Tuesday, September 27, 2005

What an Unlucky Girl!

A friend and I were discussing the annoying habit of many people who say, "What a lucky girl!" when they find out our daughters are adopted rather than the joyous offspring of a torrid summer fling with a hottie Chinese guy.

We decided over dinner that we should start telling people how UNlucky their child is to be in their family. I mean, if it's not offensive to imply that a child is a charity case who was lucky enough to be fortunate enough to be adopted by my random self, then surely it isn't rude to imply the latter, that gee, I bet she's gonna rue the day she was born to you schmucks!

Case in point: Baby Spears Federline. Britney and Kevin's spawn. Surely this child is, by anyone's standards, prodigiously unfortunate and unlucky in the extreme. Why does no one say this to Brit and Kev?

Or how about Courtney Love and Kurt Cobain's daughter? Drug addicts for parents? Even rich ones? You just don't get unluckier than that.

Billy Joel's daughter Alexa. Your dad is married to a woman one year older than you. Gee, THAT's not creepy, is it?! And your mom is on her, what?, fifth marriage?! Good luck, sweetie. We are pulling for you, big time.

Mary Cheney. 'Nuff said.

The list goes on and on, and includes some non-famous people that I just cannot wait to tell me my daughter is "so fortunate." Of course, because my mom would kill me otherwise, my response will be something like, "ALL kids are lucky to have good parents who have good manners, aren't they?"


Anonymous said...

I love reading your little snippets of life posts...but do you think you may be getting a bit hypersensitive on the adoption issue?

Anonymous said...

I had never thought that saying that someone's adopted baby was "lucky" would ever be seen as an insensitive thing to say... And when my husband and I had our "own" children (it's in a joking tone! Don't get mad at me please!), we had tons of baby congrats saying that our little girls were "lucky" to have us as parents.

My sister & her husband adopted a little girl from Guatemala and I did comment on how lucky her baby was to have been saved from a probably poorer life. My sister replied that she felt that the baby had also saved her life, as she desperately wanted to be a mom and was unable to have her "own". So I think she was uncomfortable with the comment as well.

Anonymous said...

The correct terminology is "biological". Please understand that adopted children are our own, every bit as much as a biological child is. And I have to agree with E as an adoptive mom myself, it's not being hypersensitive. What happens when our children are old enough to understand the comments that people make? One day she might not feel so lucky that her birth mom wasn't able to parent her and that can bring grief and heart ache, no matter how much we love them.

E said...

Yeah, I don't think I'm being hypersensitive at all. The way I look at it, if someone says something to me as a mother that they would not also say to someone who had given birth to their child, then I find it annoying. And the third poster is right; my concern is less about my little feelings and more about making people aware of what they are saying before they say it in front of my three year old who understands what they mean when they say "where is her REAL mom?" etc. I do have friends who tell people their bio kids are lucky; those aren't the people I'm talking about; they are my friends and I know what they mean--they are complimenting me. It's the random people in the park who feel compelled to comment on your life and to pontificate on how grateful your kids should be that I'm talking about. It's like anything else: you know when someone is being well-meaning and when they are being ignorant. I'm talking about the latter.

And FYI, as well-meaning as it is, "s/he is so lucky" is the Number One Most Irritating Comment Said to Adoptive Parents. Ask any parent who has adopted. It is the one comment that every single one of us gets ad nauseum and that just makes you cringe every time, specifically because it singles your kid out as somehow being different from any child in the world who is lucky to have good parents, however they joined the family. We travelled with a family who had both bio and adopted kids, and they said, "NO ONE ever told us our bio daughter was lucky, but its literally the first thing they say when they meet our adopted daughter."

I guess it's like anything: sensitivity is in the eye of the beholder. A construction worker yelling at me to sit on his face might think I'm hypersensitive if I'm offended by such an openly gross comment; does the fact that he sees no issue with it--and thinks I'm hypersensitive--make the comment any more appropriate?

Ed said...

I guess it's like anything: sensitivity is in the eye of the beholder. A construction worker yelling at me to sit on his face might think I'm hypersensitive if I'm offended by such an openly gross comment; does the fact that he sees no issue with it--and thinks I'm hypersensitive--make the comment any more appropriate?

Uh, is this a trick question?

Anonymous said...

I'm with E on this one. As the thirtysomething child of parents who adopted me, I can speak to the feelings comments such as "real" mom and "so lucky" create in a child. My brother and I were excellent students throughout high school, and I cannot tell you the number of times people would tell my parents that we were good kids because we were "grateful" unlike bio kids. I felt like I could cure f*cking cancer, and someone would say, "well, you know, she works so hard because she knows she's so lucky." What it does is negate my accomplishments, negate my parents' love for me as if it is not love but charity, and it pisses me off. I am proud to be adopted, but for god's sake, does it have to be the first and last thing anyone says about me? Adopted is not who I am. It's just how I got to my family. Comments such as "she is so lucky" simply announce the commenter's discomfort with adoption, rather than my "hypersensitivity" (thank you, anonymous) announcing MY discomfort with it.

IMHO, btw, telling someone their kid is "lucky" to be saved from their "poorer life" is an editorial comment that doesn't belong in new baby congratulations.

misterfed said...

I usually respond to the "they're so lucky" comments with a fixed smile and a "we feel like we are the lucky ones." And we do -- we feel extraordinarily fortunate to be given such gifts. With transracial adoption, the "lucky" comments dredge up nasty undertones of the fortunate taking up the white man's burden to save the little brown/yellow/black ones from their terrible squalor. We've worked hard to pick a program that isn't like that and don't care for the implications. People mean well (usually) but it grates. Plus God knows it isn't like we are perfect parents.