"They're so lucky"
How do you respond?
Navigating the conversation around adoption…
How many times have we heard this phraseology?
“She’s so lucky to have you.”
“They’re lucky little girls.”
“He’s the luckiest child in the world to have you as a parent.”
So, then why does the word make us parents via adoption cringe? It makes our insides twist into knots as we utter the trite, “No, I’m the lucky one.”
This exchange ends abruptly with us feeling icky instead of the well intentioned good that the “complimenter” was trying to elicit.
The explanation is multidimensional, so please bear with me.
There are countless ways to create a family, but let’s use private domestic adoption as an example. For whatever the circumstances, an expectant mother makes an adoption plan because she believes it’s the best choice she can make for her child at that time. She makes a deliberate decision to have her child parented by another, not knowing if, or when, she will ever see her child again.
This is the reality that is adoption. This is the truth we as parents, or prospective parents via adoption, must honor.
We must understand that our precious children have experienced a traumatic loss. We must understand that these little humans will have to brave the comprehension of how the family they know and love came to be. We must understand that this realization will hurt beyond measure.
It has been said that adoption is the only trauma in the world where society expects the victims to be grateful and appreciative. To feel “lucky.”
Think about that for a moment.
Now, I’ll admit that it’s very difficult for me to see my children as victims, because the word usually carries a connotation that there was maleficence involved. However, it can also mean sufferer. And admittedly, our children absolutely suffer.
Children of adoption can love their family deeply and morn the loss of their biological family at the same time. These two emotions can and will co-exist.
So, what can we do as parents through adoption?
We can first and foremost be open about adoption with our children, and honest - always!
We can learn as much as we can. The conversation around adoption is constantly evolving and so continuing our education is going to be key to our progress.
We can share this newfound knowledge with our community and begin correcting the one-dimensional, romanticized view of adoption that society holds.
And lastly, if you’re just now embarking on your adoption journey, you can absolutely ensure that you are holding yourself, and all the professionals you work with, to the highest ethical standards.
If we continue to harness compassion and advocate for all members of the triad through education and healing, we can guarantee we will be doing right by our children.
Adoption cannot be solely about growing a family. It must also embrace the loss of family. We know that where there is love, sorrow also exists. There’s never just one perspective. And adoption is no different.