Are My Adopted Kids Lucky?

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My children are adopted from China. Sometimes people stare at us. I like to think this is because we’re a nice-looking family but it’s probably because people notice my husband and I are…well, not Chinese. I usually don’t like the attention, but I kind of understand it. We look a little different and we stand out. People are curious about how we became a family.

A version of this post was originally published on Mamalode in 2015.

Sometimes this curiosity brings negativity. Often, questions and comments about our family feel nosy or ignorant. One comment that I’ve always disliked is “They’re so lucky.” I especially dislike the “so lucky” line when someone says this in front of my children.

My husband and I don’t see adopting our boys as a good deed and we certainly don’t want our children to be placed in the position where they’re encouraged to see it this way, either. While I can list 101 reasons they are lucky to have such a cool mom (I’m only kidding a little bit) it makes me sad when we say a child is lucky because they have a family, food in their bellies and someone to kiss them goodnight.  I don’t want my boys to grow up believing they should be grateful that their mother and father love them.

When we were in China for Kyle’s adoption in 2013 – you can read more about our family’s adoption story here – I met a Chinese man who congratulated me on giving my kids a home. This made me feel awkward. I didn’t want accolades for being a mom. But what he said next was not awkward: “Your love has changed these children’s destiny.”

These were powerful words and true ones. The man who said these words to me has probably long forgotten them. He probably has no idea what an impact his statement has had on me.

The other side of this coin is that loving these children has changed my destiny. I understand where people are coming from when “so lucky” comes out of their mouth, although I wish they wouldn’t say that.  

Are my adopted kids lucky?  Maybe. Am I lucky? Absolutely.

It’s complicated.

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20 Comments

  1. Oh yes I am so with you on this. The “lucky” comments are one of the worst. I never know how to reply, do I comment that I’m the lucky one? Do I just smile and let it slide on by? Do I begin a rant on how being born to a mother who can’t care for you is not what one usually calls “lucky”? Awkwardness.

  2. Yes! Just yesterday, I was having a conversation with my children’s therapist. She said they were “lucky,” but her context was specifically about me wanting to help them feel safe. At the same time, you could tell both of us were uncomfortable because the word “lucky” is so often used to describe “lucky to be adopted.” Thankfully, I know her well enough that neither of us had to bring up the “lucky to be adopted” thing and discuss it. Each time I hear it, I get caught off guard.

  3. I can totally relate to this post! People often tell us our youngest 2 boys are so fortunate to be in our family. I do take it as a compliment because I understand what people mean, but I usually reply, “We are the blessed ones.” It’s a tough thing because people don’t say that type of thing about our bio kids.

  4. Sometimes I think it’s hard to know what to say. I would assume that most people who say those things are trying to be positive and just not quite making it. I’ve never thought to say that adopted kids are lucky, but I have heard it said to some adoptive parents. Your perspective gives me something to think about.

    1. I always think I am lucky…and truthfully, I think my kids probably are, too. It just gets weird when people say it in front of them.

  5. I too get the “lucky” comment with my 2 Chinese children. I always reply, “Goodness, I think I’m the lucky one — God gave us 2 amazing children to love…and they are so much better than my bio would be! I know, because I look at my nieces and nephews…” And they will usually laugh it off with me.

    I think most people don’t really think before they say that comment…as is typical with most “adoption” comments…especially here in our small town, there are not many people of any color (white is the predominant skin tone), so our family is noticed.

    But as you say…it’s complicated. Thanks for the conversation about this topic. Awareness is so important.

  6. My African American daughter is obviously disabled and obviously not my bio child. I hear this “lucky” comment all too often, usually right after I am asked if I adopted her. Ugh. I always reply, “Ummm, actually, WE are the lucky ones. The first two years of her life were very UNlucky, which is how she ended up with us.”

  7. My husband and I adopted our son 10.5 years ago. I always loved the “motto” of our agency. “Adopted children aren’t better off or worse off, they are just where they are supposed to be”. I have always found great comfort in those words.

    1. “Adopted children aren’t better off or worse off, they are just where they are supposed to be.” – I really like that statement. It is very comforting.

  8. My daughter is adopted from China and yes that “lucky” comment makes me cringe. I didn’t rescue anyone, I wanted to be a Mom. I often reply that no I’m lucky.

    Still hate that comment, although I know that people mean well.

  9. My daughter is also adopted and yes I too hate the “she’s so lucky” comments. As a new and inexperienced mum I found I couldn’t ask for help or advice ad people expected me to be some kind of “super mum” and treated me differently, as though the same rules of new found motherhood didn’t apply because my daughter was adopted. I’m sure I experienced all the “normal” feelings and emotions birth mums feel just without having to deal with stitches and sore breasts!!!

  10. “Your love has changed these children’s destiny.” Those are powerful words indeed. I would have started crying when he said that. I get emotional that way. I have two boys whom we adopted as infants and am passionate about adoption. I get so frustrated when people make ignorant statements regarding adoption. Sometimes I take the time to educate them and other times I let it slide, but usually kick myself later for it. I never want my boys to think they are “lucky” and that we “rescued” them. I am the lucky one to have them in my life. Without them I’d never have the opportunity to be a mother and experience the joys of children. I am lucky that two young women believed in me enough to place their babies with me to raise forever. Your post brought up so many emotions for me that I could go on for days. Looks like I’ll be working on a new blog post now. Thanks for the inspiration! 🙂

  11. We adopted our daughter after she was placed first as a foster child at birth. Whenever anyone has commenting along the lines of her being “lucky” I always respond, “A child blesses the home, the home doesn’t bless the child.” I feel this addresses the fact that ALL children, whether biological, foster, adopted, or step, are a gift and a blessing to the family ‘lucky’ enough to parent them.

  12. A random sperm and basically a random egg meet. If people had sex an hour before the sperm could have, would have been different and maybe the egg. So we are all lucky to be on earth. She says being the most pro-choice person she knows.

    I’m an adult adoptee. Growing up I had two friends who were adopted from the same agency. I marveled at how suited we were for our families. Really a random social worker (obsessed with the word “random”) decided who would be with which family.

    So in a less dramatic way this one woman decided our destinies. I have always felt a bit beholden to her–a woman I don’t remember meeting, and after I met my birth mother I wanted to begin believing in God so I could than a deity she had me and gave me up. I felt that way before meeting but after, oh yes.

    But my parents—I never once felt beholden to them. We were a typical great family who drove each other crazy and loved each other very much.

    Now that they’re gone, I know how truly lucky I was though they would tell you and me they were the lucky ones.

    My mother always said “my life began the day we got you.” I don’t think she said this until I was an adult and then she said it often!

  13. I happened to find your blog through yahoo (as it is adoption month, more of these are popping up! THANKFULLY). I found that this entry hits very close to home. I get comments like “You are such a wonderful person for bringing these kids into your life” or “your kids are so lucky” and even “you are a saint.” Look, I didn’t do it to “save a child from a terrible life.” I CHOSE adoption because I am unable to have children of my own. So those comments that are meant to be compliments actually hurt. But I struggle with saying a modest “thank you.” These girls actually saved me; not visa versa. In fact, I’m more thankful that my husband was so supportive when we learned I could haven’t biological children. He jumped on the chance to adopt. It’s very evident that we adopted as well (I’m white and my children are black). I don’t get the chance to blend in or hide from the conversation that I dread. I tend to smile, say thank you and move on. I’m hoping it will get easier as we grow closer….or maybe I will just get a shirt that says, “Yes I adopted, I’m the lucky one.”

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