Adoption has such a huge effect on how I see gifts now. If I am expected to be grateful for anything, I would rather not have it. I don’t want to feel in debt. I find it hard even to write the word grateful in an email. I feel both overly thankful for any offer, for any help, and yet extremely stressed out about having to pay it back.
It is profoundly disturbing to imply that adopted kids should feel lucky to be alive, which is exactly how it felt every time my grandmother (or religion teacher, or other various and sundry well-intentioned commenters) spouted off some iteration of “your birthmother chose life.”
I think a lot of adopted children feel they are Not Allowed to be angry; I think a lot of adopted adults feel, still, that we are Not Allowed to be angry. The predominant narratives of "National Adoption Month" explain why: most adoption narratives, particularly those available to children, leave no room for pain.
Last year, a couple in Florida – presumably hoping to distinguish their $45,000 adoption crowdfunding campaign from others like it – came up with a gimmick they referred to as the “Baby Draft”: If you donated, you could vote for your favorite football team, and the adopted child would be raised as a fan of whichever team got the most votes.
Years ago, two friends sat across from me at their gleaming kitchen table and asked if I thought they should adopt a child. It might seem like a strange question to ask a fresh college graduate still years away from becoming a parent herself. But this couple happened to be weighing transracial adoption, and I was the only adopted person and one of very few people of color they knew. We had recently been introduced by…