I would like to continue the (one-sided) conversation about adoption I started a couple of weeks ago here. As I stated in that post, I attended a workshop for parents who had adopted transracially. Among other things, we discussed some of the reactions and comments we get from people when we are out with our kids. It was so nice to talk with the other parents there that evening. We all agreed that we need to help educate the public about adoption and help people develop a healthy attitude towards adoptive families. I hope you don’t mind me using this blog to do just that. This post relates to a comment I hear quite frequently.
“YOU ARE SUCH A GOOD PERSON FOR ADOPTING THOSE KIDS.”
This is the comment I seem to hear most often, and the one I like the least. However, I have never been able to explain why I dislike it so much. I honestly don't think this comment is meant to be offensive, but it definitely bothers me. When we discussed it at the workshop, other people had very clear reasons why it bothered them. One person even suggested that it was a racist statement, because it is basically saying that only saints would choose to raise a child of a different race. Another person pointed out that you don’t usually hear people commenting to biological parents that they are saints for raising their children.
But I think it bothers me mostly because of the effect it may have on my kids to hear a statement like that. It may cause them to ask, “What’s wrong with me that my parents are seen as saints to have me for their child?” They are too young to make this connection now, but in a few years I think comments like this will cause them to wonder why people would say something like that about their parents.
The “you must be a saint” mentality can affect a parent’s feelings as well. As I said, I don’t think people use this comment to be hurtful. In fact, I am certain that I have said something very similar to my sister-in-law when she was busy with three new babies. I recall saying something like “I could never do what you are doing.” At the time I didn’t realize how that could make her feel. She was just a mom taking care of her kids, and my comment probably made her feel like she was unusual - different from the rest of the world. I realize now that, of course, I would be able to do what she did. What she did was love and care for her children, and there’s nothing unusual about that.
My husband and I have the same response to people who think we are such good people for adopting our kids. We tell them that we simply wanted a bigger family and, thankfully, we found a means to that end. I have even used the word selfish to describe our desire to grow our family. Picture this… at the time we first started looking into adoption, we had been unable to conceive for three years. We loved being parents so much that we knew we were meant to have more children, and Miss M really wanted a baby brother or sister. We called Catholic Services for Children and Youth, and asked them to sign us up in the program that had the shortest wait time and the youngest babies. Saints? I don’t think so.
(Note to my dear sister-in-law: I hope it's not too late for an apology!☺)