Non-Adoptee Privilege


GenealogyFor those of you who are not adoptees, have you deliberated on what it is like to not have been adopted? Have you considered the benefits that you derive from your non-adoptee status?

I am a non-adopted person. In reflecting on this typically “invisible” privilege, I realize that I take much for granted. Think about it…

  • I know exactly when and where I was born. I know how my mother gave birth to me, how long she labored before expelling me in the world, under the bright white lights of the sterile surgical suite. I know I was wanted, and that my parents enjoyed creating me.
  • I’ve had no problem getting my birth certificate—before I married my husband or when we adopted our children. All of the information is on the birth certificate; nothing is redacted. My birth certificate is not a delayed birth certificate.
  • I know my story. And when I’ve craved to know more I’ve asked my parents, grandparents, read family letters, and explored the genealogy contained in my mom’s family Bible. When my grandmother didn’t want to tell me the ugly I pushed, because those were the stories and history that fascinated me and helped me to understand her, and appreciate the fortitude of my family.
  • I am comforted in seeing the physical resemblances in the faces of my brothers, nieces and nephews. People have always shared how they can pick us out of a crowd. I know that my dimples, curly hair and ruddy complexion come from my father and my stature, smile, and eyes are gifts from my mother, who I resemble more and more as I age. I share left-handedness with my maternal grandfather, who died when my mom was just two-years old.
  • I know my medical history, what issues and diseases occur frequently within our family gene pool. I know what my mother, brother and grandparents died from. I know about the fertility and female health of the women in my family. I can provide answers in confidence when asked by my physicians.
  • I am not wary about being asked a range of questions about my family by others; about being judged by the moral or political biases they hold about adoption, my birth mother/parents, birth country, or culture of origin.
  • I don’t wonder whether I should share my status = adopted. I am not asked a range of questions about adoption, or expected to be a bridge for adoptive parents or for people of my race or ethnicity. I am not expected to feel gratitude for being part of my family. I am not made to feel that being curious about where I come from or seeking answers makes me “angry.”

We can’t walk in the shoes of those who have been adopted. However we can, through reflecting on our non-adopted privilege, begin to understand and develop the tools of empathy and compassion for those who have been adopted. We can be open to what they face on a regular basis and we can support them in their healing and lifting their voices.

Food for Thought: The above points only begin to scratch the surface. What else can you share from your perspective? What other benefits derive from non-adoptive privilege?

~Photo by bradmohr

{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

lia June 10, 2013 at 7:24 pm

will good for you


Tee @ Fostering Thrifty Families October 15, 2012 at 3:24 pm

Fantastic post. “Unpacking the Knapsack of Non-Adoptee Privilege”


Judy October 16, 2012 at 12:23 pm

Thanks, Tee. Perhaps people will develop a bit more compassion fro those who have been adopted.


Kathleen October 9, 2012 at 12:27 pm

Are not told that they can never be President of the United States. (IA kids)


Judy October 9, 2012 at 3:05 pm

Yep, Kathleen. We had that discussion when each of mine were in 4th grade and covering U.S. government.


Kathleen October 9, 2012 at 6:09 pm

Yes. My son is in 4th grade.


Tao October 8, 2012 at 3:28 pm

Great post and love production not reproductions post as well.

Non-adopted can talk about feelings related to being adopted without being subjected to “I’m sorry you had a bad experience but not all adoptees feel that way” type response, i.e. you are mal-adjusted and my children are happy and won’t be like you because unlike your parents I am doing it right.

Non-adopted probably aren’t subjected to “I have a cousin, friend, neighbor, who is adopted “who loves being adopted and is grateful to be adopted”, or “who never felt the need to search because their adoptive parents are their “real parents””, really the list is endless of dismissive statements.

Non-adopted probably don’t have people refer to their mother as a vessel, incubator, birth women, and many other even more nasty terms…and father as sperm donor…etc.

Non-adopted probably don’t have strangers asking you what your parents did wrong to make you critical of “how adoption is “currently” practiced”. In essense anything you see wrong with adoption today – is blamed on how your parents parented which took place 40 or 50 years before. It can’t just be because we see something being done wrong.


Judy October 8, 2012 at 6:11 pm

Thanks for adding to the list, Tao.


Heather October 8, 2012 at 2:48 pm

Excellent list. I think this is such an important topic for us to consider as adoptive parents. It’s an old post, but here was my attempt at reflecting on my privilege as a non-adopted person:


Judy October 8, 2012 at 2:56 pm

Hi Heather,
I read your post and although it’s an old one, I feel it is spot on. Yes… we do need to unpacking. Hope you and yours are well!


Lori Lavender Luz October 8, 2012 at 2:43 pm

This is a revealing list. I will keep watch to see what points others may add.


Judy October 8, 2012 at 2:56 pm

Thanks, Lori. :)


Leave a Comment

{ 2 trackbacks }

Previous post:

Next post: