What’s on my mind today?
Adoption. And adopted kids.
And statements that make adoptive parents cringe, no matter how well meaning they are.
Please, don’t tell me – especially in front of my kids – how wonderful we are for adopting, or how you think we rescued our kids. And please – please – don’t ever tell them that. Don’t tell them they are lucky to have us, or that you don’t know what they would have done without us. Don’t tell me – or them – how blessed they are that we adopted them, or that they got to become part of our family.
Are we thankful that God saw fit to make us their parents? Yes, of course. Are WE blessed to have them in our lives? More than you know. Are we glad that they are our children? Absolutely!
But here’s what you might not realize about adoption:
For adoption to be possible, tragedy must first occur. Particularly in the case of foster care adoption.
In order for our children to become “our children,” they had to have their first parental ties severed. That in itself is a tragedy. No, it’s not a tragedy that unsafe and harmful ties to our children were cut; it’s not a tragedy that our children were made safe and placed in a safe and stable home. It’s a tragedy that that HAD to happen at all. It’s a tragedy when first parents are unable or unwilling to care for their children. It’s a tragedy when a child has to be told that the parents from whom they were born were unsafe and dangerous for them.
It’s a paradox that healthy adults struggle to understand; we can’t even begin to expect a child to comprehend it.
In addition to the sad fact that there is often a need to permanently separate a child from his birth parents, there are the individual tragedies that our children face during their first life. Those few short years between birth and permanency can be wrought with terror like none most people will ever face in a lifetime.
I have children who are pragmatic by nature and children who look at EVERYTHING through an emotional screen. And you’ll most likely never know which are which.
My pragmatic children are still emotional, and they look at their circumstances in the light of, “why do people do things like that?” while still allowing their emotions about the situations to show through strong statements about their birth parents and the choices they made.
My emotional children, however, refuse to see the necessity through the tragedy, and struggle with bitterness over the circumstances of their pasts. Telling them how blessed they are to be in our family – or any other similar statements – is like throwing pure gasoline on a fire. They already have trouble processing the tragedy of the past that required they become part of a new family; the “greatness” or “blessing” of this new family is inconsequential. When you tell them they are lucky to have us, they are hearing you say they are lucky their first parents abandoned them; they hear you telling them they are lucky to have been through all the crap they have been through.
And while as adults, we can (usually) look back over struggles and tragedy and hardships and see how they have helped make us the people we are, children are NOT capable of that.
So please, no matter how well-meaning you are, don’t ever allude to my children’s lives being “better” by being with us, with any phrase of any form.
DO feel free, however, to express how blessed WE are by them ;-).