Why The Jokes About Adoption Need to Stop

I’ve known I was adopted all my life. My parents never hid it from me; In fact, they encouraged conversation about it. It’s part of who I am, an identity that I am proud to call my own. While I am comfortable with the thought of adoption, many are not. My whole life, I have struggled to explain my situation, and have been the target of negative words and assumptions.

“Why didn’t your birth mom want you?”

“Was there something wrong with you when you were born?”

“How does it feel to know that before you were even born, someone didn’t want you in their life?”

Unfortunately, these are all questions that have been asked by friends, coworkers, and fellow students when they find out I’m adopted. It never occurred to me that I was any different.

The conversation of adoption can be uncomfortable. For some reason, people seem to be thrown off with the idea that the woman who carried me in her womb for 9 months was not the person who changed my diapers and raised me to be the woman I am today.

I’m writing to you today as someone who is not at all ashamed of the fact that I am adopted, to say that the jokes about adoption need to stop and the stigma needs to disappear.

Media looks upon adoption as something to joke about. We’ve all seen the memes. A little kid in a full-on mental breakdown with tears streaming down his/her face with the words in bold at the top reading “You’re Adopted!”.

This type of humor persuades the public to believe the misconception that adoption is a stigma. Yes, the stigma has diminished substantially over time, but it is still alive in the form of internet memes and stand-up comedy humor.

Let me make something clear – adoption is not at all bad, and it is not something to be ashamed of.

The circumstances of adoption vary from family to family, but the decision is made completely out of love. I know from experience that most adopted children struggle to understand the meaning behind the actions of their birth parents, but even then, those kids have adoptive parents (I call mine mom and dad) who love them as their own children. It’s a selfless and noble choice to make. It’s hard to hear people say “So your mom and dad aren’t really your mom and dad”, when in reality they are. A mom and a dad aren’t always made through biology. I think that goes without saying.  

You might look at these memes and think they’re harmless, but the thing is, kids don’t process these as jokes. They look at them and are constantly reminded that it’s something to laugh at. These memes are essentially telling adopted kids that adoption is a secret that you need to hide from your friends for as long as possible.

Most people have no clue about adoption. The public blames the birth mother for her own ‘irresponsible choices,’ and she is punished for her fertility. Adoptees are expected to just accept the life that they were given and never inquire about their medical history or ask questions about where they came from. Adoptive parents are faced with questions like, “where is his/her real mother?”, or “why didn’t you just have kids of your own?”. These questions can be more damaging than you think.

So please, from an adoptee to everyone reading this article, before you retweet, repost, reblog, or share another meme about adoption, think about the impact it can make for someone who is struggling to understand his/her own situation. We don’t need you adding to it.