Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Sticks and Stones...

Articles in the media often describe mother, father and children as "adoptive" when the story has nothing at all to do with adoption, and assigns adoptive families to a class of family "other" than a regular family. They also set adoptive families apart from typical families, whether they intended to or not. I've even seen it in obituaries.

Once a mother becomes a mother by way of adoption, she is just "mother". A father is just a father. A child is just a child. Adoption should not even be factored into the equation or described as a "type" of family, short of discussing anything related to adoption where it is required. A woman who becomes a mother via adoption doesn't love her child any less than a woman who gives birth to it, nor should she be set apart any more than an adopted child should be. That stereotype is perpetuated enough in the media when reporters and such call an adult or minor child "the adoptive child of..." or a parent the "adoptive parent of..." as if it should make some kind of difference to anyone how a parent and child came to be a family. We don't call a mother who has a donor egg implanted a "gestational mother", or a child who was conceived via donor sperm a "donated child". So why is the term "adoptive" used at all, if we are not talking about adoption in general?

It's that descriptor that perpetuates the stereotype of adoptive families and adoptive children being different, second best or not "regular". It may not have been what the author intended, and so subtle that no one else notices or cares, but I do. And I try to correct and educate when something jumps out at me as wrong.

My son will be growing up in a world where he will hear, and read and see these things, and I dare anyone to make him feel as if he was a second best choice, or different, or that his parents love him "differently" or that his mother or father are just his "substitute" caregivers.

We all need to be more aware of adoption language, that kind of subtle stereotyping by inserting "adoptive" into a label in the future. It is that kind of subtle descriptor that goes unnoticed by people who've not been affected by adoption, but that also continue a subliminal message to those same people in society that adoption makes a person "different" somehow. For those who have been adopted or have adopted (and I've been both), it's a much louder message.


Lisa said...

So well said! Thank you for this post!

Essie the Accidental Mommy said...

Yep, I agree with Lisa, very well said.
In my case, I have one birth and one adopted, and so I get "which one is the real one"!!! Seriously! Actually though they look so much alike a lot of people think they are twins go figure.