From the 2012 archives: The Things People Say prompt…

22 Mar

This post was part of a daily adoptee blogging prompt for National Adoption Month 2012, the prompt did nothing for me so I went with an alternative: The Things People Say

None of the questions are speaking to me, but the Things People Say prompt is, so going off script again, so to speak.  What I would like to talk about are the positive adoption statements made today that are so hard and fast that they deny any other reality.  Those statements are bringing back and/or continuing the stereotypical comments told to adoptees repeatedly throughout their lives.

Comments most of us have been subjected to over time such as:

You are so lucky to be adopted.  You should be grateful to be adopted.  You could have been aborted.  Your parents rescued you.  Your parents took you in.  You get my drift, and these are the most benign of the statements, and every single comment also makes it unacceptable to speak to any other feelings related to adoption.

If everyone only speaks of adoption as wonderful, then how can we expect others to grasp the fact that in order to be adopted, not only did you lose your mother, father, grandparents, but your entire family.  Some adoptees feel that loss very deeply even at a young age, some older, some never do.  Yet any adoptee having been subjected directly to the type of comments above, or indirectly by statements made to their parents about being the proverbial saints for taking in the child, most likely will have a hard time finding their voice to share their feelings.

Think about it when you listen to these common statements.

Adoption is a Miracle – Adoption is when a child grew in its mommy’s heart instead of her tummy – The Blessing of Adoption – Meant to be – Adoption means love – Adoption is destiny – Adoption is the greatest gift…

How can a child, or even an adult adoptee, dare to say anything about what they feel inside, when the world thinks adoption is all sunshine and roses?  If they do speak up, they are labelled as angry, mal-adjusted, had a bad experience.

It places too great a burden when the shiny side is voiced as the only side.

We would never do that to widow or widower who remarried, a child who lost one parent and still lives with the other parent, or anyone who lost their family.  We would acknowledge the sad side and the new side.  When only one side of adoption is promoted – we silence the adoptee – the one at the very heart of the adoption.

Lets work to show the full picture of adoption – so those stereotypical comments go away for good.

Connected to the above discussion and specifically on the you could have been aborted comment – the choose life – adoption is an option message being promoted by CPC’s, PRC’s, adoption agencies, churches, are promoting the continuation of the stereotype that adoptees could have been aborted.  The message is also combined with the message of providing a gift of a child – for couples with infertility who long to be parents.  I am not trying to say anything negative here – simply that the message can, and does promote the you could have been aborted comments we get.

(slightly edited)


This is what the message looked like in my era.  Not nearly as massaged to be politically correct – rather framed in plain speak and was the view of some, perhaps many.

From a 1969 Dear Abby column. 

“Dear Abby: I wonder if those people who are all for birth control and abortion have ever stopped to consider that every year thousands of childless couples have been able to adopt babies only because they were illegitimate.

Unwed mothers actually serve a very useful purpose in society, don’t they?

Signed Against Birth Control And Abortion

Dear Against: It’s true that because of illegitimacy, many couples have been able to become parents thru adoption.

But to say that “the unwed mother serves a useful purpose in society” is like comparing illegitimacy to a heart transplant. It’s wonderful for the recipient, but serves no useful purpose for the donor.”

I am not sure exactly what Abby meant by the “serves no useful purpose for the donor” but I know her twin, Ann, spoke of mothers (not birthmothers – mothers) giving up their children as a “bitter experience” so my assumption is Abby was trying to convey the same in the example she gave.


Posted by on March 22, 2017 in Adoption, adoptive parents


Tags: , ,

11 responses to “From the 2012 archives: The Things People Say prompt…

  1. shadowtheadoptee

    March 22, 2017 at 11:09 pm

    This is just the first thought that came to my mind, so take it for what it is worth. When I read that unwed mothers serve a ‘useful” purpose, the word “broodmare” jumped out at me. Broodmares for childless couples? It has little to do with your post, or does it? Maybe that is how Dear Abbey’s reader saw unwed mothers, though I’d bet the reader would never admit that? Who knows? Kind of boggles the mind when I read things like that.


    • TAO

      March 23, 2017 at 12:16 am

      Me too Shadow


  2. Heather

    March 23, 2017 at 4:46 am

    I love your example that people would never say those things to a widow or a child who has lost one parent.

    I see comments about how wonderful adoption is all the time in places like Facebook. It’s so dismissive yet rarely do the speakers have a clue what they are doing. I’m quickly losing faith in our ability to learn and grow as human beings.

    The other day I recommended that some posters stop referring to pregnant women as birthmothers and the nicest response I got back was “Well if she’s selling her child what else would she be called?” People are clueless.


    • TAO

      March 23, 2017 at 2:50 pm

      And it seems some are getting more clueless, or perhaps downright ignorant wherever you look.


  3. Lara/Trace

    March 23, 2017 at 1:32 pm

    I was reading something the other day and it jumped out at me that people casually say they will adopt – like its so common. Obviously they don’t read much from us, the adoptee population. Advice from people like Dear Abby strike me as ridiculous since they are not adopted.


  4. beth62

    March 28, 2017 at 1:31 pm

    I’ve noticed something lately. Teen girls, when talking about futures and family… Lately I have heard many say they plan to adopt. Some say in addition to pregnancy, most instead of. But all have said they think it’s the right thing to do, everyone should adopt, a save the planet kind of thing. They talk about it like they do pet adoption. Wondering where this is coming from, it’s different/more than the typical unicorn dreams in fairy land. I think. Not so sure how I should respond to these comments.


    • TAO

      March 28, 2017 at 2:45 pm

      That it’s not like adopting a puppy…or taking home a stray….


      • beth62

        March 29, 2017 at 1:21 pm

        I hope it’s okay to say all that with my hands around their necks. :-/
        Went on a rant about rescue and charity, which ended up with a parental entitlement and sacrifice sermon.
        A couple of them acted like they’d never heard such things. Now they are saying I’m just an awful selfish evil old woman who doesn’t even care if the unicorns are suffering!
        I sort of hope they get the privilege of remaining so innocent and clueless for a little while longer tho.


  5. trumpievans

    April 25, 2017 at 2:55 am

    I am one of those who served a useful purpose.



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