My husband and I finalized the adoption of our son at the end of August. In an amazing act of God, our adoption, from start to finish, took only 5 months. As residents of Tanzania, an adoption going that quick is pretty much unheard of.
So, as you can imagine, when our adoption was finished, we were very excited to finally share it with the world through social media. We took some family photos, a first as a family of 5, and posted them a few days later alongside our big announcement. It was thrilling! And because of how social media works, we were able to reach thousands of people with the news. It’s been truly amazing.
But as we began to receive so many comments of congratulations for our newest addition, we began to notice a theme. A particular comment that was written over and over again. And though I know its intention has been meant for good, it’s left us with a weird taste in our mouths…
“What a lucky boy.”
You might be saying, “That’s not so bad.”
Or maybe you’re even thinking, “You’re overreacting. There’s nothing wrong with that comment.”
But my mama heart respectfully disagrees. Let me explain.
1.) Growing up under the care of parents is a human right, not “luck.”
All children have the right to grow up with parents. It’s not something that should just be reserved for children who come from well-off family. Just because a child is abandoned and/or orphaned does not mean that they have to forfeit their basic human right to be loved and cared for by parents. Every child deserves a family, no matter where they live in the world or what socioeconomic class they come from.
2.) “Lucky” disregards the child’s past and the hardships that they have likely lived through.
Often children who have been orphaned and/or abandoned have had hard lives. Whether they came from a tragic situation like the death of their parent(s), or have survived the traumas of an abusive institution, I don’t think that any child coming out of either of these situations would call themselves “lucky.” It’s not the case with all, but many children who have been adopted out of government systems or institutions have lived in survival mode. There’s nothing “lucky” about being taken out of these type of situations. No child should have to live this way in the first place. All children should be in loving, healthy, well-functioning families.
3.) “Luck” puts the child on a pedestal.
If there is something “lucky” about being adopted, then a child may begin to think that they are better than the children who are not adopted. Adoption should never feed into a social hierarchy of being better than others. By being the “lucky adopted child”, a child might think to put themselves above others, instead of sympathizing and having compassion for those who are still living in institutions and systems.
4.) If those who have been adopted are “lucky”, then those who have not been adopted are “unlucky”.
If a child who is adopted is “lucky”, then what does that say about those who are not adopted? Are they “unlucky”? Or has their “luck” just not come yet? It’s nonsense and is absolutely the worst way to view a child who ‘wasn’t chosen’. Every child deserves a family. Again, it’s their human right.
5.) Adoptive parents don’t decide which children are “lucky”.
Every orphaned and/or abandoned child should be adopted into a family. Adoptive parents are not Willy Wonka, sending out golden tickets, and seeing which child is going to win. We are just normal people with hearts to love and care for the ones who need it most in this world. Our decision to adopt a particular child is not based on some magical formula. For most parents I know, the decision to adopt has come with a great need for discernment and wisdom. So why are parents lead to adopt one child and not another? Only God knows. But I can guarantee it’s not because the parent(s) decided to give a child a lucky day.
6.) Adoption needs to become the norm.
Our hope is that all communities throughout the world would understand the incredible need to adopt. In the words of author and adoptive advocate Johnny Carr, “Man made orphanages for children, but God made the family for children.” Orphanages, though they fill a need in society, should never be a permanent solution for a child’s life. Adoption should never be about luck. Rather, it should be about understanding that all lives are valuable and children, in particular, have the right to thrive in the safety of a family.
So, after reflecting on all of this, what is an appropriate way of recognizing or congratulating a family who has adopted, without calling them or their child “lucky”? Here are a few suggestions:
“What a beautiful family! We are so happy for you all!”
“We are so excited to get to know your son/daughter!”
“What amazing news! We love him/her already!”
All in all, I think most adoptive parents understand that calling their child “lucky” is not meant to be offensive — in fact, I think it’s intended to be a compliment. But as adoption becomes more common and more families take on the role of bringing their sons and daughters home, it’s important for us to evaluate how we discuss adoption and understand better ways to support families who have adopted.
Have you or someone you know adopted? What are your thoughts on this topic? Feel free to comment below. Let’s discuss it!