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Friday, November 10, 2017

For the love of all things holy please don't say he's lucky

I'm not into being PR with adoption lingo. Really I'm not. We've gotten a lot of insensitive questions from folks who in the end aren't trying to hurt anyone's feelings or step on toes. They're just curious. And I get being curious, especially if it's someone who is considering adoption and wants a personal take on the matter. But my kids are old enough now that I don't feel the need to share their story with strangers in the check-out line of Target. Or Walgreen's. Or the doctor's office. Or at the baseball field. Or grocery store. Or church. Or at the park... because sometimes curious people ask insensitive questions everywhere. After all, it's my children's story to share, not mine. And truth be told they probably don't want to share it with random strangers either. So it happens, and I have my ways of saying nicely, Ya, we don't really want to talk about that. It doesn't really bother me. It comes with the territory of having a family that looks different.

But there's this one statement that makes me cringe.
He's so lucky to have you!
Please, for the love of all adopted children and their families everywhere, please do not say how lucky our son is. Or our daughter. Please do not say how lucky any adopted child is.
Because, putting it simply, they aren't. They aren't lucky at all. Adoption is born out of pain and loss, and because of this they are very unlucky to say the least. And at least once, and maybe more than once, they've lost everything they hold dear. Their mom and dad. Their culture. Their care givers. Their home. Their language and food and heritage. The only family they've ever known. They've been torn (usually) in an instant from everything familiar with NO say in the matter, and put under the care of strangers... forever. Sometimes they were left in boxes, all alone, sometimes in the cold, for someone to (hopefully) find them. Sometimes the only person they counted on walked away. Sometimes they were in pain or hungry... more than any child should be. Sometimes they had medical needs that didn't get addressed. Sometimes they needed someone and nobody was there. It's very possible that they were taken away on trains, buses, vans or on foot from everything they ever knew with nothing more than their DNA, name, ethnicity and the clothing on their backs. And sadly it's very likely that all this happened to them more than once.
And all of that is far from lucky.

Now if you did say it, I know you probably didn't mean it that way. I know you likely meant the way things turned out in the end after all that loss and trauma happened was lucky. But my son probably didn't hear it that way and to be frank neither did I. He heard you say (rightly or wrongly) that he's lucky to have gone through all that. And for the record it's not lucky. The end result was the result of a lot of hard and intentional work.

I love my son something fierce, and I wish more than anything that he didn't have to endure this history of trauma and loss. I wish he could have been loved on by his first mama forever and been raised in his homeland full of people that look just like him. You know, "his people." But for unknown circumstances, that didn't happen, and he wasn't. And no amount of praying or counseling can take that away. And still none of this is lucky.

So again, please don't say our son is lucky, because even though he can't articulate this, it's kinda like asking him to ignore the magnitude of what he has lost, like it just didn't matter. It's like the end justifies the means, but of course it doesn't. His losses are gigantic and do matter in the short term and the long. They affect who he is and who he is going to become. They affect the type of friend he is and the type of husband and father he is going to be. The losses affect how he sees the world and who he is within it. And I think we'd both agree that negating the past doesn't erase its consequences. That's just not helpful or fair to him.

In the end, just the opposite is so true.
We are the lucky one's that have been entrusted to raise this amazing boy, including every part of the past that has molded him into who he is, as our son. We are lucky and blessed to see him grow up into a teenager and eventually a man of his own. We are the lucky ones that get to teach him how to ride a bike and teach him how to treat a girl and drive a car. We are blessed to feel his hand in ours and take a walk by his side. We're lucky to receive a stick-figure drawing and feel the weight of his body as he falls asleep next to mine. We are so ridiculously lucky to be the ones to hug him when he scrapes a knee and be his safety net when he falls.
And we are the lucky ones that get to wipe his tears when he feels the reality of his past.


  1. I am so glad you wrote this post. It is such an important concept for people to understand. You explained it in an approachable and civil way and I hope that this gets shared both inside and outside of the adoption community.

  2. I am so glad you wrote this post. It is such an important concept for people to understand. You explained it in an approachable and civil way and I hope that this gets shared both inside and outside of the adoption community.

  3. The main reason it bothers me (Mom of 12 adopted) is bc they are saying their own biological kids deserve what they have and mind don't.

  4. Very well said.....we are the lucky one to have these special children in our lives.

  5. I agree that there are a LOT of subtle implications to the statement that children (maybe unknowingly) take it. It's a hard path to be sure.

  6. I so agree on this one....I have heard this statement so many times over the years from well meaning people. I try to gently remind them that is was not "lucky" that he lost his first family, or that I suffered with years of infertility. I would not wish it on anyone. What I do see is how God brings beauty out of our ashes and saw fit to bring us together. And for that reason I feel so very blessed. My heart will always hurt for his loss, and his first family who must grieve every day. I am overwhelmed at the magnitude of the fact that I get to fill those shoes now, and I hope and pray I do it well. Much love to you and your family Nancy. You are so very blessed!


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