November 14th prompt…The Things People Say
What is the strangest thing anyone has ever said to you or asked you about being adopted? What is the most insightful thing anyone has ever said to you about being adopted? Has anyone ever shared your story without your permission? If so, how did that make you feel? Who “owns” your story and what part of your story do you share with others in your adoption “triad”? Is there a line when it comes to sharing? If so, where is that line drawn for you?
None of the questions are speaking to me, but the Things People Say prompt is, so going off script again – so to speak…What I would like to talk about are the positive adoption statements made today that are so hard and fast that they deny any other reality. Those statements are bringing back and/or continuing the stereotypical comments told to adoptees repeatedly throughout their lives. Comments most of us have been subjected to over time such as:
You are so lucky to be adopted. You should be grateful to be adopted. You could have been aborted. Your parents rescued you. Your parents took you in. You get my drift, and these are the most benign of the statements, and every single comment also makes it unacceptable to speak to any other feelings related to adoption.
If everyone only speaks of adoption as wonderful, then how can we expect others to grasp the fact that in order to be adopted – not only did you lose your mother, father, grandparents but your entire family. Some adoptees feel that loss very deeply even at a young age, some older, some never do. Yet any adoptee having been subjected directly to the type of comments above, or indirectly by statements made to their parents about being the proverbial saints for taking in the child most likely will have a hard time finding their voice to share their feelings. Think about it when you listen to these common statements.
Adoption is a Miracle – Adoption is when a child grew in its mommy’s heart instead of her tummy – The Blessing of Adoption – Meant to be – Adoption means love – Adoption is destiny – Adoption is the greatest gift…
How can a child, or even an adult adoptee dare to say anything about what they feel inside, when the world thinks adoption is all sunshine and roses? If they do speak up, they are labelled as angry, mal-adjusted, had a bad experience…
It places too great a burden when the shiny side is voiced as the only side. We would never do that to widow or widower who remarried, a child who lost one parent and still lives with the other parent, or anyone who lost their family. We would acknowledge the sad side and the new side. When only one side of adoption is promoted – we silence the adoptee – the one at the very heart of the adoption.
Lets work to show the full picture of adoption – so those stereotypical comments go away for good.
Connected to the above discussion and specifically on the you could have been aborted comment – the choose life – adoption is an option message being promoted by CPC’s, PRC’s, adoption agencies, churches, are promoting the continuation of the stereotype that adoptees could have been aborted. The message is also combined with the message of providing a gift of a child – for couples with infertility who long to be parents. I am not trying to say anything negative here – simply that the message can, and does promote the you could have been aborted comments we get.
This is what the message looked like in my era. Not nearly as massaged to be politically correct – rather framed in plain speak and was the view of some, perhaps many.
“Dear Abby: I wonder if those people who are all for birth control and abortion have ever stopped to consider that every year thousands of childless couples have been able to adopt babies only because they were illegitimate.
Unwed mothers actually serve a very useful purpose in society, don’t they?
Signed Against Birth Control And Abortion
Dear Against: It’s true that because of illegitimacy, many couples have been able to become parents thru adoption.
But to say that “the unwed mother serves a useful purpose in society” is like comparing illegitimacy to a heart transplant. It’s wonderful for the recipient, but serves no useful purpose for the donor.”
I am not sure exactly what Abby meant by the “serves no useful purpose for the donor” but I know her twin, Ann, spoke of mothers (not birthmothers – mothers) giving up their children as a “bitter experience” so my assumption is Abby was trying to convey the same in the example she gave.