Consolation prize?

26 Apr

Upfront I need to say I’ve never felt this way about my adoption and we all were Plan B, but it sure seems whatever the verbiage used, that many adoptees are merely consolation prizes the adopting parents finally settled for. And I see the risk of adoptees being merely consolation prizes growing, not diminishing.

Maybe I’m feeling this way because it seems every post I read about adopting, begins with the minute details of years of fertility struggles, the vast array of procedures and meds taken, the heartbreaking losses. Another version also includes always having a heart to adopt or some iteration of that thrown in.

Mom mentioned trying from time to time over the years when the conversation turned that way, but it was treated as we tried but we didn’t get pregnant so we adopted. And yes, mom did grieve the loss and I’d imagine dad did as well in his own silent way of grieving, perfectly normal in my mind to want to get pregnant, experience birth and to continue your line and have a couple different versions of you running around. And it is also perfectly normal for that grief to resurface from time to time with a loss that really can’t be seen as something you just get over, it’s too big for that. Maybe it was their enduring strength of will to carry on despite the hard that created an atmosphere of contentment of what was and that Plan B was just fine. Or it could be the lack of endless treatments to keep trying that is offered today that stretches over years that has created this difference I see, and I hope I’m wrong about, but also fear I’m right about. It would also explain why some are willing to cross ethical boundaries in adoption without skipping beat because they’ve been crushed so many times.

I worry about how the adoptees of today will feel, will they be just fine with being Plan C, D, H, or will they feel like a consolation prize when they’ve grown up and look back. Only time will tell and expect it to be a mixed bag at best.





Posted by on April 26, 2019 in Adoption, adoptive parents


Tags: , , , , , ,

30 responses to “Consolation prize?

  1. journeyformybaby

    April 26, 2019 at 3:41 pm

    This is why I didn’t take everyone’s advice to “*just* adopt!” when we were going through fertility treatment. I absolutely did not want my child to grow up feeling like they were second best. Which for the record is NOT how I would have felt about them, but I just know that is exactly what would have ended up happening. I still think about adopting from time to time, even with 4 biological children now. I’ve always imagined I’d adopt someday but I know that the time during fertility treatments was not the right time.


    • TAO

      April 26, 2019 at 3:59 pm

      Thank you for getting the intent of the post.


  2. Dannie

    April 26, 2019 at 4:00 pm

    NOOOOOOOO I had a long long comment and my computer screen spazzed out on me. Second attempt

    I’ll be honest and say i’ve been heavily annoyed this week by a relative’s blog about how all she wanted to be was a mother and her infertility journey and then at the end of the blog had some questions people ask that arent’ helpful and one was about “would you adopt”? then a long spiel about how she isn’t called to adopt and she wants to be a mother badly and feels that maybe they will have a baby miraculously, and that adoption is just not the same

    (disclaimer….I know it’s not the same, there are different issues, and I see that having children both biologically and adopted)

    I don’t take things personally usually, I”m very easy going and content but the way her blog was written got me so huffy because I did feel the undertone was more of “consolation prize” mentality that it just made me mad because my child is definitely not a consolation prize…..getting her ready for a piano recital with her stubborn personality is definitely not fun, but it’s not consolation, it’s pre-pubescent angst and martyrdom on my unbending practice rule 🙂

    I know we are not supposed to discount other’s pain, I guess for me it’s like just knowing if I wanted to be a mom, then i’ll find a way to be a mom and adoption wouldn’t be consolation, just an option to help that come to fruition. Being fruit of my loins is not a pass or automatically sainthood children. I feel like many poeple think adopting kids is dealing with other people’s problems or taking a risk they may behave badly……um sorry people but last i checked, biological spawn are not angels walking on water. No one thinks twice about behavior when wanting to procreate mini me’s from their loins….FACT!

    Well anyways so this post comes at a week where I personally was having an annoyance issue with the undertones of consolation prize…however, thinking about it, if that’s an undertone a family has, it’s best a child does not end up growing up there feeling it so, maybe people should get to know themselves and their hearts before becoming parents in general…

    anyways i rambled too much.


    • TAO

      April 26, 2019 at 4:05 pm

      We’ve been on similar wave-lengths before too. Maybe I was supposed to write this so you’d have a safe space to declutter the stress you were holding? Cheers!


  3. pj

    April 26, 2019 at 5:31 pm

    I never felt we were plan B. Mom briefly mentioned trying to have bio kids, and we were never referred to as “adopted “ children.She said raising us were the best years of her life…

    I too worry about the adoptees of today. So much oversharing….or maybe I’m just old 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • TAO

      April 26, 2019 at 6:27 pm

      Yes, the oversharing is way too much on everything. Said by someone who shares too little…I’m sure there’s a happy medium somewhere.


  4. calcandide

    April 26, 2019 at 6:43 pm

    Oh jeez, now I’m feeling kind of bad about adopting (which I’m pretty sure is not your intent). For the record, I never had any intention of getting pregnant until I met my husband and he wanted bio kids. Growing up I always thought I’d adopt (and not for religious reasons). Now that we are likely adopting a foster baby, I think she’s the best baby in the whole wide world, not to mention the cutest. I’ve wanted more than one kid, but she’s so awesome I’d be happy if she ends up being our only kid. I’m glad I read this, I’m definitely going to have to put some thought into how I talk about infertility. I’m sad I can’t get pregnant (partly because I am often made to feel less than, especially because I can’t breastfeed), but I’m not at all sad I can’t have bio kids.

    I do get super annoyed with people telling me she’s lucky to have me. I’m the lucky one, really.


    • Pj

      April 26, 2019 at 6:56 pm

      Calcandide, the fact that you are here speaks volumes.I believe you’re quite the opposite of “less than”…


    • TAO

      April 26, 2019 at 7:51 pm

      Calcandide – I was trying really hard to distinguish between those who can’t have kids and tried a couple things, thought deeply and worked through the worst of the grief and decided to adopt instead of those who would have willingly sold their soul to the devil kind of mentality (and I don’t mean literally) and FINALLY HAD TO SETTLE for adopting. Make sense?


      • calcandide

        April 26, 2019 at 7:55 pm

        Yes! I definitely understood, it just made me realize I hadn’t been thinking much about the way I talked about infertility, and that other people probably think that I think of adoption as a consolation prize, which I totally don’t!


        • TAO

          April 26, 2019 at 7:58 pm

          Cheers – you’ll do fine with your words I’m sure.


  5. thejazzgirl

    April 26, 2019 at 10:16 pm

    I have never heard anyone “speak” this way.
    Knowing many people who have been adopted, speaking with them candidly for years, this post really bothers me. I cannot deny that it must be true, especially for the person who wrote it, but I know this is not a universal view. I wish all involved to find peace in their heart. Adoption has hit my family in a different way, a different angle, yet still just as devastating. … Then there is the understanding that the birth mother did choose life, she didn’t have to, and a lot of times she was pressured to terminate. Kicked out of the family etc., She has lived with a loss, so if someone thinks “you” were someone’s back up plan remember you were # 1 in your mom’s eyes, trying to give a child a life she couldn’t provide.
    It may not feel that way but it’s usually the truth.


    • thejazzgirl

      April 26, 2019 at 10:28 pm

      Replying to my own post….
      I don’t think I understood your intention and came across a bit defiantly.

      I believe what I said but I did not mean to be confrontational.

      Adoption is a very emotional subject.


  6. Momengineer

    April 26, 2019 at 11:51 pm

    Hello Tao,
    Thank you for confronting this subject. I’m a single adoptive mom. My journey to parenthood was a bit different. Adoption was my plan “A” back in the 1990’s. My first look at the adoption process scared me with how expensive and invasive it would be. I turned to “grow your own” for about a year, then turned back to adoption when pregnancy didn’t just happen. My parents were so relieved!
    At my next look, adoption appeared to be a newborn purchase system that lined the pockets of lawyers and agencies. (It still looks like that)
    Finally, Chinese adoption appeared to be children needing parents. (Oh how naïve.) The agency explained the need for a vetting process and thoroughly outlined all their fees.
    My daughter’s arrival in my life is the best thing to happen to me. Politics and Government are the only reason she lost her first parents.
    Adoption is emotional and complicated. Thanks you for making me think.

    Liked by 1 person

    • TAO

      April 27, 2019 at 3:01 am

      Thank you for reading and yes, it is emotional and complicated.


  7. cb

    April 28, 2019 at 6:14 am

    Although we all knew that our mum and dad had turned to adoption after IF struggles, we were never made to feel like we were second best.

    I like what you said about your own parents:

    “Maybe it was their enduring strength of will to carry on despite the hard that created an atmosphere of contentment of what was and that Plan B was just fine. “

    Liked by 1 person

  8. cb

    April 28, 2019 at 6:20 am

    “I worry about how the adoptees of today will feel, will they be just fine with being Plan C, D, H, or will they feel like a consolation prize when they’ve grown up and look back. Only time will tell and expect it to be a mixed bag at best.”

    I wonder about that too.

    I also wonder about those adoptees whose parents have sort of gone the other way, i.e. “our babies are out there looking for us”, as if we adoptees have just decided to take the more convoluted route to being born in order to get to “our rightful parents”.


    • TAO

      April 28, 2019 at 3:15 pm

      Both “settling” and “delusional thinking” worry me.


  9. Robyn C

    April 29, 2019 at 2:07 am

    Adoption was always my plan A. I’ve met a few people like me through the years – people who simply never wanted to be pregnant, didn’t feel the need to procreate, and chose adoption first.

    I think a lot of people like to play the Pain Olympics. “I’ll see your 3 years of trying to have a baby and raise you 2 more years plus an adoption scam.”


    • TAO

      April 29, 2019 at 3:03 am

      True, very true.


  10. Tiffany

    April 30, 2019 at 6:22 am

    I think a lot of people who struggle with infertility do not heal properly from that grief before moving onto adoption. That can make a child feel like a backup plan or second best. If you go through the effort FIRST to manage your loss (and it’s ok to be sad you can’t get pregnant- as someone mentioned above, women can certainly end up feeling incomplete or less than if they can’t get pregnant, which is awful) then that goes a long way to helping your future child know that they were an intentional and desired choice, not a consolation prize. I think some of it is the rush from “can’t have my own baby” to “I’ll just adopt them.”

    We didn’t struggle with infertility, and we do have our older daughter who was born to us. When I compare how I feel about my daughter who was born to me and my daughter who we met…. there is no possible way I could ever love either of them more. There isn’t a difference for me in love, only in the compassion and care my daughter who is adopted needs to navigate her losses. I am THE luckiest person in the universe to have the privelage of loving her because in a perfect world, I wouldn’t even know her. She’s so absolutely amazing in every possible way… she could never be a consolation prize, and I hope she never thinks we view her in that way.


    • TAO

      April 30, 2019 at 2:24 pm

      Thanks Tiffany – remember you’re always welcome to guest post. I’ve also been thinking of republishing your post if that’s okay with you. Cheers


      • Tiffany

        April 30, 2019 at 5:14 pm

        Tao, I am always concerned about taking space that belongs to adoptee voices, but you are of course welcome to share that post anytime you feel it is appropriate. I so appreciate you and how you share your heart. I learn so much from you.

        I am endlessly busy, but I did write something up last week when we were on vacation and my daughter experienced some adoption related sadness. Let me know if you would like me to send it on to you to see if you find it worth sharing.


        • TAO

          April 30, 2019 at 6:35 pm

          Would love to share your wisdom. Will put you on moderation so you can share in a comment like the last time. Cheers


  11. Tiffany

    April 30, 2019 at 7:24 pm



    • TAO

      April 30, 2019 at 7:47 pm

      That’s beautiful. Thank you.


      • Tiffany

        April 30, 2019 at 8:26 pm

        Thank you, and thank you for sharing. (Just checked the post quick, and it looks like the first sentence got cut off- it’s in the title, but it’s not at the start of the post. Just fyi. 🙂 )


        • TAO

          April 30, 2019 at 8:50 pm

          I’ll fix – thought you meant as a title 🙂



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