Yes, This Is A Thing

This celebrates a child leaving foster care because they have been adopted.

To be certain, any sort of celebration of adoption day is only for the adoptive parents… adoption day for adoptees is a loss. It’s a legal severing of an adoptee’s ties to their biological family and biological roots. It is the culmination of trauma, and is the start of new traumas. It also feeds the savior image of foster/adoptive parents, which is terribly insulting to adoptees and isn’t accurate. In the cases where non-kinship adoption is unavoidable, it should be done privately and discretely. The story belongs to the adoptee, only they never had the power to decide or say what they actually wanted – in most cases, an intact family into which they were born.

Children’s brains and emotional intelligence that aren’t fully developed yet. Their nervous system is screaming “yay permanency! Woot woot!” And the only way a kid knows how to celebrate is a party; or a certificate; or gifts; or social media posts; and whatever else they’ve seen other former foster youth or adoptees do.

What they ARE NOT able to process is 1) adoption DOESN’T guarantee a ‘forever home’ at all 2) what’s happening to them is trauma– not a celebration 3) even if they DO end up with a forever home, it may be an eternity of pure unadulterated hell (mentally, emotionally, relationally) 4) the “permanence” also means their actual biological family history and heritage and traditions, etc are now permanently gone and the list goes on and on. They’re unable to look at it from a 30,000 ft view and understand the gravity and finality of it all.

Really the issue comes down to NOT celebrating a child’s adoption publicly and not even within the family if possible.  This doesn’t mean to invalidate whatever feelings and emotions a child may be having – especially about getting out of the uncertainty of foster care and multiple placements.  However, adult adoptees will tell you that as they aged and could reflect from a mature perspective – being adopted is always fraught and traumatic – even in the best of circumstances.

Many adoptees spend much of their life in a “happy fog” trying their best to be grateful for this un-natural thing that happened to them – not in their control nor with their conscious approval – usually by adults and the legal system.  Best to go as minimal and low-key about it all as you possibly can, no more than privately within the immediate family, if celebrated at all.

What Matters A Name ?


A common practice in adoption is to change the name of the child being adopted.  Often this name change is sealed from revealing what name that child was born with in the adoption records.  If you were to ask a young child, who is yours genetically and biologically, growing up in the family that child was born into and you ask them how they would feel about changing their name, their answers might be something like this – yeah, that would be awesome, okay by me.

So when adoptive parents (who adopted older children but then changed the names they were born with) say – “She wanted to change her name.” or “He is excited about changing his name.” – it could be only that  small children don’t know any better.  Adoptees, when they are yet very young, can’t understand the ramifications of such a decision.

That said, more than one of my friends has allowed the child she is raising to make some change to their name, on their own initiative, once they have entered their teenage years.  That is empowering – a decision made by their own self, without suggestion nor coercion.  That is a different circumstance and is made consciously from a state of some maturity.

And in an aspect of today’s modern perspectives,  these same adoptive parents who once rushed to change their adopted children’s names, will criticize natural parents for allowing their kids to pick out new names for gender affirming reasons.  It is a kind of double standard perspective.

One person responding to the question in the first paragraph wrote – “I’m not adopted and haven’t had my name changed. But I had wanted to change my first and last name a lot growing up. I had the same name picked out for like 10 years. As an adult, I’m glad I didn’t get the name change. And I wasn’t even a small child who wanted the name change. It was from the ages of 7 through 17 that I had wanted it.”

Another shared her biological daughter’s perspective saying – “Every time the conversation of names comes up, she is adamant that her name is the perfect name for her and there is no other name in the world she’d ever want. She has asked what other names we considered, which we answered truthfully (because why not), but she is always relieved that her name is hers.”

And one adoptive mother wrote – “Therapists are no help either. My daughter who was five when we adopted asked to change the spelling of her first name. I loved the spelling but wanted to do what was right by her. The therapist told me how healthy it was that she wanted to have control over her life and this was part of her healing. 11 years later she doesn’t remember it was her idea and was mad at me for changing it. I’m so sad that she was thinks I would do that to her. I told her she could change it if she wants.”

In community with adoptees, this is one topic that is sensitive.  The name changes have often been to obscure the fact that the child was adopted and is not the natural offspring of the adoptive parents.  It is like taking possession of a human being.  It can also make finding out one’s true origins that much harder.  Names are a very personal issue with most people, even if they did not choose that name for themselves.