Recently I read a blog post from a birth/first mother/ author I’ve been following for a few years, Denise Rossele. While I was writing my first memoir, Akin to the Truth, I read her book, Second-Chance Mother because I needed the perspective of a birth mom. (Mine is no longer living, and I wanted to find a way to connect and learn.) Denise is realistic yet upbeat and shows compassion and respect for all sides of the adoption community, therefore I value her opinion on adoption-related topics. She recently happened into a conversation about adopting children and what a “gift” adopted children are.
I am not a gift. I’m a person. What’s so troubling and triggering about the word, “gift” in relation to adoption is that often we think of gifts as items. We give gifts for birthdays, weddings and holidays. We buy gifts at Macy’s, Target and Amazon.com, and we bring them home in the car or have them arrive on our doorstep via UPS. Occasionally we down-load our gifts.
Using the term “gift”, as in the “gift of adoption” reduces adopted human beings to parcels of property, given and gained through transaction and trade.
I think of my children, instead as a blessing. I also have the blessings of other family, my marriage, a home, good friends and even our family cats and dogs. My work is a blessing. No one else had to endure a loss or defeat financially or emotionally in order for me to have my blessings.
“Gift” isn’t a bad word. I’m sure the person who used that bit of language with Denise did not intend to be condescending or insulting. The lady who said it was not thinking that while adoption is a wonderful gain for some people, for others it’s a heart-breaking and bittersweet loss/ sacrifice for someone else, (Birth family).
I’m not saying that we shouldn’t use the word “gift”. (The LAST thing I want to be is the Word-Police, and goodness knows that certain sectors of the adoption community have enough of those types.) What I am saying is that we should be mindful about what we say and around whom. Open-door comments such as: “What was that like for you?”, “Tell me about your experience” and “What is it like for you now?” go a long way and invite sharing and understanding.
As a community, our perspectives are diverse and often intense. Not only do we need to educate the general public about what we believe to be true and why, but we also need to educate and support one another. It’s an on-going thing as we all begin to speak out more.
If you are interested in Denise’s side of the story, here is a link to her blog: