Adoption and Options and Questions

A few months ago, I was chatting with someone about being adopted. The conversation was like many I have – the person didn’t know I was adopted, so they asked all the normal questions that ultimately reveal the major parts of the story. After listening, they smiled and said, “Well, aren’t you glad you were adopted?” I’m sure I said my normal answer, which is something along the lines of yes, and I’m happy I’m reunited as well (see prior post by similar name). But I can’t get the question out of my head, and I finally figured out the reason. 

Most people expect adoptees to be grateful/happy/thankful that they are adopted. Thus, they also expect adoptees to see adoption as the best/first/only choice for their lives. I think that’s one reason so many adoptions have been closed – no need to explore that other option of having your natural family because it wasn’t the best/first/only option. It was the alternative, and not even a good one. 

Yet, on the adoptive parent side of the situation, it’s a different story. Many people who adopt do so as the alternative/addition to having natural children. For some, basic biology keeps some from having natural children (e.g. infertility, same sex partners). For others, they have natural children and decide to adopt as well. I’ve heard countless adoptive parents make statements like, “We couldn’t have children of our own, so we adopted” or “We already had kids, and we decided to adopt as well.” 

Don’t get me wrong, I have no problem with adoptive parents; I have two and I love them. 

But would anyone ever say to an adoptive parent – “You’ve got this amazing adopted child, aren’t you thankful you couldn’t have natural children?” or “Now that you have your adopted kids, don’t you just wish you could get rid of your natural ones?” I think we would all be appalled (and rightly so) if we ever heard anyone ask those questions of adoptive parents, but adoptees are just supposed to be cool with a question that has very similar meaning. 

I don’t point this out to chastise anyone who has ever asked the question. I write about it because it highlights the complicated issues raised by adoption and the disjointed messages that are often presented. Adoption isn’t nearly as easy/clean/uncomplicated as we like to present, and it’s good to know that because it may help make futures adoptions easier/better/less stressful for everyone involved. Because, in the end, we are a society that still needs the process, so the goal should be to make it better. 

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9 comments on “Adoption and Options and Questions

  1. Joseph Michaels says:

    I am honored to be the adoptive mom to two wonderful daughters.I agree with your insight on the many complications of adoptive issues and mixed messages. Perhaps that is why I had a difficult time with your use of the word “natural” to describe children. Your message would be more accurate if you used the term biological in place of “natural”. I think it is up to us adoptive parents to educate and thus help sensitize others to the different ways families are formed today.I hope that with discussions and setting the right example we can make the lives of adopted people better. Sincerely, My Girls Mom

    • Becky says:

      I appreciate your observation on the use of the term “natural.” I have struggled with the right term to use for a long time. I don’t use “biological” because, in the past, that term has been used to relegate the status of my (original/biological/natural) parents to that of an egg and sperm donor. When I met them and saw how much their genetics shaped me and how they hoped to be a larger presence in my life, that term seemed inappropriate at that point. I picked “natural” as the term I would use because of its dictionary definition – “existing in or caused by nature.” I figured it’s tough to argue that there are children whose existence in a family is by nature, whereas others are by adoption.

      Regardless, I don’t believe the use of either term makes the message less accurate, as you have suggested. It may make it harder to read/understand/agree, but I believe the accuracy of the point remains regardless of the term used. We would not ask every parent who wanted to have biological children to, in retrospect, be glad they couldn’t because they adopted. Consequently, we should not expect all adoptees to be glad they were separated from their biological parents.

      • Lynn Fury-Prather says:

        As an adoptee, and the mother of a child conceived through a sperm donor, I appreciate the use of the word “natural”. I consider myself my son’s natural parent and the donor is a biological parent. I agree with the interpretation of the questions asked of an adopted child. All situations are different for all children, whether adopted or natural. I am glad I was loved and nurtured by my parents. My brother, who is their natural child, would say the same thing. We are not different , we only arrived differently. I did not get to know the woman who had me but I respect the fact that she made a decision that was right for both of us. Asking someone if they were glad they were adopted is ridiculous. That puts the adopted child in the position of the decision maker. No one chooses to be born, or adopted, and the reactions to either scenario we were dealt depends on the personal situations.

      • Becky says:

        Thanks, Lynn. And I deleted the comment you didn’t mean to post. 😉

  2. Suzanne Gelinskey says:

    Good article. I’m bookmarking your blog for future reading!

  3. Jeanette says:

    So glad I found your blog! I am the mom of 3 girls who were adopted at birth and I am trying to do anything to understand their world, their pain and show them our deep love as parents. As I was reading your question – “You’ve got this amazing adopted child, aren’t you thankful you couldn’t have natural children?” I actually thought to myself that over the years my biggest pain/sadness as their mom is that I did not get to have them in my belly and that they were not my “natural” children. I actually am thankful I could not have “natural” children because I would not have them. God’s plan is better than mine. If I could – I would want them in my belly to heal my loss of not giving birth to them and help heal the pain of loss and abandonment I see and feel in them. But that never could be so I rejoice in God’s mysterious ways of bringing us together and try every day to embrace the beauty and the pain. I so wish I could fix and take away my girl’s pain just like any mother and I am finding that the best I can do is love, try to understand and walk alongside them in it. I call our lives the rose with thorns….so much deep beauty alongside the pain. Thanks so much for your honest blog! It helps moms like me:)

    • Becky says:

      Thank you for sharing your experience, Jeanette. As your girls get older, I am sure they will thank you for trying to understand their thoughts, feelings, etc., and, until they can, I will thank you for your openness. Blessings on you and your girls as you traverse the path of learning what it means to adopt and to be adopted.

      • Jeanette says:

        Thanks Becky! also thought I would share an awesome adoption parenting resource. I went to a parenting workshop on helping kids with loss and trauma and Heather Forbes does such an awesome job on helping parents unconditionally love our children through their pain. She has some great books and as an adoptive mom has helped me tremendously to be there for my kids. Passing on to any of your readers – http://www.beyondconsequences.com.

  4. Kristina says:

    I really enjoy when people ask me that question because then I can say “No, it sucks, what are you, an idiot? Are you thankful you lost your mom? What kind of person would ask me something like that?” And hopefully, it will teach them NEVER to ask such things again.

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