Please Don’t Ask Me… Aren’t You Glad You Weren’t Aborted?”

Honestly, how insensitive do you have to be to think that it is remotely acceptable to ask someone, “aren’t you grateful you weren’t aborted?” That question has been asked of me many times and by my own family.

Let’s stop and think about it for a minute. Rephrase: “Aren’t you glad your mother decided not to kill you, but instead decided to give you away and relinquish all rights as your mother?” “Aren’t you glad that, instead of dying, your life has been full of questions, identity struggles, grief, loss, depression, hurt, anger”… the list goes on.

Another question often posed to me: “Aren’t you so glad you got to be raised in a family with two parents and siblings instead of by a single mother? You probably would have spent your whole childhood in daycare.” Again, a question that my family has asked me. You know what the worst part is? They are truly, 100% serious and genuine in their inquisition.

In both cases, every time someone asks those questions, I can tell that they mean well. They truly have no idea what is so terribly, awfully wrong with what they are asking. Because they never stop to consider the depth behind their words. They truly do not know what it is like to live as an adoptee. They have no idea of how much this thing they view as a wonderful alternative to not ever being born is something that causes us immense grief and hurt. They do not know that “yay, I didn’t die” has little meaning to us and isn’t something that brings us any comfort when thinking about the seemingly simple fact that our mothers gave us away. Our mother. The person who is supposed to love us unconditionally. Who is supposed to wipe our tears away and know just the right thing to say. The person who would protect us from all harm and hurt. Who knows us better than we know ourselves, because we are an extension of them. (These are just observations I have made from looking at the relationships others have with their mother.)

Yet it’s assumed that the adoptive parents can do all of that. They can love enough to make the pain from adoption cease to exist. I wish it were true, I really do. If you haven’t read the book, The Primal Wound, by Nancy Newton Verrier, I highly recommend it. I read it at the very start of my forage into the adoption community, when I was first coming face to face with my truest feelings on being adopted. The further I went into the book, the more I realized how much I identified with so much of what she was saying. I also realized how much I had suppressed my feelings because of the constant message that I needed to be grateful for this life I had been given, for not being aborted, for not being raised by a single mother. This leaves zero room for the deeply rooted grief that we feel as a result of being separated from our natural mother. This is grief that we have little control over, but are expected to not discuss or acknowledge.

From the Lost Daughters Flip the Script Writing Prompts: Consider these questions, inspired by tweets at the #ShoutYourAdoption hashtag:Should adoptees be more grateful than non-adopted people that they weren’t aborted? Is living as an adopted person preferable to never being born?

How on earth am I supposed to answer those questions? Would I rather cope with the feelings of being unwanted, unloved, rejected, out of place.. or would I rather have never existed? You would NEVER ask that question of someone who wasn’t adopted. Why is it appropriate to ask it of us? Why should we be more grateful to have been born than anyone else? If anyone ever stopped to really truly think about how preposterous it all sounds, maybe they would reconsider questions like that.


10 thoughts on “Please Don’t Ask Me… Aren’t You Glad You Weren’t Aborted?”

  1. yan says:

    The few times I’ve been asked, I really want to ask, “Well, aren’t you?” I haven’t, though. Adoptees have to be “good” and girls have to be “nice,” and I can’t often overcome that in casual (ha!) conversation.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Suzanne says:

    Have you sought psychological help? Because your idealization of a “mother” (by which you mean the woman who gave you birth) is a fantasy. No mother is that perfect paragon that you paint, and many are far, far worse. Some are benignly neglectful; some are rejecting; some are emotionally abusive; some are physically abusive, to the point in some cases of murdering their children. Some are emotionally immature and look to their children to parent them.

    Your outside observations are just that — outside observations. Have you asked any of these people what their relationship with their mother is really like? The public face of a relationship is not the true relationship. Have you ever asked them whether they fantasized about being adopted? Fantasized about a “perfect mother” who would sweep in and save them? Because many of them have.

    And, yes, people do ask those questions of people who are not adopted, especially the children of single mothers. They also vilify the children of single mothers, suggesting that they will all grow up to be criminals and “thugs” and welfare queens. What’s really sad is that you seem to have absorbed your family’s prejudice against single mothers.

    The questions you’ve been asked suggest to me that you have been emotionally abused. That is something you need help to deal with. It isn’t going to go away, even if you do discover your birth mother.


    • First of all, you clearly missed the point (not sure how, since it’s the title of the blog) that I am from open adoption. I know my birth mother. But thank you for your concern, misguided as it was. I also made the point that every time these questions were asked, they were not posed with a malicious intent, as you seemed to presume. They were asked in ignorance. Something I am fully capable of understanding. When my family asked those questions, they were wanting me to feel lucky to be apart of the family. Was the question inherently offensive and misguided? Yes. Did they ever think of it like that? No. And I’ve forgiven them for that.

      To your point of my idealization of a perfect mother (again, reminder that I have met my biological mother and know her pretty well)… I am sorry for whatever you have gone through that has caused you to have such strong feelings on this subject. Such strong feelings that you came to an adoptee’s blog, read one post, made assumptions and then criticized my status as an adoptee, rather than my statements on this blog. I would encourage you to read each post I have made, especially the first one, so that you know my whole story before criticizing, passing judgment & suggesting multiple times that I need help. That is offensive and demeaning.

      One last question. Regarding this statement: “What’s really sad is that you seem to have absorbed your family’s prejudice against single mothers.” Would you please explain what in this blog post made you come to that conclusion? Because I, for the life of me, cannot figure that one out.

      Liked by 2 people

    • Laurie Mckinlay says:

      Actually your reply is great Ellie. I had so much pain in my life and just realized it has generally come from the relinquishment that lead to the adoption. Paul Sanderland lecture is so informative


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