All families built through adoption have had many cringe-worthy moments. Typically, it’s a well-meaning relative, friend, or the lady at the grocery store. It is, however, a bit tricky when the cringe-worthy comment comes from someone else in the adoption community.
I, for one, let my guard down a little when I meet other parents via adoption. It’s like they know or “get it” in away that bio parents typically don’t. That’s why it hits extra hard when someone in the “in” crowd says something that makes me cringe.
The cringe-worthy comments, in my experience, almost always come from people who have built their families through adoption at least 15 years ago. The most cringe-worthy are almost always in reference to birth parents, ongoing contact, and/or biological siblings.
Here’s the kicker in these comments: Adoption, even 15 years ago, was totally different than it is today. In the past, parents were advised not to even tell adoptees that they had been adopted. The goal, as it seems, was to have your family “pass,” as in look biologically related. If you were a part of a transracial family, you must have saved your child from some foreign wasteland filled with uneducated, poor, hopeless mothers who just wanted their child to be raised with a better life by rich white Americans. They believe this makes them a saint because loving, providing for, and parenting a child that is not biologically related to you is what gets people to sainthood. That’s not even mentioning orphan trains, homes for unwed mothers, or the other really awful things that happened to children and women with the intent of what was best.
Adoption is just so, so different today than years ago. Today, openness is celebrated, fought for, and taught about. The best practices of the past just aren’t true anymore. Some parents via adoption stop educating themselves after finalization, which is just like any other parent. I mean, what parent keeps up with the newest baby trends after their kids are in high school? No one.
I choose to respond through the lens that not all parents via adoption are not educated in the same way about adoption. Adoption does mean different things to different families. Parents via adoption are generally just parents working hard to do their best. Who make mistakes. When I am struck by a cringe-worthy comment, I strive to choose to model the behavior I wish to see in the world. If that doesn’t work, I pray for fast wit, sarcasm, and a quick exit.