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Old 01-23-2013, 11:35 AM
 
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I think we agree on more than you think, Craig... I don't think there is anything wrong with complimenting the family or saying, "That's great." & I agree that most people make those comments with good intentions... however, consider that it is perhaps easy for you to overlook when you are not the one that the unspoken subtext is belittling.

Perhaps you also don't realize how often adoptees hear such messages & what it can do to a child's self-esteem while growing up internalizing such messages?
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Old 01-23-2013, 11:44 AM
 
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Ok, so imagine a young adoptee, who is grieving the loss of the original family, feeling different, feeling like there's something wrong with you.
And add to that all the messages society gives to adoptees- you should be grateful, you're lucky to be adopted, your bparents could be bad people, your parents 'took you in'. It makes you feel like a second class citizen.

You are not aware of the subtle messages in the 'well intentioned compliments'.

I imagine it is so much worse for children who have suffered with neglect and abuse and lost their families, who do have behavioural issues, who believe they are bad and defective, to have people say their families are 'amazing people' for taking them in considering they have behavoural problems.
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Old 01-23-2013, 11:49 AM
 
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Oh, I've been there when strangers blurted out really, really thoughtless things in the presence of my young relatives who were adopted. One has a mild, visible special need - a woman dining in a restaurant where we were celebrating a family birthday took it upon herself to verbally call attention to this as we were leaving, as in "Look, that child is (incorrect term for the special need)....". I gave her the coldest stare I could manage, and hope my young relative, who was about eleven when this happened, didn't overhear her (my young relative was ahead of me and exiting the room when I overheard the woman). Just clueless: failure to engage brain prior to opening mouth, classic case.

So I get where you are coming from. This woman, and those like her, were entirely out of line.

However - we're getting into rather fine-haired points here - when someone who's obviously well-intentioned but who is unfamiliar with the preferred language or doesn't realize the impact of subtext makes what's intended to be a complimentary statement, that's rather different. This happens far more frequently, and I think it's wise for parents to discuss it with their children afterwards, to make it clear that the awkward would-be complimenter simply lacks the background and information to know better, and that such people would be horrified if they realized how their words and attidude might cause pain.

The parent might also do well to reassure the child that it's okay to be distressed by this, but to understand that no deliberate hurt was intended, and to not let it get to them.

However, in the case of the clueless such as the woman described above, had my young cousin actually overheard her, I would not be distressed if my cousin had responded, "Yes, I know I have (name of special need). But thanks for sharing". In fact, although this sounds like a rude response on the surface, I'd be entirely supportive of my young cousin, and would hope that such a cloddish person might think twice next time before opening her mouth.
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Old 01-23-2013, 12:00 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by misosoup1 View Post
Ok, so imagine a young adoptee, who is grieving the loss of the original family, feeling different, feeling like there's something wrong with you.
And add to that all the messages society gives to adoptees- you should be grateful, you're lucky to be adopted, your bparents could be bad people, your parents 'took you in'. It makes you feel like a second class citizen.

You are not aware of the subtle messages in the 'well intentioned compliments'.

I imagine it is so much worse for children who have suffered with neglect and abuse and lost their families, who do have behavioural issues, who believe they are bad and defective, to have people say their families are 'amazing people' for taking them in considering they have behavoural problems.
While my young relatives referred to in my previous anecdote came from a difficult background, they do not grieve or yearn for their abusive natural parents, nor do my relatives have behavioral problems or demonstrate any evidence whatsoever that they believe they are bad or defective.

However, I do expect my young relatives would feel self-conscious to overhear the "amazing family" comments from others - and as I've previously said, that's where parents' response is crucial - perhaps saying, "No, we're just regular folks, not at all amazing, unless you're talking about our kids! Did you know what this child did just last week?" and then describe some recent accomplishment.

Again, I don't think a one-size-fits-all description of adopted children and whatever painful feelings they may have is applicable here. Each person is different, though there are some shared traits, clearly. It's up to all good parents to discern just who their children are, and what their needs may be, and to care for them accordingly, to the best of their ability.
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Old 01-23-2013, 12:03 PM
 
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Originally Posted by sheena12 View Post
Agreed. Calling it "their baby" seems almost delusional. And the ones that I have encountered do seem to seek to repeat the situation via another pregnancy. Very sad.
This has been my experience with bmother's who choose adoption at birth and I do feel it does more harm than good in the long run. There is a difference between pregnancy and parenting (after birth) that is not insignificant. Our bodies are capable of doing much, however, full-time, lifetime, parenting requires more than the "physical" job of pregancy.

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Originally Posted by Linmora View Post
My daughter absolutely does not want to talk about her adoption all that much. I've been very open and honest, especially with her since she is at an age to understand. I've spoken with her about adoption extensively, shown pictures, given her some clothing items from the orphange. We've probed her feelings in therapy with her therapist who is also an adoptee. I know that feelings will change over the years but this is almost an area she doesn't want to talk about or acknowledge. In a moment of complete honestly, she told me, "Mom, I just don't like to think about it all that much. It is really sad and I don't want to be dwelling on it. I just want to get on with things."
Linmora this is wonderful! I agree with your daughter, she seems very wise for a young woman. I think moving on is the best way and when one dwells on something they find unpleasant they may block their own growth and happiness. I love the fact that you honor her for recognizing this.

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Originally Posted by sheena12 View Post
Some mothers who give their children up for adoption must care about their children. I have a lot of respect for people who know that they are not ready to parent and relinquish their children.
Exactly. I don't know why some assume we hate birthmothers. All we are saying is that it is not a necessity to maintain contact with them or include them in the upbringing of our adopted children. I respect them, some of them I've met and know (family members and friends) have gone on to have families of their own. They don't "forget" about their baby...how can they? They've gone through an entire pregnancy. However, they do acknowledge that they are not the adoptees' "mother" any longer in the practical sense of the meaning of mother, not the biological sense of giving birth to a child. Just to be clear, I'm talking about infants and babies specifically.

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Originally Posted by no kudzu View Post
I think Jaspers comments were about how awesome the adoptive parents were to keep siblings in touch and connected. She was trying to make a positive comment and , as it so typical on this forum, she is criticized. There is no way those of us who are positive about adoption can win here. Everything we say is torn apart and picked to death. somebody makes a blanket statement "denying adoption trauma is child abuse", we call her on that and then we are called on our statement. I give up.
Agree.

How the "triad" or "constellation" was explained to me and my husband by our social workers is that when Fostering, it helps the children understand what is going on and keeps their parents in a more positive light (in cases of abuse, neglect, etc.). Because ultimately these children will be returned to their homes. So, in this context, it makes perfect sense.

In adoption cases of infants and young toddlers, one may want to be in touch with the birthparents for a limited time (young toddlers) for a smoother transition, initially. Also, to have information about the bparents for "down the road" IF your child has questions or is curious. You are basically given a "file" for your child that includes all the history the agency knows about him/her and their families.

In adoption cases involving relinquishment, there is no file, and there is no contact with the bmother unless she chooses to leave information with the adoptive parents she chooses from the agency's list.

This is the "open" adoption in my state. After adoption is finalized, no triad or constellation is mandated to be maintained for the AP's or the bparents. In many cases it is not advisable unless the situation calls for it. This is usually with older children and sometimes with bparents of infants - again, it's situational. Upon adoption the original birth certificate is sealed and a new one is created.

We are choosing an infant adoption to avoid triads and constellations but that does not mean we will not respect the bparents or that we look down upon them. We just know we will want to "move on."

Last edited by Jaded; 01-23-2013 at 01:24 PM.. Reason: clarity
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Old 01-23-2013, 12:03 PM
 
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So I imagine you can definitely see how it might be upsetting to constantly hear that his parents are "awesome" because they were willing to parent a boy with special needs? & that in some cases it is important to let people know they should think twice before making comments like that?

That really was my whole point in trying to explain why Miso may have taken offense. When you know better you can do better. That is my belief & it was not my intention to attack anyone, merely explain how some well-intentioned adoption compliments can actually be hurtful from the adoptee's perspective.

My hope is that we can understand each other better.

Quote:
Originally Posted by CraigCreek View Post
However, I do expect my young relatives would feel self-conscious to overhear the "amazing family" comments from others - and as I've previously said, that's where parents' response is crucial - perhaps saying, "No, we're just regular folks, not at all amazing, unless you're talking about our kids! Did you know what this child did just last week?" and then describe some recent accomplishment.
The problem is that parent's reassurance can only go so far... obviously they need to know their parents do not believe the same message, but it doesn't prevent the child from being acutely aware that society as a whole believes it anyway.

For example,

If a child is teased throughout the years at school for being fat & ugly, there is only so much a parent can do to reassure the child that they are beautiful. The message society gives them typically takes a toll & the message is internalized.
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Old 01-23-2013, 12:26 PM
 
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Originally Posted by thethreefoldme View Post
So I imagine you can definitely see how it might be upsetting to constantly hear that his parents are "awesome" because they were willing to parent a boy with special needs? & that in some cases it is important to let people know they should think twice before making comments like that?

That really was my whole point in trying to explain why Miso may have taken offense. When you know better you can do better. That is my belief & it was not my intention to attack anyone, merely explain how some well-intentioned adoption compliments can actually be hurtful from the adoptee's perspective.

My hope is that we can understand each other better.
This thread is moving rapidly - I assume these comments were in regard to my previous posts.

Most of those who've made the "awesome" comments seem to be more impressed that my relatives adopted internationally, and adopted older children, rather than that they adopted a child with mild special needs. The woman in the restaurant was the only one I've personally encountered who was totally clueless and (perhaps thoughtlessly) rude, and had I confronted her (other than making eye contact and glaring at her), it would have caused my young relatives acute embarrassment. I do think it's important to try to set people straight in such cases in which a child overhears thoughtless comments (as well as when the child is nowhere around), and my previous examples deal with this, as well as with talking with the child afterwards to make sure they grasp the situation and to reassure them in whatever way seems appropriate.

The comments and questions directed at me about my young relatives and their parents are not "constantly" in the "awesome" category. As the children have been home for a good many years now, most of my friends and acquaintances are aware of them, and their comments and inquiries are more in the "How are the kids getting along? How old are they now?" category, which of course is quite innocuous.

Once in a while, if the topic of special needs adoption or international adoption comes up, I do mention my family's connection, and that's when it's more likely to hear the "awesome" comments. I take them as intended, but discount the "saintly" aspect - often, responding something like "Yes, the kids from their country who live in the orphanages don't have an easy time of it, but my relatives are doing really well now and those days are long past".

It's also not uncommon to be asked (not in the presence of the children, however), "What happened to their parents?", which to me is a far more intrusive and very personal question.

Many Americans, hearing the word "orphanage", automatically assume that children living there or from there have lost their parents to death, when in reality, a large majority of the children living in the orphanages and institutions of Eastern Europe, where my relatives are from originally, are what is termed "social orphans" - their original parents are living, but have either abandoned their children, signed custody of their children over to the state, retain legal custody but are using the orphanage as a sort of temporary day-care/boarding school, or have had their children removed because of abuse and neglect.

So this is a tricky one to answer, without impinging on my relatives' privacy or offending the usually simply curious inquirer- it's the children's story, after all, and I am but a small part of it.

So I respond in general terms - pointing out that children frequently enter the orphanage system in my relatives' birth country for the same reasons that children here are placed into foster care, and not going into any more detail. If pressed, I simply say that this is their story to share, not mine, and that I don't know all the details (true - I know most, but not all), but if the inquirer has any special interest in adopting from my relatives' native country, or in helping the children still living in that country's orphanages, I'll be happy to share all I know about those topics and direct them to some good resources.

That usually sorts out the casually curious from those with a real interest.

Last edited by CraigCreek; 01-23-2013 at 12:40 PM..
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Old 01-23-2013, 12:29 PM
 
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As far as hurtful messages delivered by society which may become internalized, all any parent can do is to reinforce their child's inner strength and to reassure and assuage the hurt such messages can cause. This is true in all cases, regardless of how that child came to be in a family...

It should perhaps be noted that "society" also can deliver positive messages, and false-positive messages, in which trivial traits receive great positive attention while other good traits are minimized and discounted. The parents' role is to help the child sort out all of these messages and put them in perspective. Other caring adults in the child's life can assist with this as well, and sometimes, warm words from a teacher or other adult family member or friend can be more influential than those same words coming from a parent - kids do tend to tune out parents at times!
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Old 01-23-2013, 12:36 PM
 
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Adoption constellation is an adoptee's entire family. It starts with the biological family, sometimes includes guardians/caretakers, & then it includes the adoptive family & sometimes step families.

Those families do not cease to exist simply because an adoption decree has been signed, or the adoptive parents wish to "move on" as some say.

Last edited by thethreefoldme; 01-23-2013 at 12:46 PM..
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Old 01-23-2013, 01:21 PM
 
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Originally Posted by CraigCreek View Post
As far as hurtful messages delivered by society which may become internalized, all any parent can do is to reinforce their child's inner strength and to reassure and assuage the hurt such messages can cause. This is true in all cases, regardless of how that child came to be in a family...

It should perhaps be noted that "society" also can deliver positive messages, and false-positive messages, in which trivial traits receive great positive attention while other good traits are minimized and discounted. The parents' role is to help the child sort out all of these messages and put them in perspective. Other caring adults in the child's life can assist with this as well, and sometimes, warm words from a teacher or other adult family member or friend can be more influential than those same words coming from a parent - kids do tend to tune out parents at times!
Very well stated.
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