I wasn’t adopted. I love my parents, but I didn’t consciously feel lucky for the family that I had. I didn’t feel particularly thankful that they loved me and took care of me. I just thought it was normal. I think that is how most kids are, until they reach some point in adulthood. So when I hear things these said in front of children who were adopted, it makes me sad.
“She’s so lucky to have you become her parents!”
“Thank God you stepped in to help her! She is so lucky.”
“What a lucky girl to get to live with you!”
“You saved her!”
I can’t imagine people saying those things about me when I was a kid. I think I would have thought “Do I not deserve a normal family? Lots of other kids have families like mine and aren’t told they are lucky or were ‘saved’. What is wrong with me that makes it extraordinary that I have a normal family?”
It is a beautiful act of love to adopt a child. I don’t mean to discredit that at all. I think it’s wonderful to express to adoptive parents how you support their decision. Though I think suggesting that they ‘saved’ a child is still unfortunate wording, at minimum. Most people adopt because they are eager to get a chance to love and raise a child. Adoption is a gift for the family that adopts, so viewing it as a ‘rescue’ kind of makes it seem like a one-sided, altruistic act which is just not the case.
My other reasoning is, it’s important to consider that adoption is caused by loss. Some children are put up for adoption at birth because the parents are too young or unprepared to parent. Others are taken through programs like child protective services because the parents are unwell or are otherwise unable to provide suitable care. Sometimes the parents have passed away. In every single case, the child has to come to terms with the fact that they were not raised by their biological parents – for whatever reason. They have to find a way to accept that they missed out on having a deeper or more complex relationship with their biological parents. That is loss.
When saying to an adopted child that they are ‘lucky’, it seems to ignore the fact that they are rather ordinary in being provided with a loving home, and it ignores the fact that they experienced a loss.
If you are looking for alternative ways to support the family, my suggestions are to express your own feelings. Are you so thankful that you get to have a relationship with the child? How about “I’m so thankful that you live with (parents) and that I get to be part of your life!”. If you feel warm and fuzzy because you are seeing the bond between the parent and child, express that! “It’s so nice to see you laugh and play with each other! It makes my heart smile.”
If you have experience with adoption I’d love to hear your thoughts on the “You are so lucky!” comments in my comment section.