Thursday, 9 April 2015

Adoption is not charity

Here's something I want you to know: when I'm out with my 21 month old please don't stop me to congratulate me, it really bothers me. 

In case you've missed it my eldest, J, is adopted. It is fairly obvious even if you've only just laid eyes on us, especially when we are out as a family. 

People stare. I don't mind that and I hope neither will J when he grows up, it's part of being different in quite a homogeneous society like the Greek one (his dad also gets stared at for being taller than normal and ginger...).

I also don't mind people asking questions, provided they are being tactful and genuinely interested. And if I nod and smile politely that means you overstepped the mark... 

But I do object to people congratulating me for my choice to adopt. Especially when this is done in front of my son. I don't deserve congratulations any more than you do for deciding to have a child. We did not adopt to save anyone, we adopted because we wanted to be parents; that's all adoption is: an alternative way to have a family. 

What hurts me and worries me more is the message that is implicitly passed onto my son. The message that he is a charity case, that we adopted him to save him and that he should somehow be grateful to us. That can't be further from the truth. If nothing else, and this is something that we should all keep in mind when talking about adoption, there are waiting times for both domestic and international adoption. Contrary to urban mythology, especially here in Greece, those waiting times are not because the state is making us wait, or keeping available kids from being adopted. The truth really is much simpler: there are more parents waiting to adopt than available children. That means that if we hadn't adopted J, someone else would have! 

I can't imagine my life without him- he has brought so much to our lives and being a mum to him is simultaneously my biggest challenge and my biggest joy. Celebrate us, our multicultural family, but please don't congratulate us. All we wanted was a child to love! 

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