I can’t begin to tell you how many times throughout a typical day that I find myself thankful for some small act by another; whatever that act was or who benefited. Whatever good is done makes my heart happy.
Funny thing though – I never use the words grateful or gratitude.
Instead of using grateful or gratitude – I use words such as thankful, appreciative, beautiful. I’ll tell someone they are wonderful or great or thank them for being who they are that makes them so freely offer grace to others. I regularly tell my husband how thankful I am that he came into my life, how much I appreciate who he is. Sometimes I feel like I’m way over the top in offering thanks to others. It’s just my nature because when I see good done, I’m thankful, and in return want to thank the person giving.
I just can’t bring myself to use the words grateful or gratitude.
Being adopted and the expectations and beliefs by others placed on the adopted to be grateful they were adopted have ruined those words for me. Here’s why: When someone says you should be grateful you were adopted, grateful to your parents, stop and think what they are really saying. Would they tell a child born to their parents they should be grateful their parents brought them into this world? Is it okay that someone can tell your adopted child they should be grateful they were adopted by you, but not the same to the child you birthed standing right there?
Because those are the questions you need to ask; even if you don’t have a child you gave birth to.
Would you be okay that your adopted child is schooled by random people on making sure they show proper gratitude to their benefactors for taking them in? That is the message given when you tell an adoptee they should be grateful for being adopted. You are telling them that they owe their parents for being their parents. That they aren’t their real child. That they are less-than a bio child is. That they really don’t belong in their family but were taken in. That they are a charity case some good people took on.
We should all be grateful for the good in our lives. We should not be singled out as ones who should be grateful for the good in our lives because we were adopted. That is not true acceptance of a parent/child relationship, it just isn’t. As for the fear adoptive parents have that they can’t push back on people telling their adopted child they should be grateful, because they want their child to be grateful for the good in their lives?
You’re complicating things that aren’t complicated.
Children grow up being taught how to be good people; how to say please and thank you, taught why it’s important to give up their chair to a senior or anyone who needs to sit, all part of how to be a good person and citizen. Children grow up learning all those things and are reminded when forgotten so it becomes who they are. Children also grow up watching their parents, listening to them and over time they start to model their behavior. In other words, if you show gratitude both verbally and in tangible ways, your child will learn that. If you show the good of supporting causes and get them involved, chances are good they’ll model that as adults. I can’t begin to tell you how many ways I am like my parents in how I live my life, how many ways I also still fail, a work in progress for sure. Yet, I still refuse to allow another person to demean me and school me on being grateful I was adopted and how grateful I must be to mom and dad for adopting me. I’m not, never will be, what I will be is always thankful I had the honor of being their child and being raised by them.
Can you see the difference of being told I should be grateful mom and dad adopted me and just being treated as their child? If you can’t see the difference, leave a question detailing where you’re stuck and I or another commenter will try to explain.
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November 9, 2019 at 8:52 pm
“Grateful” has been way overused in discussing adoption. The details of your explanation truly get your point across. Anyone who wants to be educated about adoption should read this. “Grateful” makes it sound like you are “less than.” Gratefulness implies indebtedness. Putting this burden on an adopted person is not healthy. It is discriminatory. Instead of placing the mandate of gratitude upon the adopted person, maybe the adoptive parents should be grateful for having children to love?
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November 9, 2019 at 9:05 pm
Thank you – never know if my ramblings will make sense to others.
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November 9, 2019 at 9:06 pm
I come across this often and this is how my husband and I deal with it. With people we know we call out why saying so is not okay. With people we don’t know, based on the circumstance, we say our children have nothing to be grateful for being adopted. If any, we are grateful they came into our lives when they did. Our children have now picked up on it and quip that our parents are lucky to have us.
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November 9, 2019 at 9:08 pm
Bravo to all of you.
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November 13, 2019 at 12:11 am
I think a lot of expectation of gratitude is often indirect and people have to watch out that they don’t inadvertently send that message. Many APs will say that they don’t expect their child to be grateful yet they often like articles, memes etc that may make an adoptee feel that gratitude is expected.
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November 17, 2019 at 6:15 pm
This resonates with me. I’m done with being the grateful adopted child. Oddly though, it’s only since this realisation in the last two years that I’ve started feeling and expressing genuine gratitude for all the other things in my life. And that has been nothing less than transformative for me as a person.
November 25, 2019 at 4:54 am
That’s very interesting peds72. Thank you for sharing.