If I had a magic wand…

11 Aug

I’d wave it and magically remove the insecurity *some* adoptive parents have over commonly used terms that offend them, every time.  Terms that aren’t going to magically disappear from the lexicon.  Terms like ‘real’ in reference to a biological family.  I’d also bestow on you the ability to take the power away from terms like ‘real’. 

And, you know what else I’d take away?  This idea that everyone else (those outside of adoption) must educate themselves about adoption and know exactly what is okay, and what isn’t.

Why, oh why, do you let a word have the power to make you feel so small?  It’s just a word.  The only people who matter are your friends and family.

Why play the – if they use ‘real’ they obviously mean we are fake game with yourselves.  Why assume they have that intention?  Why not assume they are just using the term ‘real’ because it is the norm, not a put-down?

The term ‘real’ isn’t going away.  Positive adoption language has been around since the 1980’s, even if you take that decade away because there wasn’t the internet and focus on the last couple of decades, it’s still not going away.  Stretch yourself back to your pre-adoption era, did you use ‘real’?  Did you mean it as a slur on adoptive families? Did you mean adoptive parents were fake?  No?  You used it because it meant biological? Then why assume that using ‘real’ now means fake?

And let’s be honest, this whole latest internet dust-up with article after article written about how horrible the comment was, centers around the fact that you hear you aren’t a ‘real’ parent any time someone stumbles over terms, or is being ignorant, deliberately or just unaware.

Why do I care so much to write another post?  You are raising adoptees.  They deserve to know you are the calm port to come to when they need you.  They don’t need you questioning who you are, who your family is, because somebody said something the wrong way.  They need to learn how to embrace being a different type of family.

Another reason.  You took offense and completely obliterated the story of an amazing person.  This amazing person is also an adoptee, which means, your children will have another person they can identify with, because, they too are adopted, just like she is.  But, based on the thousands of comments by upset parents about an ignorant comment, your needs came first and, that angst is being translated to your children even if you don’t say a word.

Why not be proud you are a parent by adoption?

Why not take the power away from the word ‘real’ and embrace being known as an adoptive parent? Embrace being different from the norm.  Adoptees like me have taken the power back, we are adopted, not were, we are, always will be.  We are different.  We own it.  It is who we are.

Who are you?  That’s the question you need to wrestle with.


Posted by on August 11, 2016 in Uncategorized


Tags: , , , , , , ,

13 responses to “If I had a magic wand…

  1. Changeling

    August 11, 2016 at 3:31 pm

    I love your writings and my only wish is that you could publish these through The Guardian and/or Huff Post so it reaches the people who need to read these! 🙂


    • TAO

      August 11, 2016 at 3:34 pm

      Thank you – I wouldn’t be comfortable with that, its just not me. I do appreciate those who come by to hear my ramblings and stop and chat…

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Frank Ligtvoet

    August 11, 2016 at 4:54 pm

    Totally agree!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. L4R

    August 11, 2016 at 6:44 pm

    This comment isn’t directed at you, Tao. But, I would expand the magic wands reach to n-parents and adoptees, too. Sometimes we’re all too close to the subject. At those times we have to work harder to not be offended by comments.

    Liked by 2 people

    • TAO

      August 11, 2016 at 6:47 pm

      True enough – it’s needed across the board. And you know – you can always include me too, I value your words.


  4. Heather

    August 12, 2016 at 9:19 am

    Once again, thank you for expressing yourself so well.


  5. Eve

    August 12, 2016 at 10:06 am

    thank you for this! Yes, I’m an adoptive parent and I’m proud! 🙂


  6. yan

    August 12, 2016 at 12:07 pm

    I like this perspective — and it resonates with a story I was reading recently about an adopted child who, when he was overcome with sadness about losing his natural family, *was able to go talk to his (a)mom about it and cry in her arms.* How amazing would it be if that were the kind of strength and preparation that we looked for in adoptive parents?

    Liked by 1 person

    • beth62

      August 12, 2016 at 3:31 pm

      Wouldn’t it be something if someone could say…

      John’s aunt and uncle are really his mom and dad.

      His mom and dad are really his aunt and uncle.

      And when any one asks, oh, well who is his really his father, mother?

      It’s answered with – Joe and Sue are really his parents, she is Uncle Bob’s sister.

      And then we all move along because it’s all really real and no one really has a problem with these things that are real.

      I witnessed that happen today IRL, all of the real people were present, it was really refreshing to see….. and slightly shocking to me LOL

      Liked by 2 people

  7. Momengineer

    August 12, 2016 at 4:56 pm

    Hi Tao,
    You are so right! My daughter and I had a wonderful vacation in DC last month. I could have ruined it by doing anything but smiling and saying “Yep, she’s my daughter”
    We also had the chance to openly discuss, race in US history, the Chinese one child policy, immigration, and the role of women in the world. Her parents in China, though still unknown, are simply a fact of our family.
    She is really growing up to be quite the young woman!

    Liked by 1 person

    • TAO

      August 12, 2016 at 4:59 pm

      Thank you. Both/and…


  8. onewomanschoice

    August 18, 2016 at 7:43 pm

    Hi Tao, Growing up in a step family, we often used “real” versus step to differentiate which dad. Kids would ask me about my, “real dad.” My siblings, who had a different dad than me, would say they were going to visit their “real dad.” I don’t know how it made our step dad feel. He never said anything to us. Like you stated above, it was never intended to offend our step dad. He did more for us than our own fathers. But then years later as I began to use biological dad versus real dad. My “real” father was offended that I referred to him as my “biological” father. He said that is for someone who just gets someone pregnant and then walks away and/or is not there for their child. I guess he doesn’t consider spending 12 years in prison, from the time I was four years old, as not being their for his child.

    We can get caught up in the game with names and roles. It doesn’t really matter. Look inside your heart. What really matters is when my time has ended, did I make a difference, a positive difference in the lives of others.

    As for the adoption piece, I am honored that my son and his family by adoption respect my role in his life. Recently he posted a picture of his biological family (mother, father, brother and himself), taken recently and captioned it…”with the originals.”



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