November is a month saturated with thankfulness. For a few years now, I've seen FB friends posting daily one thing they are thankful for.
To me, it feels a bit inauthentic. Forced. Expected. Demanded.
Which is exactly what some people (some even within the adoption community) expect from adoptees: to be thankful.
This idea comes from the belief that the parents who adopted the child are somehow superior. Majestic. They are superheros and saviors. They live on a pedestal.
(This is dangerous, as I explained in Come Rain or Come Shine---my first book---because we parents who adopted our kids ARE NOT the things many believe us to be. We are parents. Just parents. And the pressure put on us, especially when we are new to parenting, can be detrimental to us in many ways.)
And therefore, if someone is on the mountain (the parent), someone else must be in the valley (the child), and that someone in the valley is the adoptee, he or she should be looking up in admiration, in reverence, in expectation, and in thankfulness.
Now no one has ever told my kids, "You should be thankful you have a family who adopted you." It comes more "fluffy" and directed at us, the parents, such as, "How wonderful that you adopted kids who needed a good home" (to us with our kids present), or more generally, "So many kids need a good home." Or they say, "Your kids are so lucky to have you as their parents." Or we even, as parents get, "God bless you for adopting! That is so inspiring!"
I want to be labeled a "good parent" because, well, I make good parenting choices, not because of how my family was built. And mostly, I don't want my kids to get the message that they should somehow feel indebted to us for adopting them. The truth is, we adopted for a pretty darn selfish reason: we wanted to be parents. Period. That's it.
And you've heard it before, but here you go again. WE ARE THE LUCKY ONES. WE GET THE HONOR OF RAISING OUR CHILDREN. WE ARE THE THANKFUL ONES. THANKFUL THAT THEIR BIRTH PARENTS CHOSE US. THANKFUL THAT OUR KIDS ARE ABLE TO HAVE THE BLESSING OF OPEN ADOPTIONS. THANKFUL THAT WE WERE ABLE TO ADOPT AT ALL.
So how can parents who adopted their kids make sure that the children receive the RIGHT messages about thankfulness?
One thing I believe strongly in is affirmations and repeating things to our children that will stick with them for their entire lives. It can be as simple as telling your child, "I'm so thankful that I get to be your mommy." And, "I'm so thankful your birth parents chose us be your mom and dad." Even, "I love being your mom."
It also includes affirming the things that are special about our children (as I tell my oldest daughter, "You know why you are special?" to which she smiles and says, "Because I was your first baby." To my middle daughter: "Do you know why you are special?" to which she ways, "I was your surprise baby."); this includes things they are good at, their personalities, and the good choices that they make. These remind our children that they are wonderful JUST as they are. Not because they were adopted---but just because they are who they are. (My sweet son says to me all the time, "I love you just the way you are.")
Combating the things that others say (others who don't "get it") is a BIG job. But our kids should know that their entire lives, there will be those who say ridiculous, uninformed, unfair, and rash things. And we parents will always be there to build our kids (back) up when those words hurt, when they speak lies, when they seek to discourage. The constant is LOVE. The constant is THANKFULNESS---thankfulness from a mom and dad who are "tickled pink" to be parenting their kiddos.
Now on to the Adoption Talk Linkup!
Today's topic is Names. Grab a button for your post and join Erin, Jamie, Jenni, Jill, Madeleine, Rachel, and me!
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