Expectations of gratitude…

01 Aug

“Hi there, how are you?”  “I’m good, thanks, how are you all doing?”Not bad, busy with work and the kids”… Does this sound fairly typical to you when you meet up with an acquaintance you haven’t seen for a while?  Polite chit-chat that seems to be a ritual of putting on a good face that says nothing to see here, carry on…

I think we all do it…

We don’t want to probe deeper unless we actually want to hear how they are really doing (and few do), the surface level banter makes us believe we are connected, we understand how they are feeling.  What you are feeling inside, whether it is physical, or spiritual exhaustion, or pain, isn’t something we are comfortable hearing in our daily life.  We don’t want to know someone is crying on the inside, lonely, hurting, feeling, as if, no one else cares.  We aren’t comfortable with grief, pain, sorrow.  We associate it with being weak, lack of desire to overcome, will to continue on.  I think it is rooted in self-preservation.  If we see it around us, then it means we too, are vulnerable.  We too, might not be strong.  We might actually not be okay.  Living with our head in the sand to the pain of others, makes our world seem secure.

It’s also, the easy way out…

One of reasons I continue to read the on-line adoption community, is watching this play out in conversations and waiting for the day when the spinning of the positive by some, the pushback by others saying wait a minute, there’s a lot of pain happening all around while you spreading your message of it’s so beautiful, finally stops.  I’m waiting for the day when the adoption community as a collective, finds the understanding, and the ability to accept that both good and bad feelings can exist in a person adopted.  One can have the best of the best and still have pain…but I think in adoption that is further complicated, and by extension put on the adoptee, by what happened first, the domino effect for lack of a better word.

Whether a parent always wanted to adopt, felt called to adopt, or grappled with infertility (regardless if a fairly easy transition to adoption, or one that caused deep pain and time).  They pinned their hopes, dreams and expectations of parenthood, on the children they would adopt*.  The children would fulfill them, make their dreams of parenthood come true in raising happy children in an environment where they thrived.  With adoption, perhaps because it is different, or harder, it seems that in order for that dream to come true, the adoptees, their children, and by extension, children of other adoptive parents, now adults, must show how grateful, and happy, they are in every aspect of life and their adoption.  There must not be any woe.

And of course, life has a way of throwing curve balls and adoption is no exception.  I sit back, and most often, silently watch the interactions of what happens when those feelings, clash with other adoptive parents expectations of all will be fine (or must be fine) in my perfect world of being a parent to an adopted child.  This past week was no exception.

Land of Gazillion Adoptees Facebook post here quoting part of a blog post by a Korean Adoptee (follow the link and read the blog post).  That post, created with words that wove and painted a picture was hauntingly beautiful in describing how she felt.  I was in awe that anyone could paint a picture with mere words.  While the subject was hard, the words made her feelings jump off the page and become real to me, a bystander.  I started to read the comments on the FB page, and of course there would be an adoptive parent chiming in.  “Are there no Happy Korean Adoptees?  Did all of us adoptive parents do such a bad job?”  To me this clearly explains the clash, the invisible reality that to some adoptive parents – adoptees as a whole, must only be grateful to have been rescued, and adopted, by people who took the “unwanted” babies into their homes, and raised them, as if, they were their own.  There can be no downside to being adopted, because that would mean they failed as parents, despite having mouthed platitudes of understanding there may (or will) be, things to be worked through for the adoptee.

No one ever needs to tell an adoptee they need to be grateful they were adopted and given a home.  The way they are spoken too, the requirements of only positive, the angst that even a post about being angry that her homeland didn’t give a damn about their “orphans”, brought that point home as clear as could be.  Adoptees must be grateful they were adopted.  No other feeling can exist, that is the payment expected by some in the adoption community (on-line and in real life)…only gratitude and thankfulness is acceptable…step up, pay your dues…

So adoptive parents, next time you hear an adoptee state that they are tired of being told to be grateful, and you righteously cringe, and say you would never say that, you don’t expect it; please re-examine your reactions to adoptee posts, does any mention of feeling sad, being mad, make you angry, do you share it and talk about it in a meaningful manner of understanding?  Do you read the posts that are hard for you to hear?  Or, do you only hold up adoptees who say they are thankful for being adopted and never felt out-of-place?  If yes, you may indeed be saying it, over, and over again, all without saying the actual words.  Nothing in this life is all beautiful, or all sad, life is a series of good and bad, and when adoptees are only allowed to speak the good to be heard by you – you are shouting to all of them – You must only be grateful you were adopted, your parents rescued you, where would you be if you hadn’t been adopted.  You aren’t allowed to feel anything except gratitude…

*Yes, I know the same exists in biological parenting but adoption is different and I’m talking about adoption…




Posted by on August 1, 2014 in Adoption, adoptive parents


Tags: , , , ,

25 responses to “Expectations of gratitude…

  1. eagoodlife

    August 1, 2014 at 11:46 pm

    Reblogged this on The Life Of Von and commented:
    Life is not all beauty and happiness, even the adopted life!


  2. Lara/Trace

    August 2, 2014 at 12:47 am

    I’m waiting too…


    • TAO

      August 2, 2014 at 12:59 am

      Thanks Lara – it seems so simple of a request but apparently it’s huge…


  3. Dannie

    August 2, 2014 at 3:29 am

    Beautiful post. Honesty can sometimes hurt, but I think I’d rather have a child that can talk honestly even if I cry at night in the privacy of my bedroom, than a child that feels like they have to lie or not be completely honest with their feelings


    • TAO

      August 3, 2014 at 12:43 am

      I think you will find the right way Dannie – you both have old souls…


  4. Adoptee Moi

    August 2, 2014 at 7:45 am

    Hi Tao, Thank you for your post … so true that when Adoptees are honest about what they struggle with, they are labelled as bad Adoptees. I was a good Adoptee until I was 43, when I found out I was Adopted. When I told my mother that I had found out I was adopted, I never heard those words “I love you” again from her. I was still the same person … so what had changed? I’m happy to be a bad Adoptee and speak out about the truth of my adoption experience, which is all I have, for those that will listen. It’s my life, my experience, my perspective and my pain.
    Keep blogging 🙂


    • TAO

      August 3, 2014 at 12:44 am

      Adoptee Moi – I am so very sorry you weren’t told. So sorry, and then to have your mom react that way. Sad for you.


  5. Barbaloot

    August 2, 2014 at 12:21 pm

    YES. Cringe. People dump so many expectations on their children. I think sometimes APs get into this mindset of seeking approval, maybe a lingering affect of the homestudy process, and read adoption/ adoptee blogs wanting to be affirmed in their parenting. They want to hear someone praise their APs so they can be assured their children won’t grow up to write a blog about them. And of course that is more of making adoption all about the APs. We APs are the ones who should be grateful – grateful that we have the experience of being parents, grateful for the joy it brings and the sometimes painful personal growth it involves, grateful that we have children who stretch us and grateful when our children are able to share ALL of their feelings with us. That’s true of all parents, but extra true for those of us who became parents only because of someone else’s loss. (And of course it doesn’t mean we can’t vent and complain like all parents, all humans, need to do sometimes.) I’ve noticed the most joyful days with my son come after he has been able to tell me that he is scared or sad or upset about something. Being able to let those hard feelings out and be heard and snuggled or given space or role play or whatever lets him relax and feel happy – and I am grateful for that happiness we can share.


    • TAO

      August 3, 2014 at 12:45 am

      and that is because he can trust you with the hard so the happy is extra spontaneous fun! so happy you comment here.


  6. Beth

    August 2, 2014 at 12:50 pm

    ” I’ve noticed the most joyful days with my son come after he has been able to tell me that he is scared or sad or upset about something. Being able to let those hard feelings out and be heard and snuggled or given space or role play or whatever lets him relax and feel happy – and I am grateful for that happiness we can share. ”

    I honestly believe that is what the joy of parenthood truly is. Those moments were the best, the most soulful and remembered parts for me and mine. What came after was even more joy.

    I find it hard to understand why so many parents avoid it like it’s something to avoid. And many after much work and wait to obtain the joy of parenthood. It’s not all about sharing pics and accomplishments, etc., that’s only part of it.
    Please, take the whole big piece of cake! And eat it too! There is no dieting in joyful parenthood!


    • TAO

      August 3, 2014 at 12:47 am

      Beth – can’t say just how much I’m loving you back posting again…


  7. Stefani

    August 3, 2014 at 12:03 am

    When my oldest tells me she is sad and misses her birth mother, I tell her I miss her birth mother too. We snuggle and cry together. Parenting, no matter how you get there, is never all rainbows and unicorns. Pain is real for everyone. I’m grateful for all the days I get to be her mom, not just the happy ones. Wish more AP’s understood this!


    • TAO

      August 3, 2014 at 12:29 am

      Thanks Stefani – I worry and continue to write for the little ones coming up…glad to know some (perhaps even many) do understand.


  8. Mary Anna King

    August 3, 2014 at 9:39 am

    ” You aren’t allowed to feel anything except gratitude…” definitely something I struggle with all the time. Especially as a female as well. If you are not *only* grateful, you are Angry and if you are and Angry Woman….? Well there are plenty of less than kind words for that. thanks for posting.


  9. Valentine Logar

    August 3, 2014 at 1:53 pm

    Yes, this is the truth. Beautifully stated Tao. Thank you also for the share, it was as you said, wonderfully written.


  10. millanney

    August 5, 2014 at 5:36 am

    Reblogged this on millyannecannotbefound.


  11. veggiemom

    August 6, 2014 at 2:36 am

    My older daughter wants to start her own blog “to tell the stupid parents what they really need to know”. It makes me so sad that I worry that at 13 she will be hurt by being labeled as an “angry adoptee” just for voicing her own reality when she is the least angry person there is. She just doesn’t shy away from saying that there’s more to adoption than rainbows and unicorns.


    • TAO

      August 6, 2014 at 2:48 am

      Veggiemom – I’ve missed you so much! Perhaps it’s time you started your blog back up – not about the kids – but telling AP’s coming up that reality is so much more complicated than the positive everything adoption. You have a better way of saying it – voices like yours are needed for those with toddlers who just can’t picture any downside. Wow, glad I checked in before bed.

      Did you rebuild? Are you guys all okay and settled now?


      • TAO

        August 6, 2014 at 3:07 am

        and you know Veggiemom, I’d be honored if you wrote a post for this blog…if you didn’t want to open your blog back up…


  12. Robyn C

    August 23, 2014 at 6:09 am

    “does any mention of feeling sad, being mad, make you angry, do you share it and talk about it in a meaningful manner of understanding? Do you read the posts that are hard for you to hear? Or, do you only hold up adoptees who say they are thankful for being adopted and never felt out-of-place? ”

    1. No, any mention of sadness or anger does not make me angry. My son’s only 8.5, and I can see that sometimes, adoption makes him sad. Sometimes, he’s mad that he has siblings who don’t live with us. Adoption is hard. So, yeah… it only makes sense that there are a lot of emotions to be felt.
    2. Yes, I do read posts that are harder for me to hear. However, I don’t read posts by people who liken adoption to slavery, who think that the entire institution should be abolished, or who hold that their “truth” is the only truth, the only experience that matters. I also don’t read posts by people who can’t write a grammatically correct sentence. It drives me batty.


    • TAO

      August 23, 2014 at 1:30 pm

      He’s at that age when he can start to see both sides…a hard age I remember – the start of the push/pull reality of adoption that can come back again throughout life.

      I don’t like anger that makes absolutes because it isn’t based on the full reality of all the different reasons, personalities, choices, realities. Yet I have absolutely no respect for people who are so pro-adoption that is all unicorns and rainbows and treat feelings of grief (adoptees and first parents) as something that positive sayings, positive feelings, and if you are just positive enough, you too will see why everyone deserves to be adopted so they are special and how wonderful it truly is – and treats the pain of infertility and not having children as real (that’s how they come across to me). Hopefully that made sense as I haven’t consumed enough coffee.

      I always think of you when I am struggling with punctuation – at least I’m far better at sentence structure than I was after I first learned how to write/speak again – now I can fix that by walking away and checking again (or a couple dozen times)…


    • anenomekym

      September 2, 2014 at 4:13 am

      Hi Robyn,
      Thanks for your honest feedback. I appreciate that hearing about slavery can be difficult on one’s ears (and heart). As I’ve learned more about the policies and laws affecting adoption, I’ve come to see how there are similarities between adoption laws and slavery practices. This really isn’t a reflection on the adoptive parents (or at least many), but much more an acknowledgement of the current legal system and practices of adoption throughout most of the US.

      1) The original identities of slaves were irrelevant. They were given new identities of their new masters however the masters saw fit.
      1a) In current adoption laws, adoptees are forever cut off from having or knowing the truth about their origins, original identity, connections to their origins (via their OBC and/or closed adoptions).

      2) In slavery, slaves were advertised, put on the auction block, and measured for purchase by potential new owners who would decide whether these slaves would be useful for the field, the house, or some other purpose.
      2a) In adoption, children are photographed, specs/stories are written about them, and potential adopters decide whether they would like to adopt them, if these children would fit into their image of family or whatever their reason for adopting is.

      3) In slavery, the money exchanged hands, often through a third party.
      3a) In adoption, money is often exchanged, often through lawyers, adoption agencies, tax credits, etc.

      4) In regards to the government census, slaves were counted as 3/5 of a person. Laws forbade them from voting.
      4a) In adoption, adult adoptees are also discriminated against. Unlike every other person, adult adoptees’ birth certificates are altered and their originals are permanently sealed, by US government entities and laws.

      5) Slaves didn’t have the option or power to not be slaves. Other people’s actions/laws turned them into slaves.
      5a) Adopted people didn’t have the option or power to not become adopted. Other people made the choice to adopt them, and voilà, they are now adopted.

      Either way, adoption practices would be better, just, and more ethical for the children (who undergo huge transitions without any sayso), if some of the laws/and practices were changed (OBC access, advertising, re-homing, $$$/donations/tax credits).

      Unfortunately, ignoring the issues of 1a, 2a, 3a, 4a, and 5a, and others, current adoption practices won’t change and will still have similarities to slavery practices. The best way to stop people from making those comparisons is to change those practices that are similar to slavery. I hope you can come to understand some of this, for your children’s sake.


      • TAO

        September 2, 2014 at 1:40 pm

        I never thought of the sentiment in that way. You have made me think and given me something to really reflect on. Thank you! I think that comparison is completely different than what instantly pops into an adoptive parents mind…


        • anenomekym

          September 2, 2014 at 6:47 pm

          You’re welcome, TAO. To me, this has helped explain the fervor and zeal of responses against some adoptees. Adopted people aren’t supposed to have voices or consider themselves people.

          And yes, I agree, most AP’s don’t think of adoption this way (and don’t want to). It takes a very secure AP (or person) and with patience, wisdom, and open mind to step back and see this aspect of adoption.

          In a way, some AP’s are also victims (of a sort) in this system, being led to spend $$$ and expect almost-guarantees of perfect families, memories, and experiences for the $$$/time/emotions they’ve endured. Yet, it is also their desires, dreams, and willingness to pay market prices that perpetuate the profitability of this system.

          And likewise, thank you for broadening my mind.


  13. Lynne Miller

    November 21, 2014 at 6:31 pm

    Excellent post. Adoption is so very complicated. If they want to be good parents, adoptive parents must encourage their children to speak out and air their feelings, good and bad. Being a parent is a tough job, period. My sister and I never knew we were adopted so we were never expected to be grateful for it. I am thankful our parents never dumped that burden on us, but not grateful for having been kept in the dark about the adoptions. That’s a story for another day.



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