      That said, have no idea how to explain what we are right now – waiting adoptive parents, waiting parents, potential adoptive parents, one-day parents, etc. It’s not as simple as “I’m pregnant and expecting” because we are expecting just on a completely different timeline. Any ideas?

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  7. I confess that I may have said something similar to you or to NonBellyMama at some point or another. And I apologise if it ever came off as anything other than being supportive of your choices. I think that feitcanwrite also makes a good point about what people might really mean when they say it. I think that all parties are benefitting from the situation. I do agree as well that the language that we use needs to be evaluated for our own biases, especially when it can impact a child’s sense of care and love.

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  8. People often say to me that my son is so lucky to have me as a mum and I’m a good mum etc (you may have even seen comments from friends and family on my blog) and it’s never bothered me because I know I’m so fortunate to have him too – and sometimes I need to hear it!! I don’t see adoption parents as heroes or saviours of children but I do think it’s special to welcome a child who is not biologically yours into your home as a lot of people say they couldn’t do this. In saying that I also think the same of step parents and families etc. All in all, parenthood is amazing no matter how it came to you. Your child is your child and they won’t feel gratitude until they develop that emotion later on but by then you’ll hopefully have your bond and relationship with them. I like to think simply (or is it naively?) that you are a child’s loving parents, their safe place and that’s all they’ll ultimately care about. If you don’t have an air of “you owe me one” then they won’t either.

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    • Thanks for sharing Katie. I completely agree, that if we don’t have an air of “you owe me one” then they likely wont either. I know we will raise our child(ren) with the objective that they do not feel that they owe us anything, and we hope by gently correcting negative language we will help prevent others from promoting that type of feeling.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. I totally get where you are coming from on this. We get told on the daily that we are saints for doing what we’re doing, but honestly, we just want a family. I feel selfish really. Not saintly.

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  10. Good clarification! A few adopt blogs I follow suggest responding to random comments like this with, “WE are lucky to be their parents!” I feel like a passive re-direct will do the trick for most. But your post got me thinking that friends and family probably need more than that just so they’re aware.

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