Friday, June 03, 2005

Not to Be Ungrateful or Anything...

As you know, I have done a few posts on the ridiculous things people say to you when you adopt/adopt internationally. I had no idea that those posts would be simply one or two in a year-long series. I had no idea at the time that I would stop being offended by them and just start finding them hilariously long as my child doesn't hear or see them.

So--you knew another post was coming, didn't you? ;)

Tell me, friends. When someone tells you they are engaged, would you:

A) Say congratulations and wish them the best
B) Get them a book detailing that 50% of marriages end in divorce, with an enclosed gift certificate to marriage counseling--you know, just in case things go badly.

Or let's say someone moved into a new home. Would you:

A) Say congratulations and joke about when their housewarming party might be
B) Get them a book on dry rot, termites, home invasions by armed intruders, and why it's a waste of money to give up your rental property

Heck, let's do one more.

If someone told you they were pregnant, would you:

A) Say congratulations and ask when the due date is and where are they registered
B) Buy them a book on birth defects, pre-eclampsia, maternal or child death during labor, and signs of autism in early childhood

Oh dear. Such a difficult choice between all the As and all the Bs, right?

So tell me why, when someone has adopted, someone thinks a thoughtful, appropriate gift is a book on Meeting The Challenges of Adoption, which details (I kid you not) how to work with an adopted child who has attempted suicide, among other heartwarming nuggets. Forget that the book isn't even about the international adoption of infants but rather the domestic adoption of troubled children. Forget that the book itself is appalling in its use of the cheeseball term "forever family" as a way to somehow assure the child that you won't leave them. Gee, in my house, that word was just "family," how about in yours? The word "family" alone says, "you are so freakin stuck with us, kiddo." Why add "forever" to it? So you can remind the child that they are not simply "family?"

I could go on and on, but I am too busy laughing M.A.O. I was kind of annoyed when I first saw the "gift" but began to laugh out loud as I read through it, realizing that the givers truly, seriously thought that this would be a helpful present. And being that clueless is truly a reason to laugh long and loud and publicly. After all, I want my daughter to know that she is just a member of a regular old family, which means that someone has to be a little eccentric and embarrassing to her. Might as well be me...


kingoftherabbits said...

Recently, I tried adopting a dog through a range of different organizations (that go to great lengths to do background checks on your history of dog abuse) and they all use that expression "forever family" which makes it even more rankling to see it about people. Like duh, you went to ALL that work to make a family, and you're just going to quit? It's not like there aren't people who try to get rid of the children they've actually given birth to also. Funnily enough, I don't endorse that either.

But if the chihuahua isn't housebroken in another two weeks, she's a goner.

misterfed said...

I find "forever family" a little too cloying as well. But I see it as a part of a generally positive effort to use positive language about adoption -- birth or bio family instead of "real" family, etc. So I let it slide, but don't use it myself.

Giving the book is pretty pushy, though. We didn't get that, though we got plenty of worried questions about how we would know the kids didn't have serious medical or mental problems. Because, you know, you KNOW all that about kids you give birth to automatically; it shows up on a post-sex data readout displayed on the woman's forehead. We also got our fair share of adoption horror stories, along with the typical assurances that we would get pregnant and have "our own" children as soon as we adopted.

RushOHannity said...

Hi… Long time reader first time commenter…

First of all, mega-dittos on this particular post, but I will have to take extreme issue with your politics and plan to let you know on future, or previous posts.

Happy reading!

SquareSlant said...

I think you are missing something valuable that these dear people gave you. Please take another gander at it. As you pick it up…notice the weight, the bulk and the aerodynamics. This “gift” is perfect hurling into the heads of those “well-meaning” morons!

I think a nice thank-you note is in order.

Raine said...

When a friend cluelessly gives you a book that you find offensive or awkward, do you:

A) Accept the gift, choke back your confusion and anger, and use it as a prop for that table that always seems to wobble, no matter how many socks you put under it?


B) Promptly spirit the book home, read it once, and then bundle it in newsprint and bubble wrap and wrapping paper as an elaborate gift to return to said friend's children when they are old enough to question their parent's affection for them?

I know, I'm cruel, but some people really need to learn how to think about what they're doing. Everything looks good when it's right in front of you, but think ahead. That string, steak knife, and electric can-opener might not be such a good idea after all.

E said...

Just wrote the Thank You note, after much consternation and perplexation (I've just made that word up. Kinda like Spiro Agnew's "nattering nabobs of negativism" nugget, only less good). The issue was how to say "thank you because I'm polite" without saying "thank you because it was so nice of you to assume my kid is damaged and to get me a book on fixing her and then call it a gift."

Basically said, "thank you for thinking of us; can't wait for you to meet this wonderful, funny, inquisitive, amazing little girl" and did not mention the gift by name.

I managed to stop myself from signing off with, "Now kiss off, you clueless dolts" instead of "warmly." That's because I am a biological child and therefore, obviously, clearly, by definition, well-adjusted and properly socialized...