Dear Adoption, I Am Thankful. Please Don’t Impose Gratitude On Me
Last week on Thanksgiving it happened again, as it always does.
The imposition of gratitude.
Here is a sampling of some statements I’ve been on the receiving end of over the course of my life (especially around Thanksgiving):
“Well you must be extra thankful…Just think of where you could be…Aren’t you so grateful you were rescued?…You have an awful lot to be thankful for!…”
And the truth is, I am thankful. But why must gratitude be imposed on me? I’m about an average amount of thankful, I’d say. As thankful as the next guy who is healthy and alive. Yet, so many are willing to inform me of how I ought to be exceptionally grateful. You know, because I’m adopted. Because I was saved from an inferior life in some other God forsaken country. Because I was given opportunity, love, and safety which everyone assumes I would never have had with my biological family in my birth country.
This is something many adoptees face. The imposition of gratitude is a rude overstepping of bounds, in my opinion. If you’ve not experienced this it may seem as if I’m overreacting but I assure you, I don’t need gratitude assistance and having gratitude imposed on me so frequently is annoying.
Many will read this and think I don’t sound grateful at all; that I sound bitter and closed off. I assure you, that isn’t the truth. I’m thankful for my life. I’m even thankful to have been adopted but I will never conclude, with any amount of certainty, that my life is better and that I am indebted to life more than anyone else.
The only thing I’m certain of is the loss I’ve experienced in my life. Sure, adoptees should be thankful. But not more so than anyone else. We should be thankful on a basic human level and that obviously applies to us all. Some adoptees may be extra grateful but let each person come to that conclusion on their own. Adoptees carry around a great deal of loss. And what’s worse, is our loss cannot be measured because it’s a whole lot of unknown. We cannot be expected to also carry extra gratitude just for you.
I’m thankful for this life but no one can say I wouldn’t have been thankful for the other life; the life from which many assume I was saved. I may not have been saved from anything. My life may have been different but no one knows if that different is better or worse. In fact, I may have just had more taken from me than anyone (besides a fellow adoptee) can imagine. I can live with that. I do live with that.
Please, stop imposing gratitude on me. Your imposed gratitude is another burden heaped on my heavy shoulders and, frankly, it makes it more difficult to live with the loss and move forward through each day as an adoptee. Perhaps even, the imposition of gratitude doesn’t remind me to be thankful. Perhaps it makes me less thankful because it magnifies the loss.