Out on our weekly date at a favorite lunch spot, we were barely seated when I heard her voice. Although her back was to us, we heard every word without any effort. In fact it would have been impossible not to hear her.
She was engrossed in loudly telling the woman seated with her about a mutual friend. It went something like this, “She’s been having to deal with her daughter, you know the one she adopted, the girl’s not really doing anything wrong, not really, but she’s just not really cooperating either.”
What the heck??
Why the label?
Her words stung my heart, reminding me of countless times I have heard that very same phrase over the years.
The first time I remember hearing someone say that, was back in the mid 70’s, before I was even married or had the joy of being an adoptive mom ten times over. I was in a conversation with a man as he was telling me a story of a friend’s son who had made some regretful choices. He commented to me, “His son got in trouble with the law, he’s the one they adopted!”
I wasn’t brave enough at the time to respond, but every fiber of my being wanted to come back with, “Are you serious?? Did you forget your second oldest son, whom you birthed, was quite the thug for years and that fourth kid of yours, whom you and your wife also birthed met the law personally, remember?” Regretfully, I didn’t have the guts back then to say anything.
But today is a different story. This silver haired mom of many has had enough!!
In fact in 2004, I remember watching the live broadcast of former President Ronald Reagan’s funeral and as the announcer was talking his television audience through the processional he was saying, “Here we have Maureen Reagan seated by Michael Reagan – his adopted son….”
I was aghast!!.
When in the world would Michael Reagan just become Ronald Reagan’s “son?“ Apparently never in former President Reagan’s lifetime! It had been almost 60 years and the media had not been able to let go of the label that Michael was adopted!!
And we wonder why kids who have been adopted often feel unaccepted??!! Really?
Big shocker there!!!!
I mean, seriously?
What is going on? The paperwork for Michael Reagan has been done for nearly six decades and this “professional reporter” is still referring to it!!
And to make matters worse, almost every time I have heard the label, “they adopted that one” refers to one who is causing trouble.
For the record, let’s just say it – we all have known many, many, many, many, many birth children who have given their parents a stinkin’ run for their money. Children birthed by good parents, engaging parents, involved parents, nice parents, parents who have gone to parenting conferences, parents who have spoken at parenting conferences, parents who have even raised their kids in “the church” – yes, plenty have gone sideways making yukky, lousy and regretful choices.
But somehow it’s never goes like this….NOT EVEN ONCE – “This kid here, the one they birthed, has been arrested and gone to jail” or even a bit more up close….“This kid here, the one I birthed, has gone sideways and I don’t know what to do.”
Why is that??
Why does the “adoption” label just keep sticking?? And especially when it comes to kids who struggle??
Isn’t it time to peel it off?
Somehow most seem to think it’s okay to remind an adopted male or female that they didn’t come into a family quite the same way. And if they go sideways, even a little (heaven help us!) the big “A” word is worked and whispered in hushed voices, “Ohhhhh! That’s the one they A.D.O.P.T.E.D.!”
The stark reality is this:
All kids are capable of making horrific choices. Yes! Kids who are birthed, home-birthed, born in water in a tub in your home, fostered, nursed, co-slept with, adopted or otherwise.
Because we all have our own ability to make choices: good choices, bad choices and downright ugly choices. Period. We are all sinners – all of us, me included.
Sadly, we apparently have an entire nation to educate that the paperwork in an adoption means that they have every right as a birthed child and that no distinction can be made by anyone legally or otherwise!! And that – believe it or not – birth kids cause trouble too.
Call me crazy, but it seems like it’s time to purposefully and intentionally peel the label off.
Labels have been on my mind in the last couple of days too. I wrote a fb post yesterday about labels and why folks are saying “Black Lives Matter.” Well, to me, all lives matter. Just like adopted children in a mom’s heart are just our children, all lives matter. Red and yellow, black and white…ALL MATTER in God’s eyes. Let’s all just drop the labels and just be people, children, lives, whatever. We don’t need labels to further differentiate us one from the other. We are all just people!
I agree sweet friend, whose neck I will hug one day!!! Thank you for speaking up – All lives matter!! xoxo
Bravoooooo, each and every person, adult, teen, youth, child, toddler, infant is first and foremost a child of the King. I am blessed with seven precious grand treasures. It grieves me when we are out with all seven treasures (one family) invariably someone has the audacity to ask ” are they all yours” or even better “do they all have the same father”.
Thank you for your comments because from now on my answer will be yes they are all children of their Heavenly Father, children of King PERIOD end of discussion.
Don’t every stop being an advocate for the most precious of treasures whether bio or not.
May my God continue to give you strength to be the silver haired mother of many.
“a silent stalker”
Awww silent stalker – you are sweet!! Thank you for your kind words.
I almost go ballistic when someone questions me, “Do you have any real children?” And I say, “These are my real children…” and they say, “Oh, right. You know what i mean….” OH MY GRACIOUS. Time to work hard at educating our friends and the public!!
Thank you for writing this. It really bothers me when a particular young woman’s grandmonther talks about her “real dad” meaning her bio-dad. Some people put far too much faith in genetics. Her “real dad” is the one who chose her and stood by her. She is quite happy to call him Dad. Why can’t everyone else? (And yes, she has met bio-dad).
I coulnd’t stop nodding and saying “Amen!” as I was reading (and my kids looking at me strange as I talk to the computer :o). As a step mom, a birth mom, and adoptive mom, a foster mom… I am soooooo tired of people treating me and my children like how the relationship started makes any difference. (and don’t get me started on the insensitive people who point to my children and ask which ones are the “real” children….I want to rip their hair out and rewind time so my children don’t hear those comments. Of course I always answer that they are all my real children. Ugh-people!) The non-birthed ones are NO LESS my children than any other and I am not LESS OF A MOM because they didn’t squeeze out my birth canal. They are mine and I am theirs. Period. So…. what did you say to the nasty lady?? (lol!)
Definitely smiled with your, “I want to rip their hair out…”
I don’t think any day was more infuriating to me, then the day of former President Reagan’s funeral. 58 years later and he is still known as “the adopted son”…I sat with my mouth hanging open.
Amen. Thank you for sharing. I totally agree. When we were in the process of heading to China for our daughter, every time I mentioned it, people would want to tell me about someone who adopted a child and all the problems they were having. Oh my….guess what? People have ‘problems’ with their birth children as well. I think the ‘problems’ are mostly the fact children grow up and part of that growing up has to do with testing the limits in hopes to learn and understand boundaries. If we, as parents, could understand this and learn to work around it, problems would be much less. Anyhow, it is so annoying the things people say….so annoying…I try to think it is just their ignorance. I love my daughter the same as my sons. My sons look so much like my hubby. They do not resemble me at all. My daughter, she is a beautiful girl with dark hair and beautiful dark eyes. She does not resemble me either. All four of them our my children. Same blood lines vs different blood lines…doesn’t change my love for all four of them.
So true. I never liked labels even way before we adopted. Why distinguish? They’re all their children.