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Old 04-26-2013, 06:57 AM
 
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To avoid derailing an existing thread about something else - where gratefulness was brought up by two different posters - I thought it might be interesting to discuss the concept, and context, of being grateful and in general gratitude. I do believe that as humans we should all be grateful and appreciative for the good things we experience in life - from the small things like a beautiful day to the larger gifts bestowed on us throughout life and that gratitude is a natural response freely given and received in kind.

Yet, when it comes to the statement required from one group to another group - you should be grateful for being adopted - I cringe. That statement implies and requires a forced indebtedness - that comes with a heavy burden because it takes away from the spontaneous loving gift of gratitude, and turns it into something ugly, a repayment required which negates the loving action that would inspire the return gift of gratefulness.

Gratitude, or gratefulness for a good life to the family and friends surrounding you is a natural response to good things, and even in bad or challenging times happen - when the will to come back is still within you and you join forces and rebuild - you are grateful. True gratitude is something freely given in appreciation, love, thankfulness, and in joy. Just like love must be freely given, without condition, or demand - so must gratitude be something that comes from the heart.

I would imagine (hope) that we are all grateful and appreciative of the family and friends we enjoy in our lives. For the roof over our head, the education we have received. The love from others freely given to us. The fact that we live in a free society, and as such we have the freedom to do what we want (within reason and law), to travel, to choose professions, to be free to chose our mates, really any of the options we have every single day that would never happen in a restrictive society that exists in other countries.

Getting back to the grateful for being adopted - that contrived rigid belief and requirement placed on one segment of the population by another segment of the population - removes any of the true, beautiful, naturalness of the joy of gratitude - which must always be something freely given and from the heart - a natural response showing the value we place on the gift or action given to us back to the giver. Instead, that beautiful gift of gratitude is turned into a societal requirement that rings hollow, shallow in depth, valueless to the recipient, and because it is something expected, and required, from one group to another - it is an indebtedness that feels wrong and has no true value.

Can anyone see the difference?

Last edited by Artful Dodger; 04-26-2013 at 07:30 AM.. Reason: word error
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Old 04-26-2013, 07:29 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Artful Dodger View Post
Instead, that beautiful gift of gratitude is turned into a societal requirement that rings hollow, shallow in depth, valueness to the recipient, and because it is something expected, and required, from one group to another - it is an indebtedness that feels wrong and has no true value.
Yes. I think many APs would say that they are the grateful ones & that they do not expect their child to be grateful that they were adopted. However, it is indisputable that there is a societal expectation that adoptees in general should be grateful for adoption. I grew up getting that message drilled into my head from society (not my parents) & I know from spending time with family members who were adopted that strangers/acquaintances will still make the same comments today.

I am grateful for many, many things. I love my family, my friends, & my life very much. & I fully understand being grateful to your parents for raising you well & lovingly... But I am not grateful for the unfortunate circumstances that made adoption possible...

For example I'm not grateful for the circumstances I was born into, that my parents suffered with infertility, that I was unnecessarily separated from my sister or other family members for the majority of my life, etc. & I'm definitely not grateful that I am expected by much of society to be indebted for something that includes all of these realities. For me it is impossible to separate loss & challenges from adoption, so being grateful for my family/life now is not the same to me as being grateful that I was adopted.

Last edited by thethreefoldme; 04-26-2013 at 08:20 AM..
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Old 04-26-2013, 07:52 AM
 
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I don't think that I've ever used those words with my kids when it comes to adoption. A few times when my daughter is getting into one of her episodes, she loves to tell me that she would have been better off in Russia or remaining with her violent mother. This is when I step in and give her a bit of a reality check of what life is like for kids who are in orphanages and what their future looks like. Or what it is like living in a home filled with violence, drugs and alcohol. I know we touched upon this on the adoption naming thread but I've discussed the realities in detail with my daughter. My husband and I have never painted ourselves as rescuers or saints, nor have ever used the words "you should be grateful." I have although, explained the realities of what many children face and it is an important message to hear.

I get a kick out of my daughter. The other day she comes home, gets her snack, is on her iPod with all the bells and whistles, dressed in her nice clothes, petting the family dog. She starts on a tirade after a bad day at school and gasp...me asking her to pick up some of her things and put away in her room. Things escalated quickly and she got into the....better off in Russia in an orphanage. She lives in a little bubble of priviledge and has no idea. It is quite frustrating and at some point, I need to think of ways to give her a reality check.

However, I do express my gratitude frequently that we as a family, live a pretty good life compared to many in this country. We live in a nice home, my husband has a stable job, I can stay at home with the kids, we don't go hungry, we have our health, etc. I am grateful for the many blessings in our life and try to impart that message to the kids. It is never tied into adoption though although I have told them that their adoption was one of life's biggest blessings for my husband and me. In spite of the tough times we are going through as a family, we are grateful to have two healthy, relatively happy kids (aside from daughter's problems which come and go).
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Old 04-26-2013, 08:21 AM
 
Location: Little River, SC
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As a parent who has two adopted children, I have never foisted any requirement or pushed in any way an attitude of gratitude upon either of my children. They didn't ask to come live here, and my sense of well being isn't dependent upon (nor should it be) my kids being grateful to me. I have done the best job I knew how to do raising them and my hope and prayer is that they turn out to be people of good character, productive members of society, and surround themselves with people who will enhance their lives, and that they will enhance the lives of others. I want them to be happy, loving, kind, confident and to raise their children to be the same. Mine are turning 22 and 17 in a month. Has it been easy? No, it hasn't, but raising any child isn't easy, and mine came with tons of baggage (abuse, neglect, one was a crack baby etc.) I was afforded the opportunity to be a parent through these children, so I am the one who is grateful to them. My daughter is working on her nursing degree (very good student, and I know she will be a wonderful nurse), and my son wants to open up his own martial arts studio eventually and will be testing for his first degree black belt in a couple of months. Unfortunately he is not a good student, and doesn't like school, so he will not be going to college most likely, so we are supporting him in what he is good at, and hoping and praying he gets through his senior year next year and at least gets his hs diploma.

All that being said, their is a flip side to this that definitely ties in here. Because my children were adopted out of foster care and we were in that system for so many years, I heard the frustration of other adoptive parents and foster parents trying to adopt when the children would throw the bio parents up as fantasy parents to the foster/adoptive parents whenever they didn't get their own way, and had built up this fantasy in their minds about how wonderful their bio parents are and what a wonderful life they would be having if they were living with them instead (didn't seem to matter that the bio parents were horribly abusive). Most foster parents I knew were very good people and loved their foster children and wanted to adopt, but they just weren't prepared to handle this reaction from their foster children. It just didn't make any sense to them, because they weren't able to put themselves in their child's place, and instead of reacting appropriately they took it personally and usually countered their hurt with the "you should be grateful" response." Nobody who puts their whole heart and soul into raising and loving children wants to hear that they are sub-par to abusive, neglectful parents. There needs to be a class when you adopt that covers this particular scenario, because I can guarantee you that at one point or another your child will tell you that their bio parents were better than you. My response when my daughter threw me this curve ball when she was 12 was, "I'm sorry you are upset and frustrated with me, but I have made my decision based on what is best for you and this decision will stand." I can't remember what exactly she wanted that I said, "no' to, but I do remember that I felt she was too young at the time. I didn't even bring up the bio parents, so as not to get sucked in to her argument. When she again tried to tell me how wonderful her life would be with her bio parents and that her bio mom would let her do it, I just told her that I wasn't arguing and my decision was made.

I guess what I am trying to say here is that adoptive parents who seem to want gratitude from their children have in many cases failed to respond correctly or don't understand the reasons behind why their children throw up the bio parents in their face as fantasy parents. Children are master manipulators, and often lash out their own hurt and frustration that their bio parents didn't care enough about them to love and take care of them properly. When your adopted child tells you you are not as good as their bio parents, take that as a positive that they feel comfortable enough in your love and care to know they can release all that hurt and frustration and that you will still be there loving them regardless.
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Old 04-26-2013, 08:36 AM
 
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Originally Posted by Dreammaker View Post
I guess what I am trying to say here is that adoptive parents who seem to want gratitude from their children have in many cases failed to respond correctly or don't understand the reasons behind why their children throw up the bio parents in their face as fantasy parents. Children are master manipulators, and often lash out their own hurt and frustration that their bio parents didn't care enough about them to love and take care of them properly. When your adopted child tells you you are not as good as their bio parents, take that as a positive that they feel comfortable enough in your love and care to know they can release all that hurt and frustration and that you will still be there loving them regardless.
Some excellent points, Dreammaker. & in the heat of the moment I think the way you responded to your daughter was the best. It is important for parents to resume the conversation after both the child & adult have calmed down, too.

Because many adoptees go there not just to be mean, but because they have unresolved issues. Depending on the child, they probably realize what they said isn't true. They don't need to be lectured about how much better they have it -- what they need is help exploring their feelings about their biological parents & adoption in healthy ways.

Last edited by thethreefoldme; 04-26-2013 at 09:12 AM..
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Old 04-26-2013, 08:39 AM
 
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Originally Posted by Dreammaker View Post
All that being said, their is a flip side to this that definitely ties in here. Because my children were adopted out of foster care and we were in that system for so many years, I heard the frustration of other adoptive parents and foster parents trying to adopt when the children would throw the bio parents up as fantasy parents to the foster/adoptive parents whenever they didn't get their own way, and had built up this fantasy in their minds about how wonderful their bio parents are and what a wonderful life they would be having if they were living with them instead (didn't seem to matter that the bio parents were horribly abusive). Most foster parents I knew were very good people and loved their foster children and wanted to adopt, but they just weren't prepared to handle this reaction from their foster children. It just didn't make any sense to them, because they weren't able to put themselves in their child's place, and instead of reacting appropriately they took it personally and usually countered their hurt with the "you should be grateful" response." Nobody who puts their whole heart and soul into raising and loving children wants to hear that they are sub-par to abusive, neglectful parents. There needs to be a class when you adopt that covers this particular scenario, because I can guarantee you that at one point or another your child will tell you that their bio parents were better than you. My response when my daughter threw me this curve ball when she was 12 was, "I'm sorry you are upset and frustrated with me, but I have made my decision based on what is best for you and this decision will stand." I can't remember what exactly she wanted that I said, "no' to, but I do remember that I felt she was too young at the time. I didn't even bring up the bio parents, so as not to get sucked in to her argument. When she again tried to tell me how wonderful her life would be with her bio parents and that her bio mom would let her do it, I just told her that I wasn't arguing and my decision was made.
First, glad to hear that your children are doing well. It is nice hearing some positive stories, especially when kids have had a rough start in life.

I think that what you said is really, really important and if there were mandatory classes for adoptive parents, this is a topic that should be discussed at length. Trying to frame an appropriate response can be really hard, especially in the heat of the moment. I admit, I've lost my temper at times with my daughter but with time and therapy, we are all making improvements. As adoptive or foster parents, we make such huge emotional investments in our children. When a child lashes out with the bio parent comment, it is a hard thing to hear. I think that you handled it beautifully.
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Old 04-26-2013, 09:37 AM
 
Location: Colorado
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I always remember this line from the play The Corn is Green by Emlyn Williams: Gratitude is the most humiliating debt of all.

That has stuck with me for 20 years.
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Old 04-26-2013, 11:01 AM
 
Location: The New England part of Ohio
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I think that it is normal for children, adopted or not to have gratitude towards their parents for a "job well done".

You won't hear or feel it at five or six. And NO CHILD has gratitude for "being born". So, my daughter has no gratitude towards the people who conceived her.
I think that is normal.

However, my kids were raised to have manners. Not only in the formality of saying "please" , "thank you" and not to interrupt; but to be genuinely and sincerely considerate individuals.

The world needs more of those.

Are they ready to raise children? At just turned 17 and 19, respectively; the answer would be an unequivocal "hell no!".


During a conversation with a good friend last evening, I mentioned that if I were to adopt an infant, that I would not leave said child with either child, I would not leave either of them alone with them for longer than two hours.
They are still kids themselves. I don't expect them to be mini-adults.

Both of my children have a distinct disinterest in infants, which I think is normal for their age group. My daughter babysits but in her own words "I don't do babies".

(I am SO glad of that)

Any way my children, as they make their way through their teen years, they have both begun to express gratitude towards both of us, in a variety of ways.
Most recently, when my son began receiving letters of acceptance from colleges that admittedly he would not have known existed, one day he received a letter of acceptance to Antioch College in Yellow Springs Ohio. It was his first choice.
(for a variety of reasons, he did not end up attending Antioch)
However, my son was full of joy, thrilled with his achievement, over flowing with happiness and yes gratitude! My son turned to me and said "Mom, I'm do happy you're my mother - I couldn't have done this with out you!"

And he was right. He couldn't have. Most of the colleges that he applied to he'd never even heard of. I know his personality, likes and dislikes. I'm a mom. That's what I do.

Similarly, my daughter and I were shopping for prom gowns last year. She's been asked to the junior prom. She was trying on gown after gown that were not doing her justice and resisting the style that I'd been promoting.
Finally she gave in, and tried on another gown style.

She looked smashingly good! And at that point my daughter through her arms around me and said "Mom you are amazing! I'm so glad you're my mom!"

Has my daughter who was adopted at four months ever said "thank you for adopting me". NO. Why would she? She knows that we had her brother and adopted her out of selfish reasons! WE WANTED CHILDREN. Infants at the time.

However, the dynamics can be different when older kids are adopted, especially teens and pre-teens who know that most prospective parents prefer younger children. Many of them are grateful that they were adopted.

I see nothing wrong with that. Consider the alternative.
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Old 04-26-2013, 11:07 AM
 
Location: The New England part of Ohio
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Originally Posted by chilaili View Post
I always remember this line from the play The Corn is Green by Emlyn Williams: Gratitude is the most humiliating debt of all.

That has stuck with me for 20 years.
It's a nice literary line. However, there is nothing wrong with being humble.

At any rate, I don't agree with the sentiment. But it's works as a literary device. Taking it out of context and applying it to adoption, however; does not work.
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Old 04-26-2013, 12:01 PM
 
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Originally Posted by sheena12 View Post
It's a nice literary line. However, there is nothing wrong with being humble
There's a big difference in being humiliated & a person being humble. I think it's a very fitting line here because so many people do expect adoptees to be grateful they were adopted. Oh, & let's not forget all the people who assume we should be grateful we weren't aborted, too. Of course most assume these things without even knowing if abortion was an option or whether adoption negatively impacted the person they are referring to. Thanks for sharing, Chilalli.

Last edited by thethreefoldme; 04-26-2013 at 12:20 PM..
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