This 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?