Thursday, March 23, 2006


Had a chat with one of my friends. She's one of my closest friends. Love her to death.
However. She said something this morning that really disturbed me, and I need to go back and talk to her about it. I know I do. But I just had to write it all out here ... :)
The comment? "Those kids are just so grateful to [thier adoptive parents] that they are just the best behaved kids ever." Then later on in the conversation made the same comment using different words. There were a few more sentences (and a little more extreme, like a comparison to puppies) to her thought, but that was the gist.
Kids are grateful for being adopted. Ok.
Kids are good because they are grateful. Hmmm. Shaky ground here.
Kids are grateful for any family structure at all so they will be good so they won't have their adoptive parents abandon them? Um, huh?
What about the other side of the discussion?
Parents are grateful for children. No matter how those children come to them.
I went shopping over the weekend to buy some clothes for our trip ... no, we don't have a referral, but I wanted to make sure I was good to go with a few key pieces. When the sales girl asked me the purpose of our trip (I usually don't advertise why, but was feeling chummy with her), she said, "You're doing such a good thing! I wish I could give a child like that a loving home. Those children are always so grateful for parents!" My response? "Actually, I think its kind of selfish on our part. We want to be parents and are choosing to build our family this way. The child really doesn't have a choice."
Gratitude. Yes its there. As an adoptee, I know it is. But, people need to get off their proverbial high horses and think that they're going to heaven because you're "saving" an "unfortunate" child. These are children.
I get so upset (to the point of tears), when people say things like this. Ok, sure you see the children as lucky. But what about the parents.
My parents never made me feel like I was the lucky one ... and therefore making me feel like I owed something to them ... they always (and STILL) say that they were the lucky ones to have received the gift of me.
Powerful stuff.
Same words, different order, but it makes all the difference to an adoptee. Like I've mentioned before, it makes a huge difference. I was a child. End of statement. I was never the "lucky" kid they adopted. I was a kid. Alot of a child's self esteem is tied to their identity -- ok, most of their identity is tied to their self-esteem. Children need to be cherished. Need to be children. Not told they were lucky. Not told they were "saved".
As a result of the way my parents treated me, I wore the badge of adoption with puffed up pride. I was so fortunate to have that. There are so many children (by birth and by adoption) that are not cherished, that are not valued. Their parents tell them that they are lucky for what they have. That may be true, but the parents are wrong.
So next time I talk to my friend, I'm going to be armed with a good conversation about this. I know she will take it to heart, and change the way she sees adoption in general. She's good that way.
The sales girl, well, she didn't say another thing the rest of the transaction (I was in the store for a couple of hours, and this was at the end of that visit). I know that with that brief phrase, she was embarrassed, but I also saw the wheels turning in her head. She was thinking about what I said, and in my opinion, thats a good thing.
I'm not out to "educate" but take the appropriate opportunity when I need to.


Margaret said...

Great post, Bethee.

This is a hard thing to help people understand. I've gotten the comments like "you're so brave" and "I it's so great you're doing that." It's hard to explain to someone why that's off-base and nearly offensive.

You did a great job of explaining it here. I might arm myself with some of your words for the future.

Tricia said...

wow, you've captured some thoughts that i've had... especially the comment about the selfishness i sometimes feel about our adoption. we are choosing to have our family this way, but the children we will adopt do not have a choice. i wish they could choose us, to be honest with you. that's one reason why we are considering adoption of children who are a little bit older... i know they will still be kids, but they will know what's happening and be able to express whether they want us as parents or not. (at least i'm hoping) i'm so afraid that our children will resent us for taking them away from their homeland. i can only hope that the love and home we can provide for them will be good enough. i'm rambling, sorry.

Starfish said...

How stupid are people, really. And these are the people who are allowed to have their own biological children...someone needs to explain that to me. I haven't told too many people about the adoption thing yet because I am a very *ahem* fiesty person, and I know I will react badly when someone says something stupid (as if you're taking a puppy home from the pound). Adopted children are really not much different. They seem different now because of all the emotion (and paperwork) it took to get them. After that, they are pretty much like every other kid. I don't feel selfish though...I really do feel as if this child is out there waiting for us. A biological child doesn't have any choice either if you think about it. Sorry about the long post, but this issue touches a nerve!!

Tricia said...

hi bethee, here's my email

have a good weekend!

Anna said...

Beautifully said, Bethee.