Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Dear Sugar: When You're Called a Savior for Adopting Your Children

Dear Sugar:

If you've been a parent-by-adoption for any length of time, it's happened to you.   

You're mothering your children:  maybe selecting apples together at the grocery store, pushing your daughter on the swing at the park, or volunteering in your son's classroom.  When someone decides to proclaim you as superhero-savior for adopting. 

"Your child is so lucky!"

"There are so many children who need a good home!"

"God bless you!"

The assumption is that children who were adopted most certainly were rescued from birth parents who were young, promiscuous, poverty-stricken, drug abusers who lived in dirty, dangerous environments not fit for a child.  But thankfully, we, the parents-by-adoption, swooped in, our arms and hearts and pocketbooks open.   We who can afford beach vacations and leather furniture and sparkly Martha-Stewart Christmas trees.   We who are educated, level-headed, "fit" to parent.  We who can offer a child grandparents and homemade Valentine cards and lots and lots of love (because, after all, love conquers all).   

So much assuming and stereotyping.     

Now I'm not interested in handing out my children's stories to random strangers.  I am also not making it my life's mission to be an adoption educator while trying to help my little one calm down during an epic tantrum (which is ALWAYS seemingly the "right time" for a stranger to ask about adoption or proclaim me as some sort of super mom).   

But what I am interested in is shutting down a conversation that is quickly spiraling out of control WHILE my child is standing right beside me listening.   

When someone decides to "compliment" me as my children's savior, I always meet them with very simple, direct responses that do not invite further conversation into our private lives.   

The quickest way to address the misguided "blessing" from a stranger is to say: 

"I am the lucky one."  

"I am honored to have been chosen to parent my child."

"My children have two families who love them very much:  one by birth and one by adoption."

Because my goal (and yours) is to protect and love our children, not satisfy the curiosity of a stranger or accept a "compliment" that puts us above our children in terms of worth or value.   Our children shouldn't be forced to feel grateful for being adopted, for being moved from one family to another. They also shouldn't have to choose between their birth family and our family: because they can co-exist.   There's room for us all.  

How do you respond when someone calls you a savior or superhero?   Let's talk on Facebook!   

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