Sarcasm and Adoption are like Oil and Vinegar

October is National Sarcasm Awareness Month.

Rebecca Tillou October 01, 2015
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October is National Sarcasm Awareness Month? WHO KNEW? (NO sarcasm in this question, I really had NO IDEA.)

I went to bed last night thinking about sarcastic comments I have heard in my lifetime regarding adoption. I remember back to my Good Ol’ College Days when I was having a conversation with my roommate’s boyfriend. I don’t recall what the conversation entailed, except the words “I would beat them like a red-headed step child.”

I remember looking at him, and squinting my eyes, which is a habit I have when I am trying to figure out what was just said. I had the inner turmoil going through my head of whether to say something or not. Finally I took a breath and told him I was offended. He looked bewildered and asked me why.

So I guess the lesson learned here is a simple suggestion about using sarcasm to address adoption: Know your audience, then proceed with caution.


Here it is folks: I take that saying personally. No, I am not a stepchild, but the connotation is no different than saying, “I would beat you like a child who is adopted.”  A stepchild is not blood, just like a child who is adopted is not blood to their family. I explained this to my roommate’s boyfriend, through tears of anger and hurt. He did not apologize, and told me adoption had nothing to do with the quote. We ended the conversation and moved forward. We agreed to disagree.

This morning when I arrived at work, I decided to Google Sarcasm and Adoption. I found this blog post written by an adoptee/adoptive mother in 2012.

The author describes how she came across a popular meme portraying two babies, one laughing, one crying. The caption reads: “Dude–I’m JOKING. You are not adopted!!!” A little taken aback, the author wondered what other “jokes” might be circulating on the internet about adoption. She googled “you’re adopted” images, and she came up with a few more doozies, including a t-shirt that reads “You’re adopted! Your parents don’t even love you!” and several in which the captions are simply, “You’re adopted! Hahahahaha!”

The author is clearly hurt and offended by these messages, but throughout the article, she very sarcastically discusses the “virtues” of each image, describing how “hilarious” they are. To me (and to most of her readers) the message was clear: Adoption is not a joke. Being adopted is not funny–or something to be ashamed of. These images are hurtful. They’re not okay.

Unfortunately, with adoption being such a close-to-the-heart topic, a few readers did not pick up on the humor. They thought she was being serious. One remarked in earnest that she hoped the author’s family wouldn’t wear those t-shirts in public. Others said their feelings were hurt.

So I guess the lesson learned here is a simple suggestion about using sarcasm to address adoption: Know your audience, and then proceed with caution. Sarcasm and adoption may not like being spotlighted together.

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Rebecca Tillou

Rebecca was adopted as an infant. She found her birth family in May of 2013 and continues to keep in touch with them. Sadly, her birth mother passed away in 1999. She and her husband live in New York and are the parents of two beautiful little boys, Dominic and Nicolas. They also have a German Shepherd mix named Chester. She was recently diagnosed with FASD at 34 years of age. She is currently working with and to get the word out that there is hope, and that you are never too old to better yourself.

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