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.