20 Alternatives to #adoptionislove

Please don’t call adoption love and then criticize adoptees who reach out for it. Here are 20 responses to practice instead.

The #adoptionislove paradigm can feel confusing, especially later on in life when the adoptee begins to ask for love in ways that feel counter to the indoctrination we receive through (for example, “what it feels like to adopt a teen”) commercials.

Love isn’t as commercial in real life. Especially for adoptees.

Instead, it might compel you to:

  1. Give access to birth records
  2. Provide or assist in acquisition of medical information
  3. Acknowledge trauma, loss, and other systemic realities
  4. Reflect frequently on your own personal biases
  5. Protect us from racist family members
  6. Commit to growth as a lifelong learner of adoption-related truths
  7. Attend to and explore your emotional/interpersonal patterns
  8. Support connections with birth family
  9. Endorse birth country travel
  10. Celebrate and stand up for racial-ethnic flourishing
  11. Respect name changes (birth name reclamation or choosing new ones)
  12. Participate in anti-racism efforts
  13. Process your experiences in formal therapy settings
  14. Cooperate with requests to annul the adoption
  15. Learn about and engage in adoptee-centered activism (before and even after an adoption annulment/emancipation)
  16. Preserve privacy by refraining from gossip
  17. Honor boundaries
  18. Look past “behaviors” and see the person beneath it
  19. Defend adoptee rights when we’re not in the room
  20. Invite more of us into the room

Institutionalized adoption programs “warn” adoptive parents about these dynamics (and more), when what we really need is for these points to be recognized as normative developmental tasks inherent to a person’s journey through (non) permanency and adoption.

Without stigma. Without pride. With patience. With kindness.

In other words, it’s normal for an adoptee to feel loved through anti-commercial means. My sense is that if you’re not willing to conform to the patterns of this world, you might be in a better position to practice the love that comes from outside of it; something we could all benefit from together. Would it be unlovable to ask for that?


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  1. Cam Addresses Adoption Trauma on CBS News
  2. 10 Facts about Adoptees
  3. Currently accepting speaking requests for Summer and Fall 2023
  4. An Ethos for Adoptee Speakers
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