My Kids Aren’t My ‘Adopted’ Kids (+ Response)

Screen Shot 2014-02-11 at 12.04.49 AMThis article was posted by Ann Brenoff on February 10, 2014 on the HuffPost Parents Blog. I agree with the author’s point that “adopted daughter” isn’t always necessary when depicting the Woody Allen/Dylan Farrow  scandal because it does imply a sort of “well, they’re not biologically related, so it’s not quite as bad” mentality, but there are a couple of points she makes where I strongly disagree.

The author mentions a specific instance where, in her mind, they “stopped being an adoptive family and just became a family.” I love that she started to keep her daughters’ stories private and stopped wanting to be a walking display case for adoption, but this statement is unsettling. As much as I love my parents, they came to me through adoption, and we came to be a family through adoption. The word “adoptive” doesn’t have to be physically expressed every single time I refer to them, but “adoptive” along with a list of other adjectives will always describe our family. I think it would be wrong, deceitful, and unhealthy to think of ourselves as just a family, not an “adoptive” family. While I understand the point she is trying to make, I wonder how her kids will come to her with questions and problems related to adoption if they are supposed to be just her kids, not adopted kids and if their family is just a family, not an adoptive one. That is a huge piece of their identity as individuals and their identity as a family unit to simply ignore.

The other place I find troublesome is the concluding statement:

“Yes, there are certain issues that are unique to the fact that my children were older adoptees. But for the most part, when my kids’ have struggles, they are the struggles of every kid — not adopted kid struggles. When homework is hard, it’s because they have a hard teacher not because they were adopted. When a best friend disappoints, it’s because that’s what happens in Middle School, not because they were adopted. When they don’t get picked for the team, it’s because others played better, not because they were adopted.”

When homework is hard, maybe it’s because they were asked to make a family tree diagram and don’t know where to place their biological family. Because they were adopted. When best friends disappoint, maybe it’s because those are the peers who are supposed to understand them and not unintentionally say something racist, but it hurts anyway. Because they were adopted. When they don’t get picked on the team, maybe they will face that rejection harder because of a perceived “rejection” by their first family years before. Because they were adopted. Adoption is not a one time event; it is a life long process. The challenges adoptees face do not have to be all philosophical, grandiose thinking type questions. These challenges can present themselves in school, in the grocery store, and in small, everyday interactions.

If adoption shapes our lives so much – who we are, what language we speak, who raises us – and is so integral in our daily meetings with people, I am now questioning can Dylan Farrow’s adoption really be excluded from her story in the Woody Allen scandal?

Related Articles:

Why Dylan Farrow’s Adoption Matters

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13 responses to “My Kids Aren’t My ‘Adopted’ Kids (+ Response)

  1. I’m glad that you wrote this response. Many times I have thought this and intuited these same ideas when it came to my own kids. I think you hit the nail on the head with this response. Well done.

  2. I definitely didn’t like this line: “I love them no less because of the method by which we became a family.”
    Because nobody has insinuated ever that adopted kids are loved less.

    I also appreciate her protecting her children, but it is true that being adopted is a part of the identity of the family as well as the child, and something you can never “give up.”

    • Sadly, I actually have heard adoptive parents reflect on the adoption process with statements like, “I didn’t know if I could love a child not born to me, but…” It’s always disheartening and frustrating to hear comments like that. But thank you for your comment. I always appreciate finding other adoptee netizens.

  3. This is such a great post. I want to quote the entire thing!

    I understand the intent of adoptive parents who feel this way and I am confident that it is meant to be positive. However, as you so thoughtfully pointed out, an adoptive family IS a family by adoption. And it can be healthy for the adoptee involved to have this acknowledged. It is my feeling that the risk adoptive parents such as this one run is suggesting to the adoptee that being part of an adoptive family is somehow less-than or inferior to being “just a family.” The implication there being that non-adoptive families are the “just a families” that all families should try to be. Why not embrace the reality of being an adoptive family so that the adoptee can grow up in an environment that is respectful of the unique aspects of being born to one family and raised in another?

    Because, as you expressed, “adoption is not a one time event; it is a life long process” for the adoptee.

    • Thank you so much, Julie! I agree with everything you just stated. How can an adoptee can’t develop a healthy identity as such if the status of the adoptive family is stigmatized, trivialized, or dismissed?

  4. I believe that is vital info for me. And i am satisfied studying your article. The website’s design is ideal, and the article is excellent :D. Good job, cheers.

  5. My husband and I got quite excited when Jordan could do his reports through the ideas he made from your web pages. All the illustrations you made, the simple web site menu, the friendships you can assist to create – it’s most incredible, and it’s making our son and the family think about this issue, which is certainly quite important. Thank you for all the pieces!

  6. This post is very well written, I met your parents at a FCC event and they told me about your blog. So happy they did, I enjoy reading it and sharing it with my daughter, age 12, adopted from China in 2003. Keep up the good work, we really appreciate your insights.

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