Responding to remarks

Are you ever told how lucky your child is? Or do you get those well-meant comments that actually make your blood boil? Today, our anonymous poster vents about two of those comments that he finds particularly difficult to respond to…Swearing

Just recently I was told I was doing a great job, and that as long as I love my son everything would work out just fine.

I know this person was telling me this to make me feel better on a somewhat difficult day, but it’s not unusual to hear this from non-adoptive parents, as if, somehow, enough love would wash away the past of my son, would make him forget the trauma, the pain, his birth family, his early life…

Another one is ‘he’s so lucky to have you’. Again, it’s always said with the best of intentions and people don’t think about what it actually means, because in order for my son to be adopted he had to go through some pretty awful stuff first – neglect, rejection, and had to be ripped away from all that he’d known. Indeed, I’m the lucky one, after all, I got the family that I’d always wanted, he got a new family that he’d not asked for.

I don’t want violins or sympathy, because I asked for this (although admittedly I didn’t expect it to be as hard as it is at times), but I wish people would think more about what they’re saying. I get it wrong, I say things that others might find offensive, I say things without thinking too, but the comments above are things I hear time and time again, and after a while it gets a bit much to nod politely and mutter something barely audible that *might* sound like an agreement, when in reality it’s probably something that should have lots of ****s in it.

Are there things you hear that drive you mad or you feel are inappropriate? How do you respond? Do you have something else that you find difficult and want to vent or rant about? If so, comment below or contact us.

7 thoughts on “Responding to remarks

  1. claire

    Oh I so know how this feels! The other one that gets me is the ‘all kids do that’ comment, it drives me to utter distraction, I’m so so fed up of my children’s trauma and my struggles being dismissed because ‘all kids do that’.

  2. Emma

    I completely agree! We get the “she’s so lucky to have you” all the time, and I know that what they mean is that we are nice and aren’t going to abuse her/neglect her/ignore her/not feed her etc etc. I always say “Well, we are lucky to have her” and leave it at that.

    And the “You’re doing so well” thing – particularly from people who have absolutely NO IDEA what it’s really like in any way. I don’t mind it from the SWs or other professionals involved with us or from people I know well and who have been with us along the way, they know what we’re doing and the effects of that, they can judge it from an informed position of how she used to be and how she’s developing, how we’re developing as a family. But when a total stranger or someone who doesn’t know me well says it, it feels like they’re saying is “Wow, you look like a *real* parent, even though you’ve only been doing it for a little while”. I know that probably isn’t what they mean, but all the same it scratches at me.

    And my stock response to “As long as you love them it’ll be fine” is to say “Not really, after all crack addicts love their babies. They might be inadequate parents but they love them…” and just leave it at that.

    Other inappropriate questions? So many! We get a fair bit of “Was she abused?” “What happened to her?” I normally say “I can’t tell you, that’s her private information and it’s not my story to tell”. Usually shuts them up without too much problem!

    But it astounds me that people are so NOSY and think nothing of asking deeply personal questions!

  3. lynda

    I agree with the comment “all kids do that” I had school quote this recently!
    Also I agree I am the lucky one to have my son, not the other way around.
    As a single GAY adopter the comment/assumption that annoys me the most is the one around me be unable to birth children and adoption being the only option rather than a choice.

  4. Adoption Journey Blog

    I know what you mean about the “love” comment. I just tell myself that, bless ’em, they have no idea what they’re talking about – and why would they. And then get on with my day.

    The “lucky” comment doesn’t bother me so much. Mind you I do always mentally prefix it with…”given that they’ve been through and what their future might have been in other circumstances…” which takes the sting off it a bit for me.

    If any of that sounds dismissive, it’s not. It’s about coping strategies. All parents gets crass comments from others and as adoptive parents the scope for crassness is amplified a thousand fold. I tend to ask myself, if it’s going to happen anyway how do I cope with it and how do I make sure that it doesn’t make my day any more hard than it already is?

    Sadly, there’s no shortage of well intentioned idiots and I’m determined not to let them spoil my day…

  5. Suddenly Mummy

    Yeah, I don’t mind the ‘lucky’ comments either. I don’t believe in luck and it’s not a word I use often myself, but I think when people say that, they’re really imagining what his life might have been like had he not been removed from his birth family, and comparing it with what his life will probably be like now. Of course it’s not lucky to have been born into a family that can’t care for you, can’t keep you safe and maybe even causes you serious harm, but taking into account that’s what’s happened and it can’t be changed, I’m ok with people saying he’s ‘lucky’ that it turned out as well as it did, considering what the alternatives might have been.

    What gets me more is people saying things like, “How could they do that to a child?” or “How could anybody hurt a little baby?”, referring to the birth family, and their assumptions about what might have gone on before.

    I spend a lot of time patiently unpicking preconceptions about fostering, adoptions, birth families, social services, etc. and I do try to avoid sarky responses or put-downs. I figure that most people have little/nothing to do with fostering/adoption, so why should they know about it, or know the right thing to say unless somebody takes time to enlighten them. Obviously with strangers I just let it go.

    The one time I was most tempted to get a sarky on was when I had two toddlers, very close in age, out at a restaurant. They were normally very good at restaurants, but on this occasion they had been fussing a bit, so as we paid up I went to the only other occupied table to apologise to its occupants. An elderly lady asked me how old the boys were, and when I told her (they were barely 9 months apart) she looked me up and down and then said, without a trace of humour, “Well, at least you know how you get them now.” And yes, I was bursting with a put-down that I would have delivered like a slap, but I refrained!

  6. Smiling BM

    I love you lot as a BM spying this has really made me smile!!!! Your all brilliant people and you are all doing a great job and I bet whatever anyone says to you it’ll never be right so continue with your b#*ch & moan and at risk of sounding like the OUTSIDERS ‘your doing so well and as long as you love them it’ll be fine’.

  7. Jeremy

    I try to remind myself how little I knew about adoption before I became an adoptive parent. No doubt I would have said any of those things with only the best intentions. I try my best to use these situations as teaching opportunities without making the person feel bad. After all, they don’t mean any harm, they just don’t understand, and why should they. Once I am able to explain the loss adopted children experience it opens their eyes in a way they would never otherwise view adoption. We all have such a great opportunity to educate, and so when someone says something that comes across wrong, treat it as an opportunity to give them a different point of view.


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