When do we just call them children?

Wed, June 21, 2006


In a posting today about Nicole Kidman‘s upcoming wedding, the story mentioned that Kidman’s two “adopted children” would be attending the nuptials.

As an adoptive mother, this drives me crazy. I never refer to my daughter as my “adopted” daughter. She is my daughter … period, regardless of whether I gave birth to her or not. It is a quandary to me why we as a society insist on making this distinction about families and categorizing chlidren by how they joined a family. When writers point out that a family has been formed by adoption, we should ask ourselves, ‘why are they doing it?’ If it’s in the context of a story that someone has just added a child to their family by adoption, that is legitimate. But when a story identifies Kidman’s children, ages 11 and 13, as her “adopted children,’” what point is being made? They’ve been her children since they were infants, so why not identify them merely as “her children?”

The only point I can imagine that’s being made is that many still believe that children who have been adopted aren’t really a part of someone’s family. It starts when children ask a playmate on the playground, “But who is your real mother?” Notwithstanding all our explanations and gentle tutorials that we are real families just like any other, most of society today still doesn’t accept that. Even in my own family, backhanded comments are still made that suggest that certain relatives don’t, and probably won’t ever, view our daughter as our “real” daughter or a part of the “real” family.

For parents who endure endless fertility treatments to conceive and then have a bio child, their children are not referred to as “fertility-drug children,” and even if they were, describing them as that would surely cease soon after their birth. Until the press, and our society as a whole, stop making our families something to be distinguished from other families, our children will always struggle to view themselves as “real.”

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One Response to “When do we just call them children?”

  1. Anonymous Says:

    I was raised adotpted and it is different. Aunts, uncles, and even cousins treat you as different. Not with unkindness, just a little more distance then the others and you are left with no doubt that you’re different.

    Bad Pun Dad

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