Thursday, November 18, 2010

The use of "Adoption" as a qualifier and/or adjective

Tonight I've been thinking about the subject of the "qualifier".  You know, the phrase "the adoptive child of the Smiths" "This is my son John, he was adopted".   In one of the online forums I frequent there was a rather lively thread dealing with people's feelings on this topic.  Some people have noted that very often in obituaries, you will read that Mrs. Smith was survived by her son and adoptive daughter (or her adoptive children etc.).  In the media, if a crime happens and the person happened to be an adopted individual, that little tidbit of information is splashed on the front page.

Two camps emerged from this camp was adamant that the qualifier term "adoptive" isn't necessary and gets irked by all that.  The other camp was more iffy, not necessarily saying using the word "adoptive" is necessary, but that it is a fact of life and the more we hear about children that were adopted into families the more normalized adoption becomes which in turn helps diminish the secrecy and shame that being adopted used to conjure.

Let me try to sift through many of the comments and bring out the main points and see if there are any merits to either of the two camps making their points on the thread.

Media--  Is it necessary for magazines and tabloids to always name celebrity's children as adopted children?  For example one of the celebrities mentioned was Tom Cruise.  Is it necessary to put in the caption "Tom Cruise at a baseball game with his adoptive kids"?  What about this scenario...remember in the Spring the woman Tori Hensen that returned a newly adopted 7year old back to Russia?  I remember on some blogs and forums, single parents everywhere were smacking their heads because now people were talking about how single women shouldn't adopt because they can't handle what do you think? 

I personally think the former scenario is unnecessary because it's almost like the point is redundant...Tom Cruise is out at a baseball game with his it really necessary to use the phrase adoptive kids?  If people live in the states, they probably know that Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman did adopt kids...sheesh even I knew that and I'm not up on pop culture!  In the latter example...I'm kinda glad the media took off with it.  Why? Because I do feel that many people are not very well prepared to deal with attachment issues and while this case was not a positive news item, I'm hoping that it did spark some interest in learning about attachment and what behavioral problems there can be due to neglect and/or living in an orphanage prior to living in a home and having to deal with not only a culture change, but a whole new set of rules that are in place in order to live in a family setting. 

Everyday Life--What about introducing your kids to people as your adoptive kids?  What about blogging about adoption?  What about educating people in the store or school when it comes to adoption? 

Speaking for myself, I walk a fine line between the two.  In real life, I just refer to my Tigger as my daughter.  If I'm engaged in a relationship and we're talking and sharing, I will say that Tigger came to me by adoption and use that time to talk positively about each aspect of adoption, however, as a previous post stated, when out in public I don't owe anyone an explanation and most of the time I'll come up with something to say and just pretend that adoption is not part of the equation.  This is funny to me, because I always come up with ideas to put here on my blog and I do write about adoption and different aspects of it.  I do see the point that we as parents should not ignore adoption and/or it's issues and that the more we talk about it, talk about the ethics, and talk about the way both state and private agencies can improve or have improved.  I do believe this is great because it keeps adoption information out there and as one person said in the above thread..." the more you talk about it, the more normal it becomes".  And having adoption seen as a normal way of growing your family is always a good thing as it ensures your child won't be seen as a second class citizen. 

Obituaries--This is where we see many qualifiers...."survived by adopted _____".  Some parents don't think it's right and say "why can't it just say daughter, not adopted daughter". 

I do agree with this.  If I write my own obituary, you can bet I'm not putting Tigger down as my adoptive daughter, I am going to put her as my surviving daughter and that's it.  (if life goes according to plan)  Someone also mentioned that it may be necessary to write them this way because they may be archiving for future family trees...actually for genealogy purposes.  This was one thing I was going to research and look online for, but life got in the way.  I have no idea if obituaries are the place to read up on when doing genealogy, however, if tracing a bloodline and/or health history, you do need the distinction because in genealogy, adopted people are marked differently because they can't be a source for medical hx. 

50+ years ago, single unwed mothers were shipped off to maternity homes and their children were placed for adoption and all adoptions were closed.  With adoption awareness and focus to this issue, I do think our society has come far in it's attitudes regarding adoption.  Adoption is no longer the shameful secret and we celebrate adoption....for our relatives, because of our friends, or for oneself.  Could this have been possible without all the extra attention to adopted kid?  I'm not sure.  Again I do believe it's a thin line we walk and I hope that Tigger grows up to be proud of who she is....all of her history, not just from when she came to my home. 

I open this discussion up to the readers.  What do you think?  Is the qualifier "Adoption" used too often and only for bad purposes or do you feel that talking about your family, how you became a family and doing extra things like blogging about adoption in all it's glory (including the bad) is helping adoption become the norm  a way to counteract how adoption was viewed a few decades ago?

1 comment:

Ticia said...

Having recently dealt with an obituary I can tell you that yes obituaries are used for genealogy and such.

But, that being said I don't think we were listed as anything other than his children in the obituary. So, then I contradict myself.

In the end it's how YOU want your obituary, so if you want her listed as your daughter, that's what you do.