It seems to be inevitable that when people find out that my husband and I adopted our son, we hear comments like "he's so lucky he got you" or "what a lucky boy to have you for parents."
While I know that these comments come from a genuine positive place of recognition of our (mostly) happy little family and I'm flattered that people notice that our parenting skills do rock, phrases like these make me cringe on the inside, even if I do a good job of hiding that reaction from the one giving the "complement."
The truth is, my son is not lucky.
To call him lucky really denies some serious pain and grief that has already occurred in his little life. To call him lucky really denies that the first year and a half of his life was filled with sorrow that no child should ever endure. To call him lucky really denies that even his time in utero was not healthy. To call him lucky really denies a huge part of his story that is not filled with care and joy and all the other things that babies need in order to survive and thrive. To call him lucky really denies all of these events that will forever shape and form him, even if he cannot remember them.
Am I glad that we have him? Yes. Am I filled with joy every single day because he is my son? Yes! Am I glad that he chose us (because he really chose us just as much as we chose him)? Yes, absolutely! Are we lucky? Sure, in some ways we are, in mostly the same ways other families are, but it's not luck or God's blessing that brought us together.
We were brought together because some adults who were not really ready to have a child, or raise a child, or care for a child (because they couldn't even take care of themselves) had a child. We were brought together because some other adults (doctors, nurses, and a whole team of medical staff) intervened so that my son would have fighting chance. We were brought together because some other adults (Children and Youth Services) realized that my son's situation was dire enough to have him removed from that situation. We were brought together because some other adults took our son into their home for a temporary time to be his parents (his foster family) and help him start getting the care and love that he so desperately needed and deserved.
We were brought together because the system in our country that is place to care for children in need worked and it worked relatively well, but within that short time before we were brought together by some really, really loving and compassionate adults who were making up for some really, really crappy decisions made by his birth parents, my son was far from lucky, he was far from blessed, he was in his own little hell that I carry in my heart always. A hell that I couldn't protect him from because I wasn't his mommy then, a hell that no child should live through, a hell that does not make him lucky.
And so what is he? He is a fighter. He is brave beyond any words. He is beautiful and artistic and sensitive and joyful. He also might be one of the strongest and most courageous people I know because he not only had the strength to save himself by surviving a terrible situation, but he also had the courage and the strength to learn to open up to love and to be loved by others.
So, if you're looking for the right words when in conversation with an adoptive family, try this, "thank you." Thank you for living through the stress of adoption. Thank you for working through the system to forge a family. Thank you for bearing your own pain (because there might be A LOT of grief within the adoptive family too) and thank you for bearing your child's pain to be the loving parents that you are.
Adoptive families are not formed by luck, they usually formed by a lot of pain and heartbreak, but ultimately they are formed by love.
No, my son is not lucky, but he is loved beyond words.