Neutral event

12 Apr

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)



Posted by on April 12, 2016 in Adoption, adoptive parents


Tags: ,

7 responses to “Neutral event

  1. eagoodlife

    April 13, 2016 at 12:32 am

    I agree. My parents presented my adoption in a factual way – no big dramas, no excited howls of joy, no ‘gottchaday’, no artificial feelings just down to earth “This is how it was as we know it” Not perfect because the truth is hard to find in adoption but they did their best. And if adopters are worried about us being defined by our adoption, bit late now!! We are and always will be adoptees. If they do their job right we’ll be ‘out, loud and proud’.


  2. eagoodlife

    April 13, 2016 at 12:36 am

    Reblogged this on The Life Of Von and commented:
    And the one it seems many parents worry about – their child ‘being defined by being adopted’, See comments!


  3. Tia

    April 13, 2016 at 2:12 am

    Presenting adoption in positive framework can make the experience of being adopted more lonely and isolating.


    • TAO

      April 13, 2016 at 3:03 am

      I’m sorry…


  4. maryanne

    April 13, 2016 at 12:31 pm

    I like the idea of presenting adoption as a neutral event, but not presenting it as positive also means not presenting it as wholly negative as many anti-adoption advocates do. Adoptions happen because of some unfortunate circumstances in the natural family, some temporary, and surrender could have been avoided had the mother been given more help, some long term and not fixable in time for the child to safely remain in that family. Adoptive parents should find out all they can about the circumstances and the natural family, and always be honest with the adoptee in age-appropriate ways. Adoption should not be presented as identical to having a biological child, and certainly not as superior (“you were chosen”). Adoption in and of itself is neither wonderful warm fuzzy altruism, nor is it a child-stealing horror. It is one kind of family than contains sadness and adversity as well as happiness. Neutral is certainly the best way to present it to the adoptee, and to the world, and always let the adoptee express her own feelings about being adopted.


  5. Momengineer

    April 13, 2016 at 7:32 pm

    Raising a teen-ager is easier with the neutral adoption approach. Acknowledge the bad stuff. No one should lose their first parents to populations quotas, live in an orphanage, be stigmatized by transracial adoption, or be perceived as a perpetual child. But I freely admit, she is the best thing that ever happened to my life and the day we met is a happy day for me.
    All parents, especially adoptive parents must remember: We are raising the world’s future adults.
    Teens sometimes grow through pushing and testing. The “happily ever after” adoption story is a great one to debunk with your teen and help them grow.



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