by Luanne (adoptive mother and adoptive sister)
After learning how it is in some other families, I feel compelled to mention a subject I hadn’t really thought about in the past: gratitude in adoption.
I find the whole subject kind of flabbergasting. Even as I say that, I’m not holding up my family as a perfect family. We’re far from that. Hahahaha.
But when I was growing up, learning how some adoptive parents view this subject would have blown my mind. And now, having raised two kids who were adopted, it blows my mind. In fact, to use an expression my British friends use, I’m gobsmacked.
As I’ve written in the past, my brother was adopted 50 years ago, so the household I grew up in had its own way of experiencing the adoption issue. My parents were on the vanguard of telling an adoptee–my brother, in this case– from the beginning that he was adopted. There was no secrecy, no trying to “pass him off” as a biological member of the family.
And, like my kids after him, my parents never told my brother he should be grateful that he was adopted.
Here’s a video that begins to explain:
Some of you are probably applauding the specialist on the video.
If you skipped the video and are just wondering why I think gratitude and adoption don’t mix, let me explain that I think it’s great to teach children to be grateful and to foster gratitude whenever it makes sense.
But what is important to remember is that an adoptee should NEVER (and I mean NEVER EVER EVER) be expected to be grateful for having been adopted. Why should a child be grateful for being ripped out of their birth family, which includes cultural and genetic history, just so you, the adoptive parent, can adopt him and “save” him? And just because you happen to be one of the privileged minority of humans in the world and can give them the sort of life that having more resources can provide?
If the idea of telling an adoptee to be grateful pops up in your head, I am begging you to uproot it! A child should never be expected to be grateful for feelings of abandonment and loss and discontinuity. She ought to feel free to be glad, relieved, and even grateful that you are her adoptive parent and not someone else . . . if that is what she feels inside. She should never be required or demanded to have certain feelings.
If you haven’t yet adopted and don’t understand what I’m talking about, please reconsider the idea of adopting. Honestly, there are enough other challenges in adoptive families and, indeed, all families without causing more dysfunction.