23 Jun

Just writing the word Grateful sets my teeth on edge; it’s one of the few words that trigger an emotion that raises my blood pressure which isn’t good. That and the term Lucky, although I don’t have the same visceral reaction to Lucky that I do with the term Grateful, (or any iteration of Grateful).

Upfront – I’m sure there are many adoptees who do not despise the term Grateful or Gratefulness. They are welcome to it, lock, stock and barrel. It’s theirs for the taking and using as they please. And for people who don’t understand my visceral response to the term Grateful, Lucky, or even Saved, it’s hard to explain, but below I’m giving it a go.

Every adoption starts with loss for the one adopted. We lost our mother, many of us at birth, which means we lost not just our mother but every single member of the family we were born into, including our ancestors. We were adopted into a family, some got good folks to call their own like I did, others didn’t fare as well, to put it nicely. The one thing we all had in common, we weren’t born into that family, we were adopted into it. That made us different, a curiosity if you will, and cue the other people in our world seeing us as Other. Other in a way where they felt the need to school us, and also make us feel less than, plus making damn sure we knew we didn’t deserve the family that took us in so we must, or better be Grateful. ‘Aren’t you Lucky’ is just the jumping off point of what other people say, or have said in our presence, Lucky, Saved, Blessed, to name a few. As an adult, I could have responded pushing back, explaining the magnitude of loss that goes hand in hand with loosing your entire family at birth, and then, being expected to be grateful for it, or lucky that it happened, and how thankful I must be to be to not be raised in the family I was born into, despite your family by birth being middle class folks just like your adopted folks. As a child, you can’t push back on your elders, you just have to take it and make the best of it, every. single. time. it. happens. and it happens more often than you’d expect, it still happens now where I’m approaching my senior years. The need from others for the one adopted to sing the praises of being adopted is ever present, ever there. It shouldn’t be, but is, and always will be, simply because we are adopted, other.

People who read my blog from time to time may remember me talking about my grandpa referring to us in a letter to his cousin as Mom and Dad’s borrowed children, how I hoped mom and dad didn’t know he’d said that. Now that I’ve sat with the borrowed children phrase for a while, I’ve come to realize I like the term borrowed rather than adopted but I can’t explain it well yet, but today I brought it up because it also lifts that curse of being treated as an adopted person who should be damn well grateful someone saved them and you owe them rhetoric that is pervasive, not just within the adoption community but in society as well.

So the term Borrowed Children that Grampa used all those years ago works for me…it also doesn’t sever my link to my original family…

One of my friends who visits this blog did a post titled “Luck, Gratitude, and Adoption” go read it, it’s really good.

Be Safe. Be Kind.


Posted by on June 23, 2022 in Adoption, adoptive parents


Tags: , , , , ,

9 responses to “Grateful

  1. Laksh

    June 24, 2022 at 4:41 am

    I use the term borrowed with my children to tell them that for a period of time, I get to parent them.

    Liked by 2 people

    • TAO

      June 24, 2022 at 12:24 pm

      Thanks Laksh.


  2. beth62

    June 25, 2022 at 1:41 pm

    I doubt I will ever forget “borrowed children”. I appreciated it right away when you shared its’ story. It stung a little at first, but sometimes a truth stings. It didn’t cancel out or hide half of the story.
    Another out of the ordinary stinger, another non-legal sounding one, I found to appreciate was on an old census record, long before legal adoption, “As Of Family”. I’m not sure it gets much truer in all directions than that. Both seem more warm to me than “Adoption, Adopted”, which most often leaves me feeling hard, legal, clinical, numb, cold, even frozen.


    • TAO

      June 25, 2022 at 1:44 pm

      You get it, thank you Beth. Borrowed children grew on me.


  3. beth62

    June 25, 2022 at 2:23 pm

    I liked the list of the evil “shoulds” in the blog you posted, and the entire post lol.
    I’ve all of run into all of them, frequently. I’ve continually found new ways to think on these ideas, and ways to respond. (my responses lately)

    “Adoptees are told they should:

    -be happy they weren’t aborted,
    (you should also be happy you weren’t aborted, our chances were equal, either of our mothers could have chosen abortion, legal or not.)

    -appreciate that they received a “better” family and/or a “better life
    (How the hell do you know what my childhood was like, or what it would have been like? Maybe your childhood would have been better if you’d been adopted… and maybe not. Different is the only conclusion that can be made with the unknown.)

    -quit whining about being adopted,
    (You should quit whining about what I do, whine about your own stuff, not me. You don’t control other people and neither do I)

    -relinquish any interest in and/or connection with their birth parents and first families, etc.”
    (This is where I loose it. And I always will. I am my own person, no one owns me. I intend to speak up on it every chance I get. I tend to respond, FU, or Oh hell no. Who the hell do you think you are to say something that hateful to me? I could go on cussing and blowing up things and punching people in the nose… and not feel one bit of remorse. Absolutely none. In my world, you’d deserve every bit of it)

    I’ve heard and read all these things lately, it’s gotten more frequent in the current climate and conversations. It’s very discouraging and infuriating to me that so many obviously believe what they are saying, and think nothing of seperating mother and newborn. To my extreme churchy thinkers I can only seriously ask, WWJD? If you’ve read and understood his story, how could you say and do such things to another child of God, a brother or sister of Jesus?
    Mostly what I still get at Sunday school is stink faces 🙂 I’ve been preaching that sermon for at least 2 decades, I’ve seen many see the light though, many of them help spread the word.


    • TAO

      June 25, 2022 at 2:53 pm

      Gayle is a much better writer than I am, she is also one of the most compassionate souls I’ve met recently.

      Much like you Beth.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Pj

    June 26, 2022 at 2:25 am

    Tao, I apologize if this is not appropriate here but I’m very passionate about adoption not being promoted as “the answer”. Part of my letter to editor after local political party promoted adoption as the “humane compromise” for a woman(child) pregnant as a result of rape(incest).

    Fetuses cannot be adopted. Adoption is an option only once there is a living child. If a person carries a pregnancy to term, even if this decision was not freely chosen, the decision is to :1)parent the child, or,2) relinquish the child for adoption.

    “Many birth mothers who suffer the life-long trauma of relinquishment,as well as adoptees, should not be used as political pawns.
    And please stop telling adoptees they should be grateful they weren’t aborted. This “pro-life” gaslighting only serves to promote a false equivalence.”

    Liked by 1 person

    • TAO

      June 26, 2022 at 1:49 pm

      You go girl. also feel free to link your letter if you’d like.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. beth62

    June 26, 2022 at 1:24 pm

    Thank you Pj. The promotion of the “answer” has gotten pretty extreme. I do know well, that many who are promoting it do not know much if anything about the whole picture. For instance, many do think you can place your fetus for adoption.

    Liked by 1 person


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