Advice from an adoptee – If/when your adopted child says anything that you deem “negative” about their adoption, instead of just throwing around frequently used adoption phrases – please please please consider the long term affect of hearing some of these phrases
1. “Would you have rather stayed in the orphanage/on the streets, been aborted, would you rather have died?”
Yes, sometimes. Adoption is complex and complicated. Sometimes I wish I wasn’t here instead of enduring nights of sadness, depression, suicidal ideation, intrusive questions, all the unknowns, the mental health problems .. I will never stop being an adoptee. It affects EVERYTHING in my life
2. “God/We saved you from your biological family.”
Let us decide that. What was I saved from? I do not know. There are many things adoption has NOT protected me from. So please let me decide in what ways I was saved. It may shift and change. Also, please don’t say negative things about our biological families. Give us the FACTS that you know and allow us to decide where to place them in our hearts and lives. Y’all don’t get to decide if our biological families are good or bad. Many things I was told about my biological family ended up being racist, unkind, untrue, and problematic.
3. “You were chosen”
Maybe. Kinda. But often, not exactly. My adoptive parents chose me between 2 babies. I was laying beside another baby and they chose me. But if they had decided “no, she’s not for us” they would have found another baby – easily. Adoptees often feel like replacements. We know a lot of our parents wanted A BABY – not necessarily “us” specifically. We have to process that – please allow us the space and time to do so
4. “They loved you so much they decided to give you up.”
No. What about desperation? Survival? Poverty? Lack of resources? Addiction? Death? Would you give up your child because you loved them? I was not given up out of love but I was raised to believe so. It made me feel awful about myself and my biological sister (she was not “given up”). Does loving someone mean sending them away forever? Would my adoptive parents do the same because they loved me?
5. “Be grateful for what you have. Be grateful you are not dead/alone/orphaned/poor/etc. You are so lucky to have a loving, stable family.”
STOP telling us how to feel and what aspects of our lives to feel good about. Especially in response to something we have said, please don’t.
Please Imagine losing your mom at a young age and when you tell someone, they say “Wow but you should be so grateful that you still have…” or “You are so lucky that you have a family that loves you!”
How about “I am sorry for your losses and pain. How can I help without overstepping?”
There are days I would rather be dead than adopted. Days when I miss my biological family. Days that I want to return to a place I barely remember. Those are not the times to dismiss an adoptee’s feelings. Imagine how you’d feel hearing these responses.