adoption related mushiness, adoption related seriousness

I don’t want you to be grateful: a letter from your (adoptive) mother

I wish so many things for you – the children who have my heart for all of time:

I hope that you will know how to love and be loved.

I hope that you will be happy.

I hope that you will live the life you want to have and not the life anyone, including me, dreams for you.

I hope you will be kind.

I hope you will be brave.

I hope you can view the world as it truly is and still find the strength to believe you can make it better.

And along with all those things I hope with everything in me that you take my love for granted.

People are going to tell you you’re lucky. They already have. They look at you and look at me and know I’m your adoptive mother. And they tell you you’re lucky. Don’t listen to them.

You never have to feel grateful for your adoption. We don’t have to have special gratitude for something that is inherently ours. And my love? That’s yours.  It was yours before we met. It will be yours when time is gone. It was, and is, your right to have. My love for you is something I want to be so part of your being that it doesn’t cross your mind to even contemplate its existence. Take it for granted. Assume it will always be there. Because it will.

There were losses in your lives. I know them. I respect them. My love for you does not take away those losses. But those losses don’t mean you owe us some form of special gratitude. Don’t ever believe someone who tells you they do.

I don’t need you to be grateful, I want you to know, to assume, to not even think that there was another option except me loving you. Because there wasn’t. This love? It was here waiting for you all along.

You simply claimed what was already yours.

take it for granted

PS: But if you want to feel grateful for the overpriced hot chocolate and cookies I kept buying you at Starbucks because I couldn’t resist your cute toddler voices feel free.

(And to anyone reading this please know that PS was meant to be humorous. To think that a child would actually need to be grateful for cookies and cocoa is ridiculous to me. But a comment I received made me realize that maybe for some people it’s not ridiculous to imagine that would be asked of them. And that makes me sad.)


9 thoughts on “I don’t want you to be grateful: a letter from your (adoptive) mother”

  1. Yes, yes, yes. I wish I’d never hear those words again, especially in front of my children. I hate the implication that I somehow did a noble deed by adopting them. I adopted them because I loved and wanted them! There’s nothing altruistic about it. All things you know already…

    P.S. I wish you’d write more! ❤

    1. I’m not sure if my comment will be posted, but yes, I agree with you, Kelseygolden. In my case, I know my adoption wasn’t based on altruism. It was based on selfish entitlement and racist geopolitical privilege by people who didn’t know true love or family. Not a noble deed.

      Yep, I already know my adopters aren’t angels – they never were.

      To the OP, I don’t express gratitude for things like the overpriced hot chocolate and cookies or exotic vacations that garner envy. Overpriced hot chocolate and cookies is really small potatoes compared to family and time spent with family – families that I wasn’t able to spend my childhood with; families that I’m forbidden by law to know about because of my adoption and it might hurt my adopters’ feelings; birthdays that I’m not supposed to know about or spend with my family; and families who gave me my identity, my life, my numerous qualities, good and less attractive, and my existence. They are ALL much more significant than 1000 cups of overpriced hot chocolate and cookies. True family is also all more valuable than spending time with someone who believes that hot chocolate and cookies are sublime enough to replace ME and MY connections to MY family.

      So, no, don’t hold your breath waiting for them to be grateful, even in a whispered “PS”. If they’re anything like me, it’s a huge turnoff and shows your true colors. For me, I’ve had those losses firmly imprinted BECAUSE of the permanent displacement of adoption and everyone’s pressure and insistence that I return the selfish, dislocating “love” I never sought and would send back in a heartbeat if it would give me back my family, identity, or some semblance of my heritage in exchange.

      And to think that you seek a little appreciation for hot chocolate and cookies, or think that this is all such a cute little game – sheesh. Pretty insulting actually.

      1. I’m really sorry I hurt you with my PS comment. It was sincerely meant as a silly comment because the idea that they would be grateful for something like that is just funny to me. (Because it is so absurd. Of course they don’t and won’t be grateful for that. They have no reason too.)

        I’m even more sorry that your family was withheld from you. Adoption happens for terrible reasons. It does. And it hurts innocent people. And I’m truly sorry that I caused you any pain by this post. It doesn’t really matter what my intentions were so I won’t go into them. Your points about family being important are good and true.

      2. I especially think your point about “and it might hurt my adopters’ feelings” is so, so important to be heard by adoptive parents. Because our feelings shouldn’t factor into those kinds of decisions. The child’s rights should always be first and foremost.

        I don’t know if you will believe me but this entire post is about the fact that I think the way adoptive parents (and society) tells people who were adopted they should be grateful is wrong. Terribly wrong.

  2. absolutely beautiful post I hope that you will know how much we love you four and you know how to love well. Mom and Dad

  3. I have heard this over the past 22 years, but I always reply that I am the lucky one and I am so blessed to have him in my life. I realized a long time ago that those statements reflect more about their own feelings and fears about adoption than what my child should feel about it. I also realized that my relationship with my son was solid and other people’s misguided statements could not influence our relationship. I often forget that he is adopted, and he rarely ever thinks about it.

  4. I’m hoping I did it right but I’m closing this post for comments. In my experience once a person who was adopted says something even the slightest bit negative adoptive parents tend to jump in and say things that sound dismissive of that person’s experience. Since I don’t want that to happen it seems best to close them down. Anenomekym, if you want to follow up by email please feel free and once again I am sorry for any pain that was caused by my words. I know your experience of adoption is not an uncommon one and for that I thank you and others for sharing your experience because that is the only way that we as adoptive parents can learn and grow.

    For anyone my email is and you’re welcome to write me there.

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