Thursday, December 30, 2010

Anti-pity party

So. I was recently skimming through a Christian ‘guide to life’ that a cousin gave me for Christmas and it has me a little less than enlightened. One section of the book discusses infertility and brings up adoption as a possibility for couples which is fine by me except that the book takes the stance of referring to adoptees collectively as orphans. A few lines in particular struck me: “We know that God is very concerned for the orphans. Whether a Christian couple decides to pursue adoption or not, it is clear we have a biblical mandate to care for those without family.” Hmm. Last time I checked, many adoptees have living biological relatives. It’s not like we were just dropped from the sky. We came from somewhere, from someone. I know the term ‘orphan’ does not mean the same thing to everyone, but it seems to have a largely negative connotation to me. For me, it’s a very vulnerable and pitiful-seeming word. Thank goodness no one, to my knowledge, has ever called me an orphan. My reaction would NOT be pretty.

I refuse to be viewed as a charity case simply because I am adopted. Unfortunately, I know that there are others out there who believe differently. I will never forget telling a girl in middle school that I was adopted and watching her face contort in sadness. She said, “Omigosh, I’m so sorry!” You’d think I just told her my dog got run over by a car. Really? Even if her reaction was genuine, it irritated the heck out of me. Being an adoptee is NOT a deficit! It’s simply a part of who we are. Owning up to this identity comes with challenges and baggage, but who doesn’t have challenges and baggage? The thing about pity is that it blinds us. If we pity others, we focus on weakness and fail to see the inherent strengths which all individuals possess. If I pity myself, what kind of person do I see when I look in the mirror? I have always had a strong adverse reaction to pity and nowadays I suspect that being an adoptee plays at least some part in that.


  1. Oh boy do I have a love/hate relationship with the topic of religion & adoption. Adoption should never be done as a condition of being a good Christian/Jew/fill in the blank, and it scares me when it's encouraged in that manner. You are spot on when you say that pity blinds people to the strengths gained from any adversity. Wise beyond your years!

  2. Love this and feel the same.

    "Being an adoptee is NOT a deficit! It’s simply a part of who we are. Owning up to this identity comes with challenges and baggage, but who doesn’t have challenges and baggage?"

    I get queasy and run for the hills when religion is brought up in the topic of adoption. To be honest, religion combined with several topics turns me right off.

  3. Same here. I'm a Christian adoptive parent who adopted because I wanted to. I hate the religious movement right now that is focusing on the 147 million "orphans" out there. It's not that I'm an uncaring person; it's that I would venture to say that the majority of those 147 million aren't truly orphans. I find it incredible that we, as Americans, would rather take these kids into our home because we can give them a "better" life instead of doing what we can to keep families together. Who says life in America is "better"? Obviously I do think we we're supposed to help others. I'm just not sure the ways we've developed to "help" are the best ones.