STOP praising me for adopting!
Leah Campbell, fellow single adoptive mom, wrote this week on mom.me that Adoption Isn’t Something to Praise, and I wanted lend my support to her position.
I am told several times a week, by strangers and acquaintances, that I’m “such a wonderful person”, a saint, an angel, a person the world should stand up and thank. It’s beyond irritating and here’s why: Adopting a child, as well as fostering a child who was reunited with his family, was not a public service for me.It was not me volunteering to clean litter from the roadside, or cook and serve food to the homeless. I didn’t do it “out of the goodness of my heart” or as a way to save the world. I did it because I wanted to. It met my needs, it satisfied my goals and dreams, it made me feel good. Those are the same reasons I go on vacation, by the way. They are also the same reasons that I would get an advanced degree, take a class in something that interests me, do a hobby, or sleep in in the morning… because I love it.
Like any person who doesn’t get pregnant accidentally, in order to be a parent I did some work to get there. I made a few sacrifices and I jumped through some hoops. As a parent, I make the same sacrifices and slog through the same trials and reap the same rewards and enjoy the same benefits as a parent with biological children. You don’t have to compliment me for it, or tell me I’m amazing. People go through a lot to have children, lots and lots of people every single day. I’m no different.
The worst part of being praised for adopting is that the subtext screams that my daughter owes me something, like I did her a favor. In fact, most people add “she’s so lucky you adopted her!”. Um, no. All children deserve and are entitled to a loving and secure home, education, and opportunity. She’s not lucky nor does she owe me anything for something that she was entitled to by fact of her mere existence. True, she might not have had as many opportunities with her biological family, but she also wouldn’t have suffered a horrific loss at the most vulnerable time in her development. She wouldn’t feel a schism in her identity for her entire life. So you know… you’re basically saying that I “saved her” when that is totally not the case. She saved me, by allowing me to be a mother, allowing me to love a child with all my heart, which was my dream.
Would you praise me for winning the lottery at someone else’s expense?
If you want to offer praise, let it be for the type of mother I am (and no, “adoptive” mother is not included as a type, just as a footnote in my/her story). Let it be because my daughter seems happy and well adjusted. Let it be because I handled a tantrum so calmly. Let it be because I’m a single mom who obviously works hard to be patient and loving to my daughter even when I’m exhausted. Let it be for the same reasons all dedicated and involved parents deserve praise.