Positive and Negative Connotations…

13 Mar


Someone much wiser than I, explained the problem with saying to an adoptee that they should be grateful they were adopted. I have always had problems explaining just why that statement sticks in my craw, and I know it bothers other too.

Grateful for being adopted – no…
Grateful, as in appreciative of the life I was given and my parents who adopted me – yes…

Besides the obvious fact that being grateful for loosing your family just seems wrong on any level, the wording of it, “you should be grateful for being adopted“, may create a feeling of forced indebtedness, from which the adoptee can’t ever get out from under. That feeling of indebtedness, could become a destructive force in the relationship when you are expected to feel a certain way.

On the other hand, having appreciation for what you have been given in life, and the people in your life, is beneficial and we should all be appreciative of the good life brings us. The value of everything is enhanced, and relationships are easy, lasting, and filled with joy.

Not sure there is much else to say, but thought I would share for those who don’t understand the knee-jerk reaction to that statement.  As to why indebtedness – early adoption history is intertwined with indentured children, and not so long ago either.  I thought it would add to the topic to delve into it a bit.

I found this scanned pdf of a study to be fascinating, thought-provoking, and educational. It was interesting to note that even back then, age played a role in whether the child was adopted after they were indentured to the family. Only 10% of the children who stayed indentured were placed at under three years of age, and 57% of the indentured children who were adopted, were placed under the age of three. It also notes that 47% of the indentured children who were adopted were illegitimate, and thus entered the state public school at an earlier age.

Anyone who enjoys adoption or foster care history should take the time to read the study below – some parts you can skim over.

Children indentured by the Wisconsin State Public School (a study 1925)
“Of the total 827 children indentured during the selected period 298 had been legally adopted, 268 were still wards of the institution on April 1, 1925, and 261 had been released from jurisdiction before that date. either because they had become 18 years of age or had been transferred to other institutions or because they had been restored to the legal custody of their parents by order of the State board of control. The records of children who had been legally adopted after beings indentured were eliminated from the number to be considered in selecting cases to be revisited. Of the 529 other children who had been placed in indenture homes during the five-year period, the histories of 452 (228 who had been released from jurisdiction and 224 who were still wards) who were followed up by the bureau agents the selection being made entirely on the basis of geographical availability and the number that could be covered during the period of the study.”


Posted by on March 13, 2013 in Adoption, Uncategorized


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7 responses to “Positive and Negative Connotations…

  1. Beth

    March 15, 2013 at 3:12 am

    That IS interesting. Working on genealogy I’ve found one of my peoples line to be full of indentured children and ‘bound’ children… and preachers. Only a small percentage seems to be illegitimate. Some sent money home to parents and younger siblings at the end of their bond or indenture or when they were paid. Quite a few took the name of the family they were bound to when they became adults.

    I’m trying to learn more of the history of it all.

    Do you know what year adoption (actual changing of birth records) first came about?
    Was it called ‘adoption’ before then?

    One of my ancestors was a “bound boy” and
    “in 1802 was bound to _____ At the next term of court, he appeared and had the binding revoked.
    He then, at age 11, went to live with the neighbor and was trained to be a chain carrier when a land grant is surveyed. Chain carriers were usually younger men.”
    From other records it “looks” like the neighbor paid to have his binding revoked so he could work for him, and “better conditions” was mentioned in court documents. I couldn’t tell if he was bound again or not.

    He chose to take this mans last name at “age of maturity”.

    this explanation of ‘bound boys’ I found was interesting;


  2. Beth

    March 15, 2013 at 3:26 am

    Here’s another one;
    it goes on in history to mention the New York Foundling Hospital and the Children’s Aid Society.

    um, warning! you have to be careful when searching for bound boys, careful what you click on… omg too many pervs out there!


  3. Beth

    March 15, 2013 at 4:16 am The Little Bound-Boy by Mary Roberts Rinehart

    Doh, I’m not searching for anymore tonight LOL


  4. Joan Wheeler (@forbiddenfamily)

    March 15, 2013 at 4:38 am

    Beth,, adoption as we know it today began in America after 1930. Before 1930, children were adopted and they kept their birth certificates and the adoptive parents received adoption papers. After 1930, oone by one, states began to seal birth certificates and tehn issue new, amended birth certificates for every adoptee. Even in the two states that enver sealed birth certificates – Kansas and Alaska – these states, too, created false birth certificates for adoptees upon the finalization of adoption.

    No, I’m not grateful for being adopted. I’m happy for the childhood I had, but I was a “kept” child. They knew all along I had siblings, but they didn’t want me to ever know.

    You can see the 1930 Paper that started our country on the path of fraud, deception and corruption in adoption by going to my website:


    • Beth

      March 15, 2013 at 9:38 pm

      Thank you Joan. I remember seeing an old black and white movie, I wish I could remember the name of it. But it was about talking people into adopting the illegitimate without shame, which they didn’t want to do (ugh) and why/when they started altering the the birth certificates – to hide the ones stamped ‘illegitimate’ … and what Dickons said

      I do wonder when taking in someone else’s child started being called adoption? Was that the thirties too? I guess some of the things I have read, written much later, may have called it adoption at that point when it was not called that at the time?
      And I wonder who came up with the A word?

      Thanks ya’ll, I’ll check out all the links tomorrow, it’s dancin’ nite for me 🙂
      I plan on being grateful for what i want to be grateful for, depends on the day, not what anyone else has to say!


  5. TAO

    March 15, 2013 at 12:26 pm

    Beth – Joan is correct that it started sometime in the thirties but who knows how long it took for every state to comply. I will see if I can find a great article that speaks to why it happened and it was to benefit the child because with a different last name AND the birth certificates open to public review during the first part of the century it was tough. I will see if I can find it.

    You might like to listen to the interviews on this post – the second video at the end is where Art Linkletter speaks of legally changing his name to match his adoptive family name.


  6. shannon2818

    March 15, 2013 at 3:44 pm

    I don’t like the assumption that our children should be grateful to us (for the adoption anyway).



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