Adoption Should Be Normal

It seems I mucked this post up a bit. In trying to confess something I consider to be wrong about myself, some people seem to be reading it as praise for that very feeling.

Doesn’t help that I unwittingly trampled on those who have difficulty getting pregnant. I apologized for that one. And I am sorry. That was dumb of me. I have close friends in those circumstances and I should have realized how idiotic my words could sound.

I wasn’t trying to say that adoption was better than biological parenthood. Having an adopted and a biological child myself, that’d be a pretty hard position to maintain without making some terrible implications about my own kids.

Here’s the thing: I think adoption gets the shaft. In wishing to correct that, I probably overreact the other way.

Two things happen with adoption:

  1. It’s a second class choice. Adoption gets relegated to this second (or even third) choice position. For whatever reason people don’t consider adoption as a legitimate way to have children on its own. It’s what you do when you’re infertile. It’s what you do when you’ve tried everything else.
  2. You’re praised for adopting as if you’ve done some noble and wonderful thing. People continually come up to my wife and I and tell us how great it is that we adopted. This one’s tricky (and now you’re thinking I sound like a hypocrite) because adoption is a wonderful thing. But so is having a baby the biological way, and we don’t praise mothers and fathers for doing that. The implication here is that adoption is a super-human feat. It’s not the norm.

The underlying issue here is the same: Adoption is not a normal choice. And that’s what I find so frustrating. I wish people would consider adoption as a normal choice. You can have a baby biologically or you can adopt. Everyone has that choice—it’s not just a choice for the infertile or the somehow super-human.

And because adoption gets the shaft like that I tend to overreact and want to place special emphasis on it to at least attempt to restore it to a normative position. Hence my confession that when I hear about people becoming pregnant part of me is disappointed. And let’s have the caveats this time—that obviously isn’t how I feel when it’s friends or family who have struggled to become pregnant. And obviously I don’t know everyone’s situation, so it’s pretty horrible of me to have those feelings without knowing the situation. Nevermind that it’s not my place to judge other people’s choices in the first place. All of this is why it was confession (I thought that was self-evident, but apparently not).

But confessing the feeling doesn’t change it. I do wish people would consider adoption. I can get over myself and still celebrate with them, but that’s an honest feeling I have. I’m not saying it’s right or good, but it’s there.

The choice to have children is such a complicated one (that should be evident in how hard it is to talk about without unknowingly stepping on someone’s shoes). It’s painfully ironic that teenagers accidentally get pregnant while mature couples try and try and try to get pregnant without success. Nobody tells you when you get married and start thinking about having children how difficult the process may be. Nobody warns you how common miscarriage is or that the simple act of getting pregnant may not be so simple.

And nobody tells you that adoption is an option you can consider. It didn’t really cross my mind the first time around. And that’s the problem. Our society doesn’t treat adoption as a normal choice. I think that sucks.

6 thoughts on “Adoption Should Be Normal”

  1. Thanks for this post. I kind of understood what you were doing in the other post, but I too was kind of put off by how it sounded..
    but I’m with you all the way on the “adoption should be normal” thing. I want my own bio-kid, but I also really want to adopt/foster a kid that needs a family, just because I can.
    Keep on spreading this message; it’s honest and open and it won’t offend anyone.

  2. Must admit, I prefer this post over the last one because I understand better. And I agree, I do not see why adoption is such a last resort. My family is dreadfully familiar with miscarriages, yet adoption is still pretty rare. (Don’t get me wrong, I’m very glad my parents kept trying. I’m the baby.) Thanks for broaching the subject in such a caring way.

  3. I agree with you that adoption isn’t a “normal” decision – especially the first time around. My husband and I had talked about having our “own” kids first and then adopting later — implying that we’d do the “real” thing first and then, as a goodwill gesture of sorts (ick!), adopt. (We instead had a (surprise!) third child.)

    I don’t think we were alone in that line of thinking. I don’t know anyone who has thought, from the initial yearnings for a child, to adopt. Perhaps it’s a mentality passed down through the generations — that you need to try to keep the genetic code reproducing or something. It’s biblical too, right? Everything had to be passed down to the “real” heir. So it seems everyone tries for that heir first, and only considers adoption later.

    I think this is an important discussion Kevin, because it’s good to be challenged to see adoption as an equally legitimate choice. It might even be a better choice for some people. (I also think NOT having kids needs to be considered a legitimate choice!)

    Your journey has definitely made an impact on me, and I am grateful for that. I hope you keep sharing your thoughts about adoption.

  4. Amen Kevin. I have struggled with those same thoughts, feelings, and frustrations. I am so tired of being told I’m “nice” for choosing adoption even though we are not infertile. I want to scream, I’m not NICE I’m just a parent! People always ask us if we’ll have more children of “our own”… or why we chose to adopt (since we obviously didn’t “need” to). It makes me sad, and your post nailed exactly why. I want adoption to be normal.

  5. We have always wanted to adopt but because my husband is disabled and we are older we are limited. Also, since we live on a super fixed income, we cannot afford to adopt. Finally, it would be nice if adoption were better regulated. Maybe not easier, per se, but there has to be a way to make it easier for those people who are really serious about building their family that way.

  6. I totally feel the same way sometimes. I feel horrible that I feel that way. I think, “why can’t I just be happy for them, all children are a gift from God!” But I can’t help but think, there are 140 million kids who need parents, why do you keep making more and ignore them? It’s wrong and I know it’s wrong but that’s a feeling I wrestle with too. Thanks for sharing!

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