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Please help me articulate why this is wrong and upsetting

23 replies

FamiliesShareGerms · 25/11/2013 20:03

Hi, grateful for help putting into words why I got so upset with the way MiL described DD. To avoid drip feeding, I should say that she loves DD and doesn't treat really her differently to her other grandchildren, and also that she can sometimes be a bit clumsy or insensitive with her choice of words, eg describing a friend as "coloured".

Anyway, there's a family joke about how many boys there are in the family and MiL said "I know, i always say that I have four grandsons and one imported granddaughter."

I got upset and tried to explain that it sounded as if she wasn't really a grandchild. She hadn't meant to cause any offence, had thought that she was doing the right thing by being open about adoption but didn't understand why I reacted how I did. Perhaps I over-reacted.

I need to go back to MiL to say that while it is good to be open about adoption, it isn't necessary to tell the world and his wife and there are better ways of putting it in any case. But please help me explain why that choice of words was wrong.


OP posts:
Liara · 25/11/2013 20:06

Perhaps I am projecting a bit here (my bf was purchased at birth) but imported has connotations of commerce and an adoption is in no way a commercial transaction.

RudolphLovesoftplay · 25/11/2013 20:10

Imported implied she was ordered and paid for!

realblueprint · 25/11/2013 20:13


I have no experience of adoption but it's the inclusion of any word between one and granddaughter that would get me.

To me, she has 4 grandsons and 1 granddaughter - her granddaughter doesn't need a special word to mark her out as 'different' from her other g/c.

FamiliesShareGerms · 25/11/2013 20:44

real - that's it, I have think you have hit the nail on the head. Any word (other than "beautiful", "lovely" etc) applied to DD when not applied to the others needlessly marks her out as different. Thank you

OP posts:
Devora · 26/11/2013 00:03

Yes, what realblue said. The additional word is a qualifier, and that implies she doesn't fully merit just simply being called a grandchild, alongside the other grandchildren.

Kewcumber · 26/11/2013 23:29

Its hard not to look like you're over-reacting. Just smile at her and say "It just made me wince a bit, emphasising how she's different to other people just feels a bit wrong to me".

Having said that I have heard adoptive parents with both bio and adoptive children talk about their "home-made" and "take-out" children and everyone else (all adopters) seemed fine with that description whereas it just made my teeth itch.

Italiangreyhound · 26/11/2013 23:53

I would feel very uncomfortable with the idea of 'home made'. Yet I have heard it.

partyondude · 27/11/2013 00:52

I grew up celebrating my adoption so I have some sympathy with where she's coming from.

maybe something along the lines of 'I had so many grandsons that I had to go out and find myself my beautiful granddaughter'might be better, although depending on how much of an issue the adoption is within the family, that might still be seen as offensive.

It's a hard one. When you are adopted, are you special because you were chosen, or are you an outsider because you weren't wanted. I suspect most adopted people sit somewhere between the two, no matter how successful an adoption.

Ilovekittyelise · 15/12/2013 22:44

i dont have any personal experience of adoption (other than friends adopting), just reading this out of interest so probably not my place to comment. knowing how hard it is for adoptive parents to feel in context of wider family and their biological offspring, i completely get how awful that comment would feel. but on the other hand maybe mil finds it hard to articulate her feelings about adoption and its her clumsy way of saying "even though its a little bit different and has taken some getting used to for me, shes my grandaughter".

Kewcumber · 16/12/2013 12:04

I'm sure you're right Kitty - people rarely intend to be offensive but we have to think of how our children will feel being constantly exposed to the drip drip of "you're different". SO it has really got to be nipped in teh bud however well intentioned it is.

Ilovekittyelise · 16/12/2013 12:09

i completely agree kewcumber, didnt mean to make light of that part.

BertieBowtiesAreCool · 16/12/2013 12:12

Is she saying it to prove the point that the "family genes" seem to churn out all boys and that the only girl isn't biologically related? Because I can see where it might come from as a joke in that sense, but it is definitely insensitive because it is highlighting "other" and "came from a different place".

Better than my MIL who refers to my adopted nephew as "that boy" and only, we think, tolerates DS (who is mine from a previous relationship) because DP and I don't have any biological children together yet. Angry

ChippingInLovesChristmasLights · 16/12/2013 12:20

I'm not sure if I can explain this without causing offence - but I'll give it a go.

She wasn't saying it 'in general'. She was saying it within the context that biologically the family produces Grandsons, but she has a Grandaugher due to her being adopted.

If she had said it without that context I'd have been all over her like a rash, but within context I don't actually think it was a terrible thing to say, but lacked finess (imported?? but you already know that's what she's like!). It's hard to say how she could have phrased it, not knowing who she was talking to or if they already know DD is adopted or not - but her point was biologically her family produces boys over girls and that she has a Grandaughter, but not a biological one.

See ^^ not sure I have explained it well.

It could also have been one of those times where shutting up was her best bet!!

My Mum struggles with the concept of something 'not being a secret, but still not something you need to make an issue of' and other foot in mouth things which are not what one would call tactful, so I do know what you mean.

I am sorry you were upset by her Flowers

BertieBowtiesAreCool · 16/12/2013 12:34

YY ChippingIn I think the same as well.

Kewcumber · 16/12/2013 13:51

Chipping - I don't think anyone will find what you say offensive (I'm not sure why you think anyone would?) and yes of course there is probably an explanation and a context which makes it acceptable to the MIL and you and Bertie. But as an adoptive parent my context is always what my child will take from the comment, particularly if it is made not within the smaller community of close family but to a wider audience which the OP's words imply this was.

There isn't even any indication that the person she was talking to was aware that OP's DD was adopted and its always a tricky line to draw deciding who to tell and who not to tell. That alone is something parents, grandparents etc need to consider - that in 5 years time DD may not want to be confronted by her granny's next door neighbour who runs the brownie pack knowing that she is adopted.

It's very common to have adoption diarrhea in the first year where you find it hard to resist telling everyone you know that your beloved DD/DS was adopted. But it is something you need to get a grip of. I regret telling as many people as I did - partly because I learnt very quickly that people think adoption is a "marvelous thing" and something to be shared with everyone who even vaguely knows you and you pretty soon become aware that you have acquired a qualifier "Kewcumber and her adopted son"

If the only way of telling the funny story about how few girls there are in the family is pointing at DD and saying shes adopted then they'll have to get out of the habit of it - DD won't think its OK "in contact" when she's older, I'm pretty sure.

BertieBowtiesAreCool · 16/12/2013 14:10

Oh yes I totally agree it was inappropriate and she obviously hadn't thought it through. I just wanted to say where it might have come from.

It's definitely not appropriate when adopted children are involved because they NEED to know that they are accepted and loved in the family and not an "extra".

Moomoomie · 16/12/2013 14:19

I too wish I hadn't told so many people that our first two girls were adopted.
With dd3 I have told far fewer people and it is so much easier, it is her story to tell.
It is one thing I say to perspective adopters, you don't have to tell everyone you meet!
Going back to inappropriate speaking. My brother managed a corker, soon after our older two came home, his wife became pregnant with their fourth child. My brothers words to my mum were " have another real grandchild". He wonders why I don't get on very well with him nowadays!

Kewcumber · 16/12/2013 15:06

It is one thing I say to perspective adopters, you don't have to tell everyone you meet!

Me too and I wish someone had tatoo'd it on my forehead!How did you manage not to deck your brother moomoomie? I'm impressed.

I think one of the issues is that there are sooooooo many commetns which are well intended or come from a happy palce or whatever that we and our childrne have to deal with, that you do begin to think "I don;t really care what the context was, I just don;t want to hear it"

Of course when its your MIL or Mother you have to bite your lip a bit.

My mum was as bad as me in the early days - any innocuous comment from any random sales assistant resulted in an explanation about how he was adopted. Mind you it was difficult to make an issue of it because I think I was as bad! I did wise up quickly though.

Moomoomie · 16/12/2013 16:13

Kew. I wished they made more of the fact of not telling at the prep course.

Re, my brother, he has said and done so many things over the years, that I try and be the bigger person and rise above it. I have to for the sake of my mum and my relationship with her.

Kewcumber · 16/12/2013 16:33

and of course hitting him with a frying pan would probably result in a prison sentence...

Moomoomie · 16/12/2013 17:11

That has actually made me laugh out loud, and I never say lol

2old2beamum · 16/12/2013 17:24

Several points, no you don't have to tell people your children are adopted but I am 70 and I get cross when people ask who am I when I take my 14 year old and 8 year old to hospital appointments (stroppy old cow) They don't know I may have had a hard life.

On Familiessharegerms post I can see where she is coming from. My evil SM when we adopted our 3 with DS she always made a point that they were adopted as "there is nothing in our family like this" Angry Guess who never was invited to see my lovely children!!

Devora · 16/12/2013 18:59

Ah yes, adoption diarrhoea. Been there, done that, repenting at leisure.

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