Luck

I’ve dealt with many a comment in my time as an adoptive parent, from

“Wow, doesn’t he look like his dad…er…I mean your husband”

to

“So which one of you is it then? Who can’t have children?”

to

“Poor thing, was his mother a druggy/alcoholic/rape victim?”

depression

I have a number of stock replies now. I use these opportunities to educate, with humour, a direct approach, rudeness and/or sarcasm where needed. Most comments are well-meaning I know, but despite the intention, they are still ignorant and hurtful.

But now the one I need your help with is the ‘Isn’t he lucky to have you as his parents’ comment. And those that are similar, usually using the word ‘luck’ in the sentence.

How do you respond to that? Because, no matter how I respond I usually end up with a snappy “well you know what I mean” or find myself faced with a backside storming off – clearly the owner of said backside has been offended. My response is dependent on my mood, but usually includes “well, I’m not sure he’s lucky, after all, he had to endure rather a lot before he came to us and I’m sure he’d have rather stayed with his birth parents, but yes, at least he’s no longer in care”. What would you say?

These days, I’m not so worried about offending, and more worried about protecting my child, but still if I could think of a gentler way of getting this message across, I’d rather use that than upset.

15 thoughts on “Luck

  1. Debbie

    I had ” oh you are so good treating her the same as your other 2 “our birth children. This was purely from a practical basis, uniform, trips equipment etc, like she was second hand. It’s really hard knowing how to respond to someone so dim witted, I just said ” why wouldn’t I ?” Fire a question back if you can!! Give them something to think about. Like you say luck doesn’t come I to it what these children have endured. If had anything to do with it this is my opinion and only mine certain women and not all after the first is removed should be sterilised but they can’t be because of their human rights. In our case 1 current adoption breakdown after 8 years and 2 other children in care with no view to being adopted as they are so traumatised and comeback on the birth mother with another 15 years potentially of childbearing to go ? Nothing, no charge at all, it makes me spit.
    I wish you all the luck in the world and write down some witty ditties for response or just say ” are you really that stupid”. Xxx

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  2. Plumstickle

    I agree, It is a very annoying comment. I think you are saying all the right things. If people get offended then they clearly aren’t ready to understand (strike them off your support network for the time being!). How about smiling and saying “Is he? He’s had a lot to deal with and he didn’t deserve any of it.” But don’t worry about it too much. I’m sure you have plenty to deal with elsewhere!

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  3. Karen

    I get this a lot and my response is that we are the lucky ones to have such great kids. And leave it at that. The comment that most irked me was when someone said, on finding out that we had adopted our family, “I always said you were such a good mum but now I know they are adopted…..” Aaargh!

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    1. Scott, London

      I have heard this a lot too; we have different responses. Like the original poster, my responses vary depending on my mood, stress level and whether the children are present!

      Reply
  4. Helen Oakwater

    My strategy has been to say something like. “Its not appropriate to share the childrens private details and history; however like all children adopted from the care system they had a very difficult and painful start in life. We are all living with that legacy. Its why their behaviour may sometimes seems “odd” to you. I can point you to some websites/books/articles if you want to know more”.
    Work out in advance a few stock phrases.
    I also think distinguishing between “private” and “secret” is helpful.
    You also need to prepare your children for inquisitive adults and children. Younger children frequently ‘overshare’ not realising this information can be used against them later. A few stock phrases are empowering for them. Maybe “Yes I’m adopted. Its private. If you want to know more please talk to my Mum”.
    Maybe a simple diagram e.g. a circle, inside it the private information, outside what its ok to share. Thats a physical and visual representation of boundaries and the principles.

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  5. tasocial Post author

    I can handle all the other odd, rude, insensitive and so on questions/comments that we get, but I too struggle with the lucky one.

    Like Karen, I use the ‘we’re the lucky ones, we got the family we wanted’ and try to leave it at that. If they persist, then I tend to remind them that enduring trauma of any kind is not lucky. If they’re so insensitive that they can’t get it and back off, then it’s not worth explaining anymore anyway.

    Good luck, Vicki x

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  6. Scott

    Quite new to adoption and have had variations of the Isn’t she lucky to have you as her parents a few times. I just try and be light and cheery in response. The person making the comment ins’t trying to cause offence, I may well have made the same comment to someone before I went through the process and discovered more about adoption. Just because someone doesn’t have my knowledge of the subject I shouldn’t just be an arse to them for being insensitive when they don’t realise they’re being so. So, I agree with @tasocial I just say we’re the lucky one’s and then if a future response is needed I’ll say I know you meant it well, but her having to be taken away from birth parents and siblings was, as you can image, not luck, but actually very sad, and something that she’ll have to live with and cope with her whole life. But yes, that sadness has brought joy into our lives.

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  7. Kosjanka

    I tend to say something like ‘Thanks for the sentiment. Yes, I’m glad they are no longer in foster care, but I don’t think I’d use the word ‘lucky’. I’m sorry they needed to be adopted, but I’m glad I’m able to support them whilst they try and make sense of what’s happened to them so far’. I try and remember they mean well when they say it – probably looking for something ‘positive’ to say but if they don’t get the message when they’ve been gently prodded to consider their language, I’ll back off and add them to my list of ‘people not to talk to about adoption’ (It’s getting longer!). Also echo the ‘I’m the lucky one’ – Although I don’t always feel ‘lucky’ on the bad days!

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  8. Fiona Rowe

    I’m a 54year old woman who was adopted at two and a half years old, I was raised in a home where other short/long term foster children came, and my parents adopted my younger brother(not my blood brother) they had two older sons. I’ve experienced years of intrusive comments mostly because people are curious, nosey or have an opinion! I struggled with ‘lucky’ too ! I had it so much that I named my dog Lucky!
    In the 60s my parents fostered children from ‘ethnic’ groups, racist comments were especially hurtful , my parents were polite and patient with most people who would ask the most personal invasive questions, considering some were casual acquaintances or complete strangers!
    Sometimes I wanted to scream ‘None of your business!’ My younger brother would not answer any questions ! There will be days and people who will always push the boundaries on privacy, it was confusing and upsetting when, as a child, people asked about my blood parents things like ‘Do you know your real Mum and Dad?’ When, as a seven year old you wanted just to skip, play in the park etc, they did not think or wanted any snippet of gossipable information ‘Don’t tell them anything’ my brain sometimes said ‘No!’

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  9. Fiona Rowe

    I also have just read all the other comments , and they’re all so true! Firing questions back at people is a good response as it makes them think, Helen Oakwater’s comment is so true, often people(and use their children) just want information so it can be used against you, the adoptee and adopter!
    Its good to raise the bar and proceed from the heart as only love, tolerance, understanding and tons of patience will stamp out intolerance, hate and ignorance.

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  10. Meggy

    I’ve had the ‘lucky’ comment a few times from friends, and I know what they really mean is ‘Aren’t they lucky that now something positive has happened to them after the mess of their early lives. Lucky that they were not exposed to the risks, insecurity and traumas that they would have experienced if they had been with their birth family.’ I agree with that, although obviously if you believe in luck they also terribly unlucky. And I take it as a compliment when people say that they are lucky to have us as parents. I agree that it is hard to find an appropriate response sometimes. I usually say ‘Thanks’ and change the subject!

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  11. Megan Elford

    We haven’t adopted yet, but I think my response would be to deflect the comment. In response to “Isn’t he lucky to be with you now?”, I’d likely say something like “We are so blessed to have him in our lives. He has taught us so much, is such a wonderful kid, etc., etc.”.
    I think people genuinely want to express gratitude on either the child’s behalf or on society’s behalf, and their comments come from a good place. People have always been gracious with me when I’ve misspoke or said something ill-informed or even ignorant. I hope to do the same for others 🙂

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  12. jms

    I always say “no… I’m the lucky one”

    When I’m told he’s lucky to have me, I realize and understand it’s coming from a good intention. I’m not going to try and argue, educate, or correct. Instead I just tell them the truth, because I am lucky and blessed to be his mummy.

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  13. Shelley

    My usual response to a ‘lucky’ comment is this:

    “Actually, I am the lucky one. I have been blessed with an amazing son and get to be his mom.”

    My favorite awkward question is ‘so are any of your kids ‘yours’?’ Or some version of that. My favorite because I love responding, “They are ALL my kids.” Usually accompanied by a huge smile and no further explanation.

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  14. The Giggles Family

    I always use the “no we are the lucky ones” line.

    The other day a family member, well meaningly” said to him “your starting to look like our family. That’s what we like”. He’s too little to understand but it shocked me to think how awful that statement could be in the future. I replied “you look like you, that’s what we love”. Awkward though!

    Reply

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