Last post linked to Lori’s post where I asked a question and she answered. Part of what I said is: “The adoptee’s needs cannot be met when adoption is hyped as solely a positive event. Until parents treat it as a neutral fact of how they *build their family…”. That thought has popped up several times since then, and each time it took me to reflecting on how adoption was handled in my home. I’ve decided that neutral is my preference.
First let me explain what I mean by neutral. Factual representation of something, what it is, why it happens, benefits, downsides, and the result. Each described without words meant to persuade (or bias) the listener about how they should feel about any part.
I’ve always been uncomfortable with the over-the-top hype about how positive adoption is promoted. Whether it is being adopted, choosing adoption for the babe, choosing to adopt. It’s promoted as a huge positive everywhere I look. It isn’t how it was handled in my home, adoption was neither a positive or negative – just a fact that explained how we became a family, being adopted meant mom and dad were my mom and dad, and my mother probably didn’t have a choice. Their way of explaining complex life events started with factual honesty, no positive or negative spin – just told with caring about both the good and the bad so we’d learn, and if there was a lesson to take away, talked about until we understood. I’m not saying mom and dad were perfect parents, they weren’t, no parent is, but I’m good with how they raised us.
Today, it seems some parents want to present adoption, being adopted, even choosing adoption for the babe as a positive to their children with the intent they grow up feeling positive about being adopted. I get it – who wouldn’t want that – but is there also a down side to pushing the positive only adoption message to the child? Will the positive-only messaging tell them it isn’t okay to talk honestly about their feelings about being adopted if they are so inclined?
Here are a few reasons why treating being adopted as a neutral event might be better than as a positive event…
The child not feeling conflicted internally about feeling any challenging thoughts about being adopted – when you (the parent) see it only as a positive.
Nothing in life as complex as adoption for the adoptee can be only positive or only negative – requiring it to be either/or has to be unhelpful to the one adopted.
Feeling free to talk to you about any challenging thoughts about being adopted because it’s a neutral subject, just a fact of how they came into the family.
Being free to form their own views on being adopted and adoption because it’s been discussed neutrally – that are also allowed to change as they go through each developmental stage and lived experiences happen, thereby enhancing critical thinking skills.
And the one it seems many parents worry about – their child ‘being defined by being adopted’, which of the two (positive or neutral) is more likely to make that happen – treating adoption as such a positive, or as a neutral event of how you came into the family?
(*yes, build should be built)