Saturday, August 19, 2006

Chosen Baby Nonsense

The first time I ever heard the "Chosen Baby" story, I hated it. You were chosen. You are special. We wanted you and now you are ours. All that proprietary language wrapped up in Hallmark sentiments. Not surpisingly, that language was later discarded by adoption experts, along with other social practices as "matching." Of course, back then, I couldn't exactly say what I found so objectionable about being "chosen." Probably because adoption was like the weather. Always there but not much I could do about it. There were no words to describe all those weird feelings. And I'm certainly not alone. Even relatively well adjusted adult adoptees who say they attached to their adoptive parents seem to get the gag reflux at the whole Chosen Baby tale. Except one. A friend of mine suggested I talk to a friend of hers. Let's call her Sally. Sally is also an adult adoptee. Adored her adoptive parents. Didn't seem to much mind being adopted.

So what's the difference? I got to wondering.

Did she have better adoptive parents? Were they more empathetic? What accounted for the difference. I still have no idea. Even after talking with her. She'd never really explored her feelings about adoption nor had she read any literature on adoption and its impact on the triad. Like the weather, it was there and, unlike me, seemed to accept it. Still, she told a story that puzzles me. Or maybe it's simply intriguing. That two people could view the same scenario in such different ways.

Sally went to catholic school back in the seventies. One of her teachers, a nun, asked if anyone in class was adopted. Sally cringed. She didn't want to admit she was adopted but she didn't want to lie either. So she raised her hand, not knowing what to expect. Sally wasn't alone. Several other kids did, too. The nun announced these children we so lucky. They were chosen. Special. And so on. Sally's reaction? Huge relief. Whew! She was lucky. Chosen. Special. Thank goodness! Sally says her mother used to tell her the same thing and it always made her feel great. I went to catholic school in the seventies, too. If I'd had the same experience, I would have hated that nun forever. I'd be talking about it with my therapist.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

The "chosen child" story must have been in the adopter handbook.Ideally meant to instigate gratitude in the adoptee,the term still rankles me today. My narcicisstic a mother used to introduce me to her friends as her "chosen child" in order to get supply as a saint for adopting me.

8:45 PM  
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4:39 AM  
Blogger AJ said...

I agree, that term is used by so many non-adoptees when they try to convince me of my 'special/rescued/chosen/saved' status. I mean, really. How can people assume that we are better off in our adoptive homes than we would have been with our biological families.

You found your biological mother, Nina - I just wanted to ask you - is it worth it to search? I am in a dilema. I was abandoned as a baby so there are no records of my mother so my chances of finding her are very low. Still, I am debating whether to give it a shot or not... What do you think?

My blog, ironically, also titled 'Adoptee Journal' -

11:31 PM  

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