A maligned subset

I know many people would disagree with me, but I sometimes feel as though no group in the world is more maligned than adoptive parents in the United States. We are criticized whether we adopt internationally or domestically; through private adoptions or foster care. Instead of being viewed as adults who, like millions of others, simply are trying to create a family, we are said to behave as though we are “entitled” or “privileged.” If we’re not “real” parents” what are we? Unreal? Some days, the negativity gets me down.

And then this. An editorial by James Collins in the New York Times, Mea (Totally Sincere if Overdue) Culpa, which I assume is intended to be tongue-in-cheek. Mr. Collins, as an adoptive parent to two children, I’m not laughing. An excerpt:

I have learned from the reports surrounding the death of Steve Jobs, at much too young an age, that he was adopted and that while he knew the identity of his real dad, the two never met. This has saddened me, and I feel that I can no longer justify denying you that same opportunity.

Mark, I have some news that will come as a shock: Edward and Karen Zuckerberg, two wonderful people, are your adoptive parents, and I, Jim Collins, am your biological father.


I want you to know at the outset that in no way do I wish to force a relationship on you. You already have a “father,” in the sense that he provided you shelter and basically adequate nutrition while you were growing up, if not in the sense that you are his authentic, natural child.

While, in a few short paragraphs, Collins impressively lands multiple zingers– “real dad,” “a ‘father’ [who] provided…basically adequate nutrition,” “not…that you are his authentic, natural child”–I have to wonder, at what cost? Maybe Collins isn’t one of the 6 out of 10 Americans who identifies as being touched in some way by adoption. Could it be that he really doesn’t know any adoptive parents, or children who were adopted, or anyone who relinquished a child through adoption? How else could he be so insensitive?

What bothers me most about essays like this one is the effect it may have on our children: That they, too, are somehow “less than.” Adoption is no joke, whether you are Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg, my kid, or a child growing up in an orphanage in Guatemala.


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6 Responses to “A maligned subset”

  1. heather says:

    I agree with what you have said, but read the entire post and think the entire thing is in bad taste. I don’t know how he could think his premise is funny in any way.

  2. Jessica says:

    “Bad taste” sums it up nicely. As you say, Not funny in any way. Thanks, Heather.

  3. Cynthia rovero says:

    I find his insesitivity to be demoralizing for each member of the adoption triangle in particular. It is like being sent back in time when we want positive changes to move forward.

  4. Jessica says:

    Cynthia: Exactly.

  5. Marianne Lonsdale says:

    Unbelievably bad taste.

  6. Jessica says:

    Thanks for reading and caring, Marianne.

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