Stop Saying This To Kids Who Are Adopted

by Melissa Guida-Richards
Originally Published: 
A girl wearing a blue and black plaid shirt, jeans, and a pink backpack curling up on a bench.

It’s a pretty simple rule: Never tell an adoptee to be thankful that they are adopted.

Now let me tell you why.

It doesn’t matter if their biological parents abused them, did drugs, or want nothing to do with them. It doesn’t matter if they came from a third world country. What matters is that they are separated from the family that biologically should have taken care of them.

Children who have been abused often still love their parents.

If they want to say that, okay. But nobody should tell them they have to be thankful for you changing their circumstances. If you decide to adopt children, they didn’t force you into it. You wanted a child for whatever reasons you have. You made that decision. They are filling that void for you because, well, life isn’t fair. Children don’t get to choose their parents. They don’t get to choose how they are treated.

They don’t need to be thankful for being adopted. They should be allowed to feel what they need to feel without criticism. Adoption is hard. Think about all that you gained at the cost of a huge loss in the child’s life. If they are young, they may not have the capacity to understand their bio parent wasn’t treating them right, or if they are older, they miss being surrounded by people who look like them, whatever they feel, they have a right to those feelings.

As an adoptee, I have been told dozens of times that I should be grateful, that my parents are amazing, and that I am lucky to have them.

Now, that may seem like an appropriate response to tell adoptees, but it is not.

Every time someone tells me I’m lucky I can’t help but think…

I don’t know my medical history.

I don’t know which of my parents had freckles like me.

I don’t know any of my biological siblings.

Does wanting to know more about my bio family make me a bad person?

Oh, no. I may hurt my parents’ feelings if they think I’m curious about my biological family?

Why should I care about a woman who placed me in adoption?

So, you see, I’m not really thankful that I’m adopted. Am I glad sometimes that I was? Yes. Do I love my adoptive family? Yes. But I’m not glad that the woman who should have had a biological urge to care for me and love me, abandoned me. That I will probably never meet my siblings. That I don’t have access to the culture and land I was born in.

Most importantly, I don’t like anyone telling me how I should feel. Everyone’s situation is different. The only person whose feelings you should direct is your own.

I know I’m not alone in my thoughts, but I am aware that there are many adoptees who are grateful they were adopted, and that is perfectly fine. My hope is that adoptive families will not project their feelings on the adoptees, and will simply help them express themselves in a healthy way.

If you plan to adopt, please consider this because adoption is a complicated beast. Remember to listen to your child, follow their cues, and be the best you can be. That’s all a parent can ever do.

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