Fun for the whole family!
Picture it: You’re at the table after a holiday dinner, about to enjoy dessert. The host says, “Let’s go around the table and say one thing that we’re thankful for.”
You may have done this. It may be a tradition in your home. Here’s how it went one New Year at my adoptive grandmother’s house, decades ago:
“I’m just grateful I was adopted.”
This was said in syrupy sweet tones by a cousin of a cousin. We were young teens at the time. I’m not sure if this spoiled brat was ever actually grateful for anything but she had that line ready when it was her turn. Murmurs of approval went up all around from everyone but me.
I’m fairly certain every adoptee alive today has been challenged with the grateful line. “Aren’t you grateful?” – “Imagine the alternative.” That second one always confounded me. We weren’t supposed to be able to imagine the alternative, because our adoptions were completely closed and confidential. How could I imagine something when I have zero information about it? But it was strongly implied this alternative reality (that the other person also knew nothing about) was bad, dirty, impoverished, and shameful.
Then there’s that other alternative, that’s always kept at the ready:
“Just be thankful you weren’t aborted.” They always say this as if they were the very first person to think of it, and they are so proud of themselves. That if I had not been adopted, I would have been aborted.
I finally started replying that I was exactly as thankful for that as they were. I enjoy the stunned expression as they slowly grasp what I’m suggesting. “My mother never wanted to abort me!” – “Neither did mine.”
In case you have missed any of my other blog posts, abortion is not the flip side of adoption. They are completely unrelated. The other thing to ponder is – if adoption is so wonderful – why isn’t everyone relinquished for adoption as proof of love? If you were kept and raised by your biological parents, is that second-best? If you keep and raise your own children, do you really love them?
So let’s liven up that family holiday dinner tradition, shall we? I double-dog dare you to say:
“I’m grateful I wasn’t aborted. Thanks, Mom.”
“I’m grateful I wasn’t given up for adoption, even though I would have had a better life.”
“I’m grateful I’m not donor-conceived, so I can’t unknowingly date a sibling.”
No? Okay, maybe this is more relatable since divorce is so prevalent:
“Two Christmases, yea!”
Offensive? Good. I’m tired of being the only one at the table who’s offended, then chastised for it. Stop weaponizing adoption. Stop using the nebulous alternate reality as a vague threat to keep the adoptee in line. To those who would tell me to, “Get over it,” I say: