View Full Version : Saving a child- question

07-26-2004, 07:25 PM
Another post made me think about my thoughts that adoption "saves a child". I never realized that thought was wrong, so please tell me why it is. I really want to know, and I won't be hurt by your response.

07-26-2004, 07:38 PM
My thoughts: The idea that you are "saving" the child can imply some sort of favor that should be repaid. Some adults who were adopted children report feeling extra pressure to be good because they were "saved" from an orphanage, etc. This can keep the child from feeling like they are really part of the family. You'll see some adoptive parents express great relief when their adopted child first begins to misbehave because it suggests a level of security with the new family.

(You may see similar discussions on calling an adopted child "lucky" in reference to his or her adoption.)

I hope others will add their thoughts and I really appreciate that you asked this question!

07-26-2004, 07:47 PM
I just wanted to add that I agree with Catherine on the terminology "saving" a child. It kind of discounts adoption as a way to huild a family. That's not to say that many loving, happy families weren't begun with exactly that feeling on the parents' paret (particularly in regards to the children adopted from South Korea after the war). However, I think it was from their overall experience and feelings about this term that cause it to be phased out. Again, not that they weren't part of loving families.

However, I think that saying a child is "lucky" doesn't offend me as long as it is also recognized that the parents are "lucky" as well.


07-26-2004, 07:51 PM
Adoptive parents aren't heros. They are parents, just like biological ones. As another poster said, it puts pressure on the child, especially emotionally. This is seen a great deal with foster or older placement adoption. Some adoptees have expressed that the idea that they were "saved" as insulting. Some feel they did not need to be "saved", even from the worst conditions, and they wanted to remain with their biological families.

One of my children is adopted, he has special circumstances and needs that have to be addressed. I hate when doctors and people who know us casually talk about how "we saved him". The thing is, we didn't look to save anyone, we just wanted a child, and we chose to adopt him.

07-26-2004, 08:44 PM
Like the other posters have nicely pointed out, adopting isn't a "mercy mission", an attempt to "save" a child from a cruel, horrible existence. It's a desire to be a parent and raise a child, as well as a selfless act of love (much like a biological parent, much like many birthparents when they place their child for adoption or turn them over to a safe place, orphanage, or even the state when they know they just can't do it). In a lot of cases, both domestic and international, many people/couples are waiting for a child and if you decided not to parent them, someone else would. After many years of infertility, pregnancy failures, heartache, and longing, I can honestly say to people that is is more likely that *I* was "saved" rather than my son.
~Connor's Mom~
http://lilypie.com/baby1/050204/1/0/1/-6/.png (http://lilypie.com)

07-26-2004, 08:58 PM
Since I wrote the post I'll answer. I don't think that the desire to "save" a child is the wrong motivation to start an adoption. In fact I think that many many many people who might be able to become pregnant are drawn to adoption with that motivation. Still once a child is home and in your house and often long before that the inital pull becomes different it becomes more about parenting.

Think of it this way, if your child asks you "why did you adopt me?" Most parents would not answer I adopted you to save you from the life you would have in your birth country or within foster care. Yet there are people whose attitude is still "I'm doing it to save this child", not to love this child. I just feel really strongly that by the time you are accepting a referral, the overwhelming desire to love a child is a much more important then whether you have saved a child from some other life. Does that make sense?

I can tell you without a doubt that I have never read any post on this board that I would say has the attitude I was referring to (but I have read it in other places and I wonder 5 or 10 years from now how the adoption is going to work when the attitude of the parents seems to be they are doing some great service by adopting.

I hope that makes sense. I'm sorry I wasn't clearer in my first post.

07-26-2004, 09:09 PM
I always feel weird when folks say "Oh you'll be saving the children", I am not offended by it for they haven't thought thru it, but it does make me want to say "no they are saving me" :)....though I don't feel that the correct thing to say either.

I have to say though that at times I do feel like I should take a referral that could benefit from what my family can supply that maybe others can not. Though I know I wouldn't use the term the "save" when the child is home but I know with our insurance and that we live within an hour of two of the best hospitals in the country and my extensive work in a hospital that maybe this is a route we should go. Would one describe that thought as possibly "saving" probably...I don't but if we go down this path I assume I will hear that often and do not expect to live life with my panties in a wad over it...

I also have thought to seek Roma (Gypsy) or Tartar children, they are treated badly in many parts of Eastern Europe...friends have returned and have cited words from oprhange directors to describe these children that make me cry...again if I seek a child such as this and that is known how EE treats these children (people) then the word "save" might come up...

Anyway I am not really answering your question but stating where you can see why the general public could be so naive...

Neve and Tristan born Feb 25, 2003
EDD with #2 March 18, 2005
heartbeat and "looking great" so far
Traveling in Jan insearch of the rest of our family-adopting in Ukraine

07-26-2004, 11:57 PM
Thank you all for your very thoughtful answers.

I should mentioned that my dad is adopted, and he also feels he wasn't "saved" but that is because he was raised without love.

Again, I'm glad I have you all to help me straighten out my thinking! :) It challenges me to be a better person and parent.

07-27-2004, 11:46 AM
I know it is a thought I've had from time to time ("if *we* or *someone* doesn't adopt them, then what will their life be like?"). I also read some good advice which said if that is the only reason you want to adopt (to "save a child") you should not, because that feeling will wear off quickly and then what?

07-28-2004, 01:19 PM
and this is by no means directed at anyone...just a thought to the world about how I feel about this...so again this has nothing to do with any responses in this community...I am thinking out loud and have some thoughts, and actually hoped it to be more uniting for adoptive parents...

I kind of cringe at the "the feeling will wear off quickly"...and hope maybe the feeling to save might wear off but that the feeling of being a parent takes over...
I mean we are talking about children here not a sofa and our current decor!!!!!!

With that said, this thread has lingered on my mind some...and I guess I have a problem with possibly standing

in WalMart and seeing 4 out of 10 women in line pregnant and then at the least 1 out of the ten (me) adopting and that for some reason my intentions would be put under a microscope more than these gals carrying a child.
I'm not saying what I mean to correctly that I know...but I guess I am uneasy with a simple word being over analyzed by folks about people with strong desires (and huge efforts in the process) vs folks who have children biologically.

I think adoptive parents need to support eachother and not look for cracks in their foundation (unless highly warrented) that question their motives, or even supply blanket statements to how they feel if their thoughts started off as "saving" anyone. I will gladly admit that at times I have felt I will seek children that would not be sought by others due to race especially...and I dare anyone question my motives...

I think many folks are giving and good in nature...these are the folks who have probably "saved" many in life...they are usually non judging, able to accept diversity, helpful folks...it wouldn't suprise me in the least if they are the same folks who would seek adoption, while maybe others only want a cookie cutter image of themselves in the house (and I have seen and heard frist hand this sort of thing often)...

I can only speak for myself...and will not even begin to think that anyone else shares this view...but I can say I'd be damned if I EVER let anyone critque my intentions to adopt based on a word like "save"...I (speaking for myself) refuse to be held to any different standard this go around as oppsoed to my decision to conceive. I can only assume if I wasn't able to have a child biologically my panties would be more in a bunch if I was looked at under a microscope by "advice" giving people.

Our income wasn't looked at by a stranger (homestudy) when we decided to do the act that creates a child biologically
Our house payment wasn't looked at by a stranger when we decided to do the act that creates a child biologically.
Our marriage wasn't looked at...
Our criminal record wasn't looked at
Our home size wasn't looked at
OUr family wasn't looked at

I mean we are held to different standards due to that process...I don't care for the population to hold me to a standard anymore than a mom in the lounge announcing she is pregnant...how do we know anyones motives or reasons?????

I trust folks know what they want when they chose to have a child, I hope for the best of folks and their intentions and don't want the population snooping around in my closet looking for something to find fault in with all of their "advice" on any adoptive parents intentions...

Neve and Tristan born Feb 25, 2003
EDD with #2 March 18, 2005
heartbeat and "looking great" so far
Traveling in Jan insearch of the rest of our family-adopting in Ukraine

07-28-2004, 03:54 PM
I have to agree with you that a lot of people's motives for adopting are put under great scrutiny, especially if you already have or still plan to have biological children. Now my thoughts (and these are not directed towards any particular person)....I believe that the PP was just trying to say that "some" peoples motivation is maybe a bit off. A person/couple should not plan to adopt a child in the hopes of "saving" him or her, but rather in the desire to parent. No one should assume that the "saving" feeling will turn into a love or desire to parent because what if it doesn't?
Hate to compare like this, but it's like when people find out about another abuse of society, let's take greyhounds....everyone rushed to the aid of the "poor" pups, wanting to "save" them. Only after the glow wore off did people start to realize the long-term effects of abuse or special needs and then people become "tired" of them, some even being returned. They don't know what they are getting into. Adopted children have been exposed to numerous factors (neglect, isolation, drugs, alcohol, etc.) that might not rear their head until they are school-age. Look at all the cases of abuse and murder that has been in the news recently by adoptive parents who weren't prepared for a childs late onset attachment disorder, self-abuse, etc. People need to be prepared for the worst and pray for the best. Again, I apologize for the pup comparison, but that is how large portions of the adoption community view the term and action of "save".
I think it is fabulous if someone is truly interested in adopting and chooses to adopt a child who may be at a higher risk of never being adopted. IMHO if anyone wants to save a child (if anyone really can), then people should be sending in money to countries to provide clean water and education, becoming a big brother/big sister to an inner city youth, or taking in a special needs child (or maybe one from an African country where over half of the adult population is gone due to AIDS). Sorry to be on my soapbox, but the term "save" just really offends me, as does people who just adopt to look good and save a poor child, loving the attention, but not prepared for the consequences. It makes it harder on the rest of us who wouldn't have a family if not for adoption. I give credit to anyone who wants to be a parent, for whatever reason, but I just can't support the "save" theory. Ok, now....am I still welcome in the forums? :)

~Connor's Mom~
http://lilypie.com/baby1/050204/1/0/1/-6/.png (http://lilypie.com)

07-28-2004, 04:55 PM
Said with a huge smile so please take it that way...

Funny I hated to use the scenerio of wishing to adopt to a pup as well...but the word "save' might apply to them and I think it safe to say you and I speaking interms of "save", the thought process and the possible result...so there is my disclaimer for both of us.

But I have an exact opposite situation as the greyhound example. I had a dog and never ever wanted another one in her life time, infact sadly I looked at folks with more than one and thought secretly "how can anyone love a pup more if they share the love with two"...

So minding my own business I drove home from work and a mommy dog who just delivered pups stopped my car. I can't tell you how much I didn't want another dog, she belonged to a homeless man and animal control was there daily trying to catch her.
I took her...TOTALLY to "save" this sweet dog and find her a home. With saggy boobs, skinny features I couldn't find her one...she was not a "beauty" in others eyes. I kept her and I honest to god would not take a million dollars for her. She is gorgeous, and now I could fine 100 homes for her overnight, all of friends have shown an interest in her.

Anyway I respect that the word "save" can upset some, my thinking of the thread built me to type what I did, and while I stand by my thoughts I'm not certain I made sense :)

I think all of the different thoughts make our boards go round :)...and they also leave us all something to think about if we agree or disagree...

Know matter what words I might use in my intentions or desire to adopt, in my case, will effect how I handle problems down the road etc... it would be nice if our simple vocabulary was a litmus test...but I'm not certain it is...

Neve and Tristan born Feb 25, 2003
EDD with #2 March 18, 2005
heartbeat and "looking great" so far
Traveling in Jan insearch of the rest of our family-adopting in Ukraine

07-28-2004, 05:15 PM
I think this is an important and interesting topic. I came across this snipet from a post on another board today and thought it was relevant (although extreme) to this.

"However, I also know
from personal experience that there are parents who do present their
children's abandonment completely within the context of hard dose of
reality combined with expected gratitude for our saving them from a
terrible fate. I know of parents who have told their children --
told them over and over -- how they were found in a dumpster -- and
how it was luck or God's will or divine intervention that they were

Obviously, I'm not suggesting that anyone on this board would do this. I just thought it was worth sharing.

07-28-2004, 05:28 PM
Great post Neve. For me I guess what it comes back to is that I really stopped reading other people's online journals of their adoption journey when I hit 2 or 3 in a row that carrying the message that some how the only reason was to "save" the child. Not love, not wanting to parent, saving...It was just well it's hard to describe but then again if I take the source of the journals in context I'm not sure that I would agree with the person's parenting methods on any level so it was probably all tied up together. In the end it's probably just the word save or rescue, it just pushes a button with me. And again in context, it's not like anytime a person uses the word save I jump off the deep end :) and there is when push comes to shove a lot worse reason or motivations to adopt. I'm sorry that I even mentioned the word in the other post, I think my thought at the time was that there are times that I read things that make me wonder why someone is even adopting because it just sounds like they are filled with so much negativity about the whole issue (and it just happens that the most negative ones I've read have been saving someone ) and I just hope that there is some postive underneath the surface that I'm not seeing

In the end the truth is (which I have already said) the idea of helping a child (or saving or rescuing if you prefer those terms) is really what starts a lot of people down the path to adoption. People who might never have thought of it as an choice in life. They see pictures on the internet or see stories of children in other countries or hear the story of a friend of a friend of a friend and the idea that they do could the same starts them out. Is that a better or worse motivation then someone who starts down the path because they only have boys and want a girl or only have girls and want a boy or don't have any children at all..it just makes their motivation to start different? Many of us do things in life where are motivations aren't as pure or clear as others, that doesn't mean that we are not good people. But as with many things what motivations us to start something and what eventually is our motivation to continue often times changes and matures and if it doesn't (not talking about adoption but in general) things don't always go as smoothly as they could.

In the end adoption is about parenting and loving a child. Whatever gets us to look at adoption isn't as important as the fact that in the end that's what we want to do parent and love (and if we don't then we should NOT be adopting and the unfortunate truth is that there are those who start on the adoption path who don't have that underlying desire to parent or love..why they start down the path is beyond me but they do exist just as there are those who have biologically who don't see parenting and love as the underlying factor)

Anyway I will shut up now.

07-28-2004, 06:45 PM
"I kind of cringe at the "the feeling will wear off quickly"...and hope maybe the feeling to save might wear off but that the feeling of being a parent takes over...
I mean we are talking about children here not a sofa and our current decor!!!!!!"

Right, the impression I got from the person was she was saying you should do it because you want to be a parent, not ONLY to "save" a child. Am I making sense? Not sure...

07-29-2004, 02:38 AM
I haven't read all of the replies in their entirety, but I wanted to add that I really think this is an important thread. It's late and I'm in a hurry, so I hope I'm able to make my point without offending anyone.

One of the turning points on our adoption journey was going to an information session on transracial adoption in our community (predominantly white). It was great because it was a very open and frank discussion of the challenges these families faced in our community. One of the mothers there cautioned all of us to really consider our motivations behind adopting--to really understand and evaluate what challenges you will be taking on as a family and make sure that you're willing to do it with your eyes open--and be honest with yourself about what you can and can't take on. (This followed some comments in the discussion about race not being a big deal...)

I found this to be very good advice in general and really triggered us to think about what we could take on in our family.

I think PP's stated very well why 'saving' as a term is not considered PC. Getting away from everyone else evaluating whether or not your motives are good/valid--I think it's an excercise in self-exploration that is much better done prior to placement for the benefit of the entire family.

Mom to Jeremiah 2/4/03

07-29-2004, 02:20 PM
Neve - I do think your posts on this have been great. I've been thinking about this overnight and I had a couple of thoughts to add. First of all, I would be judgmental of a preganant woman who told me that her only reason for getting pregnant was to, for example, fix her marriage or convince her boyfriend to marry her. As I would be judgemental of a woman who was adopting who said her only reasons for adopting a child is to save them. I think people are rare who either covceive or adopt without wanting the child independently of other reasons. But, I know a woman who had a child to save her marriage (which it didn't). He's 4 and she still calls him a burden.

I wouldn't assume of either adopting or pregnant parents that they had anything but wonderful motives unless they made it a point to say something. I also wouldn't be offended if someone mentioned they adopted their child, they were wonderful, blah, blah, blah, and they were so glad they saved them from the possibilities of their previous life. I guess it's all contextual - if someone made it a point of going around saying to everyone and their child, "Look at what I saved you from." And that was the main thrust of their conversation about their child - -

I am so glad that I will be able to offer Jamie things he never would have had if I hadn't adopted him. I ache for the kids I met in his orphanage that I left behind (alhough he came from a loving place, it's still an orphanage). But what I want him to know is how loved he was there, how valuable he was to his caretakers - I imagine he will have enough questions and self doubt at being abandoned without me making a point of the problems of his previous life. I also feel it's his business. Now, obviously, I'm part of this group, and we're part of another adoption group IRL, but I don't want him to walk around in his life and community being the kid who was saved from an orphanage.

Anyway, I hope nothing I said offended you. I think it's probably one of thode topics that is not easily summarized in a forum such as this.

07-29-2004, 03:41 PM
Nothing you said offended me...infact I agree with every ounce of it. I cringed at about 100 things in that one journal that I posted and one of the many things was that she'd ever "remind" the child of the other side of things if not adopted (like if she did not go with mommy would she like to be returned to her groupa)...

While I agree with everything your post said I must not have gotten my thought process out there correctly, and it is hard to explain for I can't ever imagine anyone letting neighbors, the child or anyone ever think they were "saved"...NEVER...that isn't what I was addressing...

I think I was more addressing a person maybe at a cocktail party, just starting the process describing their intent to adopt and somewhere the word "save" is in the conversation that I wouldn't ever get my hackles up on something like that....
Does that make sense???
For example if someone said "we are seeking a gypsy child in Ukriane/Bulgaria (EE) for they are fed in different areas as the other children, they are not allowed to play with the other kids etc..." and if someone said the word "saved" in there in anyway I am not one who would jump on that and question intentions etc...

and also I am not saying that pregnant women don't get judged...but I also don't think to say "saving the marriage" etc... can be compared to the term "saving" (in my cocktail party example) about a child.

For example many who go thru with an unexpected pregnancy are doing it to "save" the child no matter what they do when it is born.

Anyway I guess my point is hard to make, though I stand by it for me personally...

And I also agree that much of this is their story...and I have thank god reminded myself to remember that constantly.

It's hard to type right now with T in lap...so I hope this makes a little sense...
Anyway I'm not trying to change anyones thought process on this one just sharing that I don't get myself wound up or question intentions of a parent to be over that word assuming it used loosly. I'm also not defending the word but I don't around looking for one word that can let me decide if I think thy neighbor is worthy to adopt or not...

Then again I don't go around in general questioning folks motives...I guess I trust folks in general to know what they want without sniffing for something to find wrong.
I'm not saying anyone has done that, just stating my views on the word and what the topic has made me think about and of...

Motherhood is filled with folks trying to find fault in a mothers foundation...and I guess knee deep into the dossier and worrying about time frame right now just makes me uneasy that even this process might lead folks to look for a crack in a foundation...

Anyway I am rattling on and on...and am not certain I am making any sense :)...

Neve and Tristan born Feb 25, 2003
EDD with #2 March 18, 2005
heartbeat and "looking great" so far
Traveling in Jan insearch of the rest of our family-adopting in Ukraine

07-30-2004, 05:29 PM
"But, I know a woman who had a child to save her marriage (which it didn't). He's 4 and she still calls him a burden."

How very sad.

08-11-2004, 09:18 PM
Here's my 2 cents:

I was adopted as a nine month old baby. My parents could not have a child of their own. I was made to feel special about being adopted and that I was a gift. I am 37. when I was little another family with an adopted child was teased and made to feel bad that she was adopted. Many people 37 years ago kept adoption as a secret. But this was not the case in my family I have always know that I was adopted, and I was raised by loving parents, and always felt good about being adopted.

I feel very blessed. My biological mother loved me enough to give me up for adoption so that I could have a life that she probably felt she could not give me. And I feel blessed that my parents adopted me and loved me.

I think that biological and adoptive parents have the same goals and that is to love and raise a child. And to enjoy watching them grow and learn. And to help them to become good happy people. I do not believe there is a difference between adoptive parents and biological parents. They just have to go through different means to have a child to love.

I have a biological son. If my son was adopted I would love him the same as I do now. My Mom and Dad have been there for me through the good and they bad just like a biological parent. I usually don't even think about the fact that I was adopted. The only time I really think about it is when I see a post like this or when I have to fill out a medical form and it says family history.

I beleive a child is a gift no matter how the child comes into your life and into your heart. A child does not have to grow in your tummy to be loved it can grow in your heart while you are filling out the endless amounts papaerwork.

Katie Mom to Sam 9/03