28 november 2018
This is one of those things that often gets said to adoptees that is typically well intentioned but often does more harm than good. I’ve never considered myself lucky at least in the way that the person saying this means. I consider myself “lucky” in the same way that anyone is lucky to be born into a loving, ‘good’ family. I do not consider myself “lucky” to be adopted. I would say I am fortunate to, as the universe would have it, be picked from the lot of us; I consider myself fortunate to have been placed (at random) with a loving and caring woman who had prepared to have a child and raise her well. I consider myself fortunate to have the universe pair us together and make us a family but I wouldn’t use the word “lucky.” Partly this is because usually what follows that sentence, (“You’re adopted? You’re so lucky.” or when I was a kid especially being talked down to, “Oh well aren’t you so lucky, welcome to America.” *pinch cheeks*) is “You should be so grateful.” Both of these, as I’ve grown up, have only become more complicated and loaded words for me and my story and understanding myself and where I come from. To me, it’s a framing from someone else that puts me in this little box. I am grateful but again not in the outside persons sense of it. I didn’t chose to be adopted. I didn’t chose to be separated/abandoned/given up/left by my birth parents. I didn’t chose to leave China. So to say I should be grateful, doesn’t sit right.
The word “lucky” also tends to add to this rosy-painted picture, that adoption is one big happy fairytale. It shines the (typically white) savior light on the adoptive parents “saving” their (typically brown) adopted child. It tends to minimize the more difficult feelings and processing that come with understanding your story as an adoptee.
This rant has started to spill into other things so I’ll cut it here but all this to say, please be mindful that adoption isn’t a one sided coin, or a one-sided story. The language of adoption is also something worth considering as much of the terminology and associations commonly said aren’t from or take into account the point of view of the adoptee especially as an adult.