#47 – Excuses vs. Reasons

March 15, 2012 at 9:55 am | Posted in Adoption differences, adoption issues, Adoptive parenting do's, Raising the adopted child | Leave a comment
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I hear from adoptive parents that when they attempt to explain why their child is different, they are met with a barrage of, “Oh, every family has those differences”, or “An adoptive family is no different than other families”, or “You’re just making excuses for your child”.

With this type of response, adoptive parents learn early not to share their feelings with those who don’t understand adoption.  Actually, I find this rather ironic because we all are different, one from another.  We all have had a different background, a different family and family standards, and many issues separate us from each other.  I know when we talk to our friends or acquaintances, we often take this into consideration, knowing some will relate to what we are saying and others haven’t had enough experience in whatever we are talking about to understand.

The world often treats females differently than they treat males, famous people differently than regular people, young people differently than older people, an invalid differently than a healthy person, etc. etc.  Every day we are sensitive to whomever we become involved with and adjust accordingly, taking into consideration any differences there may be.

But, when it comes to adoptees being different than biological children, people don’t appear to give them the same thoughtfulness.  I’m not advocating wearing our issues on our sleeves, but to deny that any person may be dealing with a unique issue, personal to them, is just not logical.  However, that is too often the world we find ourselves in.

When we encounter this attitude we can become frustrated, but we can also doubt ourselves.  Are we reading too much into adoption?  Is there really that much difference?  This is a fine line and different for every one of us.

In “Insight Into Adoption” I included a handout that I used to give to adoptive parents in support groups.  I found that men who came to the groups either couldn’t, or didn’t want to, believe their child had different issues than a biological child had.  So, I started giving the following example of excuses vs. reasons.  It goes like this: A man is caught stealing a loaf of bread from a store and people are judging and condemning the thief. You say, “I understand he was unemployed and stole the bread to feed his children.”  Others will undoubtedly say that you are siding with the thief and making excuses for him.  Are you?  No.  You have not condoned his behavior.  You have given the reason for his action.  That is all you’ve done, but people jump to the conclusion that you think it’s okay for him to steal the bread to feed his children.

The above is such a simple example, but it’s what adoptive parents run up against all the time.  When we try to explain why our child is coming from a different perspective than a biological child, we are thought to be making excuses, rather than giving a reason.  I’ve found over the years that most of my closest friends are those who also have adopted children, or if they have only biological children, they are sensitive enough to realize the challenges of adoption.  These are the people we can share with who won’t judge us or our children.  They will cry with us and they will cheer with us.  They understand.

There should be no guilt in acknowledging the challenges in our adoptive families.  Some are subtle and some are blatant, but to say differences don’t exist is to deny the humanity of our children.  The personal issues which we all carry with us every day are usually private and hidden from those we encounter.  They are there nonetheless.  We don’t discuss them, but they may show up in our attitudes and behaviors.  There is always a reason why we do what we do or say what we say.  Our children deserve this same recognition – that there is a reason for their behavior.  There should be no excuses, just reasonable explanations.  That doesn’t mean we don’t deal with the underlying cause, or that we overlook it, it just means they are coming from a different perspective which should be respected, surely by us as parents and, hopefully, one day by other people as well.


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