It’s always interesting to me the reaction our family gets over the years when strangers realize we are an adoptive family. With one adopted from Russia through Inter Country (or International) adoption and one adopted domestically as a special needs case, you can imagine we are quite the curiosity to some. The response that always seems to get me (no matter how often I hear it) is when someone informs me that “Adoption is trendy now!” or “It is totally the cool thing to do, to adopt instead of having a baby.” or my ‘don’t roll your eyes’ favorite, “Everyone wants to adopt now because of Angelina Jolie; that is why everyone is adopting now.”
No stupid – everyone is wearing whatever kind of sunglasses Angelina Jolie is wearing; THAT is a trend. Parenthood and adoption is not a trend. *sorry, I just said stupid…. but it kinda is* I really truly wonder how many people think adoption is trendy.
Is the idea adoption ‘cooler’ now? Maybe. Our society is more progressive as a whole.
Is adoption more accepted now? I certainly think so. Women aren’t stuffing their bellies and going to the hospital and pretending they are having babies. It’s virtually unheard of for an adopted child to NOT know they are adopted. It just isn’t a secret like it often was before. The reasons people adopt are broader now for sure; it isn’t just a ‘plan b’.
Is trans-racial adoption more widely socially acceptable than it was in previous decades? I think so.
Is that all maybe because we see examples of trans-racial adoption on the cover of magazines in the form of celebrity families? Probably at least in part.
So what is your problem Kate?
Here is my problem….
Fads and Trends are shallow, selfish, and for the most part meaningless; but our adoption is our family history, it is who we are at our foundation….. it was costly (in more ways than one), it was sacrifice, it was not selfish….. and it is us. Please just don’t call my family a trend, and please allow me a moment on a soap box to plead this case.
Adoption is not easy, that isn’t to say it is impossible or that it isn’t worth the work – it’s doable and it is so so worth it, but it is hard. Adoption is not something everyone can do (mentally, physically, spiritually, emotionally, financially, etc), Adoption is not a pair of jeans; it’s not something you just go and spend money on and then claim ownership to. Adoption is not a shopping trip with your girlfriends….. and when you say ‘trendy’ that is what it sounds like. Like, I can just see of a bunch of girls walking around the mall leisurely and then one spots a cute kid in the window and she squeals “Oh man! I TOTALLY want one of those, you know Angelina Jolie has one and it is so cute and I TOTALLY want one!” “Me too!” “Me too!” and they all go in and get their ‘trendy’ new accessory. Just easy peasy; because it is a trend.
Kids are people and people are not accessories. Kids are not to be your cute ‘thing’ to show off. I mean kids are cute and we dress them adorably and we love to show off their cuteness, but is their intimate history and the story of their life really something that they need to display? When a child doesn’t ‘match’ their parent it is something that they have to wear on the outside and it is hard. Our youngest doesn’t really look anything like me and you know what I am tired of? I’m tired of strangers asking me if she is adopted, mainly because it is followed up with some kind of “Lucky her” “Oh, you are such a good person” blah blah blah – 1st off, she is just a kid that got stuck with me and as far as people go, I am only OK. But here is the thing, I can handle the questions, what bothers me is my kids having to endure it. At two or three it isn’t as big a deal…. but as they get older, it gets harder. As much as I could let the “Ohs and ahhs’ stroke our egos, our concerns are for our kids. Kids are not for you to parade around to make an example of what you believe. I have noticed a warming in church communities to adoption, but thinking adoption is cool and actually adopting are two very different things. Yes, we adopted because of James 1:27 – to care for orphans. We adopted an orphan not because of infertility, but to ‘save’ a child from an unpleasant statistic….. but my son is not to be paraded around to make a point or further my cause; we don’t think that would be fair to him as a person. My son is my son. I don’t know if that makes any sense; my son knows he is adopted; he know this is special; but it is also complicated. We didn’t adopt him so we could be like “Look at what we did.”, our number one goal is to give him the life we feel he was initially robbed of, our goal is to help him through loss as he understands it, and to honor his history and heritage. We share stories with close friends, in private groups, when a friend (or a friend of a friend) has questions about adoption…. but for the most part his personal story is his story, our family story; it isn’t for public display. Most adoptive families don’t display their children and their stories all over for the world to see, so I just don’t see how that can be trendy. Do some parents do this? Yes, but it is not the majority of adoptive families protect their child’s story and experience; it is sacred…. and a trend is not sacred or private.
Here’s where I think the idea comes from. I think adoption is a cool idea for many, I think many more people romanticize about the idea of adoption and rescuing than actually do it. I think people see celebrity families in the media or even a few more adoptive families in their churches, schools, etc and they admire that. That’s not really a stretch – it is kinda cool, you take a child that does not have a family and you become their family. It is admirable, only jerks think it is wrong to give a child a family. Right? So we see adoption a little more, we are more accepting of it in society; but does being ‘cool’ alone mean it is trendy?
I wish I had taken pictures of our adoption paperwork. I wish I had taken pictures of all of it together to show how much of it there was. Anyone who has completed an adoption knows that is impossible really, because you do a boat load of paperwork and send some of it off, and then you move on to the next boat load of paperwork, and so on, and so forth. You can’t really photograph it all together in it’s entirety. But here is the thing friends who might still be like “Nah, adoption is totally trendy.” We had more paperwork in our Russian adoption than paperwork to buy our house, like a lot more paperwork. Not only did we have all that paperwork that needed to be notarized, we had to get physicals, mental wellness screenings, letters of recommendation, mandated parenting classes, and on and on. I just didn’t do it to be cool. I think if we had started out with the simple intention of being cool we would have lost steam and interest very quickly; there are easier ways to be trendy than to fill out mountains of paperwork and jump through invasive hoops.
Adoption was expensive. Yes there are ways to adopt for free, yes there are adoption fund raiser options out there, but overall, adoption is extremely costly. Travel, legalities, all that paperwork – it all costs money and it costs so much time. People that say “Oh, we might want one more kid, but we are just going to adopt because that will be easier.” kinda drive me bananas…… if you are capable of making one I promise you that is the easier route. Hear me – Adoption is TOTALLY worth every bit of sacrifice and cost (monetary, time, everything), but my point is – this was not something we did flippantly because it was ‘easier’. Trends tend to be cheap and easy to come by; adoption for the most part is neither of those things.
Adoption is forever. Trends are not. Trends are cyclical at best….. why are flower patterned jeans back people? It pains me to hear someone say my kids are trends. That in some ways implies they might have not adopted if it hadn’t been ‘the cool thing to do’ that year. During our first adoption we didn’t know anyone who had adopted. Friends, family, pastoral staff, and others looked at us like we were crazy. We just didn’t feel like the cool kids at all, which is fine because we were never the cool kids….. what I am saying is our adoption process didn’t make us any cooler. Adoption didn’t make us cooler for the moment or for the future; and less cool is the opposite of on trend. And here is the thing – we adopted the first time nearly 7 years ago, as far as trends go, my adoption is totally outdated right? But my boy is a classic and he is here to stay – he doesn’t go out of style – that’s not a trend people.
Even if you REALLY wanted to adopt, you have to be allowed to adopt. All the money in the world is not going to ‘buy’ you an adoption from a reputable agency – here or abroad. It just won’t. Generally you don’t need approval to participate in a trend – wide leg trousers, cropped jackets, tea length skirts – it’s a free for all, nobody at the store is going to tell you no. But you can’t just check paperwork off and say “OK, now give me my kid, I pick that cute one over there because his eyes match my blouse.” You have to be allowed.
The very closest I can get to “Adoption is Trendy” as a thing is perhaps “Googling ‘adoption’ with all kinds of happy thoughts about how you might one day fill up your home with orphans someday is Trendy.” – googling, thinking about it, even praying about it…. but completed adoption is so much more than that.
Actual adoption being trendy…. that just is not a thing.
*Steps Off Soap Box*