Parents, not “parents”

When parents are going through a divorce, therapists will often counsel them to be very careful about how they speak to their children about the ex. This is in part because children are very closely tied to their parents; disparage the parent and you’re disparaging the child. A child often sees him or herself as being part and parcel with the parent. So if you say one parent is worthless, the child feels this very personally.

It is also unfair to make a child “choose” between parents or to demand their loyalty.

I realize this is a very hard thing. Everybody wants to be loved the best. But parenting is a hard thing.

So when I hear adoptive parents claim that they are the “real parents,” I cringe. Because they are the ones who love and take care of the kids, yanno.

So for many adoptive parents, distance between themselves and the birth parents is a positive.  This distance can be emotional or it can be physical or it can be both.  The best of all is when the birth parents aren’t known–because then they can be recreated in any image the adoptive parent desires.  Your birth parents loved you so much that they made you available for adoption.

W.  T.  F.

It makes it clear to me that this may be one of the reasons international adoption is so highly preferred to domestic adoption.  Because the story can be simplified in a way that makes it neat and tidy emotionally for adoptive parents.  But it makes it clear to me also that prospective parents view children as being products of their birth parents as well.


2 thoughts on “Parents, not “parents”

  1. “… the story can be simplified in a way that makes it neat and tidy emotionally for adoptive parents.”

    Yes. Although I’m not proud to say it, this is exactly how I viewed adoption from Korea when we began the process of adopting. The advice we got was to help our children assimilate, treat them no differently than other families treat the children born to them, and respect their mothers’ and fathers’ desire to remain unknown. We accepted all of it as wise counsel and best practice.

    This point of view lasted only until our first child, our son, arrived from Korea, however. The moment I held him for the first time, all the tidy ends unraveled. Since then, what has tortured me isn’t the fear of his or our daughter’s first parents making contact out of the blue – it’s the fear that my children may never know them.

  2. Pingback: links for 2007-11-06 at Racialicious - the intersection of race and pop culture

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