This post is going to focus on the opposite of what people have asked adoptees like myself who are vocal, that really ignorant question that means; “what did your parents do wrong so we won’t make those same mistakes your parents did”. How’s that for a slap in the face to your parents and to you all at the same time…
Hopefully, this post will make some people pause before they ask adoptees questions like that in the future; and show that how an adoptee feels about the many different aspects of adoption, really, can have little to do with what their parents did wrong, that maybe it’s what they did right. I hope that it makes you stop and think that perhaps you should just listen to what they are saying, instead of assuming they just had a bad experience, or parents.
Just like every parent out there my parents had good points, some bad as well I’m sure, but for mine, the good far outweighed any potential bad. Areas dad may not have understood, mom did, the reverse also true, they didn’t have the adoption knowledge you have access to today, they just had their instincts to guide them in that area.
Following are some of the lessons/values mom and dad taught us and isn’t that what parenting is all about? I think a lot of parents today, would have a hard time matching what mom and dad taught us, often, without saying a word.
They taught us to respect everyone or at least try be polite. To understand that it didn’t matter how much a person had, what type of education they’d received, how they spoke, or any unintentional mistakes with words they made. That everyone was deserving of the same rights; dignity, care and compassion whether they lived on the streets or in mansions. They also taught us there was always room at the table for anyone who needed to be there, wanted to be there.
They taught us how to live a good life; whatever that life looked like, wherever that life was. They taught us respect for the planet; to care for the environment, why it was important to recycle, reuse, return. They taught us how to garden and care for your property through hard work and that a commitment to continuous care was all that it required.
They taught us to live simply; that we didn’t need all the newest bells and whistles to have a good life.
They taught us to remember to be kind, even when it was hard. That if we failed we needed to try again, no matter how hard it was, or how many tries it required to get it right. They taught us the value of practice, that repetition and study was the only way to get better at something we wanted to do well, whatever that may be.
They taught us to be mindful. To care for animals and why it was important to take care of those animals who needed our help, whatever that help may be. They also taught us responsibility to other people around us and especially for our own actions in that respect. To remember to give freely, whether monetary or with our time and not be boastful about it, that whatever we offered, no one needed to know we had done it.
They taught us how to accept whatever life threw our way and to pick ourselves up and continue on with grace. They taught us to live our lives with dignity.
They taught us the value of not just accepting what others said as fact; to research, think deeply and critically, to accept what was good in something and work to fix the bad. They taught us to speak up when something was wrong instead of being complicit by being silent.
They taught us what family was both in good times, and especially, in bad times. They taught us that being family meant you didn’t kick other family members to the curb when the going got rough. That family could disagree and they’d still be family. That you stand by your family, you lend a hand when needed and that’s how being a family works. Family is family – no qualifiers, no removals, just family…
I don’t know that any of these lessons/values were the ones they deliberately set out to teach us, but these were the values they taught us by how they lived their lives every single day. Now, I can’t say I have reached anywhere close to the level they achieved in any of the above values, some I think I’m naturally more inclined to mirror, others are a struggle I’m still working on, I still fail, and yet, I’m getting better at all of them, every single day.