Recently, I’ve seen a series of t-shirts pop up on my Facebook newsfeed concerning adoption. One t-shirt boasts, “I’m an adoptive mom. Just like a normal mom, except much cooler.” Another reads, “Some people never get to meet their hero. I adopted mine.” November is National Adoption Awareness Month and I am really, really proud of what our open adoptions look like. I feel secure that the children who have been placed in our family are thriving with us. I feel certain that we do our very best to keep our relationships very healthy with their birth families, treating them with genuine love and respect. I love adoption, and if anyone wants to talk to me about it, I’m happy to have an honest discussion of what adoption looks like to our family, how blessed we are by our kids, and what amazing people I’ve met because of adoption.
But what I’m never going to do is parade around in one of those t-shirts in front of my children, announcing that they are adopted. I’m also never going to proclaim that I’m cool because I adopted, nor that my child is expected to act like a hero because he was adopted. My child is not my savior; she is my child. I am not cooler because I’m an adoptive mom; I’m simply a mom who rocks a ponytail 99% of the time and who gets to work most days and realizes there’s a smear on my pants right where my child wrapped his arms around my legs and hugged me that morning.
Most people probably look at those t-shirts and think they’re cute at first. I’m asking you to consider the following before you purchase and wear one of those shirts.
“I’m an adoptive mom. Just like a normal mom, except much cooler.”
I imagine a child walking around in a shirt that says, “I’m an adopted kid. Just like a normal kid, only much cooler because I made my mom less sad about being infertile.” Hurts, right? Adoption comes with a world of hurt behind it. It is our responsibility as adoptive parents to remember that the root of adoption is loss. Our children have experienced a great loss without being able to give any input themselves, and they’ll carry that loss with them for the rest of their lives. Our responsibility as adoptive parents is also to fill their lives with hope, love, and understanding. It is not our responsibility or right to tell their stories or to claim that part of their story as our own. It is not our privilege to walk around in a shirt that announces to the world that their life story began with loss, or to claim that we are cool because we love a child who is not our flesh and blood just as much as we’d love a child who was biologically ours. Adoption is not a badge we get to wear as our own.
“Some people never get to meet their hero. I adopted mine.”
This is a savior narrative. Our children should never have to carry the burden on their shoulders for having fixed or saved us in any way. Children are not a cure for infertility, and that’s what this t-shirt insinuates. They are not perfect in any way: They are human, and that’s why we love them. Adoptions should occur because children need homes and not because parents want children (even if that’s why most couples seek adoption at the start). These children who call me “Mommy” are amazing additions to our family. They make me happy every single day and they remind me to be grateful for the privilege I have to raise them, but they are on this earth to fulfill their own personal destiny, not to save me from mine.
Let’s keep being proud of our kids and who they are, flaws and all. Adoption is a piece of their story, but it deserves to be respected. Take the time to educate others about what adoption looks like in your family, but be sensitive. Adoption awareness is important, but it has its place. Don’t wear it like your own personal crown because it is their story, not yours, and it’s something that warrants sensitivity. What are some more positive ways you can celebrate National Adoption Awareness Month?