In adoptee terms, grateful has become synonymous with indebted for being “saved” or obligated to be thankful for being adopted. Obviously, it’s way more complicated than that…
Can you transracial adoptees enlighten everyone on these complications? I’m tired of being viewed as an ingrate, just because I have criticisms…
On this topic I always go back to the basis of this salvationist sentiment as found in the many and varied references to Noah’s Ark within the adoption world. The basic premise here is that some are saved, and some are not, and the grace of God determines this outcome. Given that both the Biblical and Qur’anic accounts of the Flood are both predicated on the metaphorical ruin that comes from a willful persistence in sinning, it seems not just a stretch but a fundamentally and stunning misinterpretation of this concept to apply it to children who are not of an age to manifest any kind of free will. This puts the “saver” egotistically speaking within the realm of a God figure, and I think this goes a long way to elucidate the mindset of those adopting.
Furthermore, at least in the Qur’anic account, being thus “saved” is not without concern for those who are not saved; it is not without acknowledging those who are metaphorically “drowned”. So to turn around and say to an adopted child that they should be “grateful” is to assume a God-like judgmental position of power over those considered to be “rightfully punished”. Furthermore it makes a relativistic judgment that one kind of life is better than another; given that I am more and more living the life I might have led had I not been adopted, I can say that I don’t accept this kind of classist comparison any longer. Therefore I refuse to consider myself “saved”, much less “grateful”. No favor or justice is done when an act of so-called saving grace 1) in and of itself perpetuates the economic and political deprivation that then becomes the undergirding need for this supposed “saving” and 2) does not consider the validity of an equality of such action to all those in need in all of society.
Thorough, thoughtful analysis, Daniel. Once again in awe of your perceptive / expressive powers.
Thanks. To elucidate further, based on remarks I made on another blog….
For me the problem is foregrounding something which should just be; it is a given, in my mind, that one acts in a way that looks out for the common good, and especially those who might be dependent on one’s beneficence as concerns them. To bring it to the fore changes it to a question almost of accounting—”I did this, he didn’t thank me”. This completely undoes the concepts of empathy or care, if you ask me. It reminds me of Westerners who come to this part of the world and who marvel at the “hospitality” of the Arab, as if it is an affectation, and not a function of the lived condition—it just is. I hate this word “hospitality” now, because it is taken advantage of when used in this way; it becomes an expectation without reciprocation, and to point it out is to show what is lacking from one’s own culture. Similarly, to speak of “gratitude” is to show the negative, the vacuum, the missing aspect of something which, if it was there but was just unstated, has now been completely ruined.