Welcome To My Soapbox

I was sad to realize that Steve Jobs passed away yesterday - he definitely did some very cool things for technology as we know it. I was, however, surprised and delighted to see that he had been adopted as an infant. That said, the news coverage, as well as other folks here there and everywhere have been stepping on my pet peeve rather hard and I'm going to take a moment here to educate / vent my spleen.

First, a caveat: I am not one for PC lingo. Honestly, this is not a big deal to me, in general (though I do draw a line at racial slurs, that's not PC, that's just simply being mean and ignorant). So to me, this is not a matter of being PC. It's a matter of respect - for the birth parents, the adoptee, and the adoptive parents.

Adopted kids were not "given up" for adoption. They were placed. To say a child was "given up" relegates them to the status of a toy or item of clothing that you dump in a donation bin during Lent because you're giving it up. It belittles the difficulty of the decision on the part of the amazing birth parents who chose to do it (regardless of how much choice they felt they had - even if they were coerced by their parents or society at large or whatever, this child wasn't trash that they got rid of.) It belittles the child to say that they could so easily be "given up", rather than lovingly placed in a home that could provide what the birth parents felt they could not.

Second, since I'm on my box, please remember that adopted kids (adults, teens, what have you) were adopted. They are not adopted, as if it's some kind of visible skin condition that should be whispered behind closed doors. It was a one time thing in their life. Does it have far reaching impact? Absolutely. Can it be painful? Absolutely. But it's not something that should define who they are as in, there's Jeremiah, he's adopted. That has nothing to do with the price of eggs. We don't say "There's Jeremiah, he was born to his biological parents after 12 hours of unmedicated labor." so why would we mention adoption unless it was a relevant part of the conversation?

Adoptive parents work hard to try and help their children recognize and respect their roots while instilling a sense of belonging and place within their forever family. Thoughtless language can undo that more easily than you might imagine.


April B said...

I have followed your blog from a distance for some time since following a link from the Llama Butchers (I think). That you have built your family through adoption drew me in even more. We are at the beginning of that journey ourselves (I am very excited for your second little one that is expected!).

Anyway, all that as an introduction to my comment on this post...I noticed EXACTLY the same thing when reading the news about Steve Jobs this morning. Even though we are just in the home study phase the words they used made me twitch! Thanks for raising awareness and being up the soapbox.


beth said...

Hi April! I'm glad I wasn't the only one cringing - I've been told I'm too sensitive about stuff like this :) Have fun with your homestudy - nothing says "Gosh, I can't wait to have a child" quite like filling out reams of paper. I just sent off the last bit of our renewal paperwork today - whee!