Adopted kids aren't 'lucky'

Written by: Julianne Neely


"They are so lucky to have you."

This is something my family hears regularly from strangers and friends alike. Every time I hear it my heart sinks, because I know the person saying it has the best possible intentions but, really, these babies are far from lucky and it misses the reality of their painful journey. 

Every single child deserves a loving, supportive home. Luck should have nothing to do with it. But if it did, "lucky" would have been being able to stay with their first families in better circumstances without the pain of significant loss. Each of my children's removal from their first families and placement into our family was complex and traumatic for everyone involved. Describing them as "lucky" dismisses the loss and trauma they have experienced.

There was nothing "lucky" or "blessed" about how they came to us. We need to remove the word "luck" when trying to describe their stories. 

They didn't choose this. They didn't play a game and win a prize. This is their life and they ended up with parents who are going to screw up as much as the next unlucky kid who thinks his parents are the worst. 

So, please, think about how your words will hear to these small ears and pause long enough to formulate words that describe what you mean. I think what you mean to say is you're "so glad we are together now" or "we make a great team" or "we look like we're having fun together." 

Instead of talking about how lucky my kids are, I hope you can say, "I can see how much you love those babies and it warms my heart." 

I do. I love them more than words can even express, and they deserve that love. They are fully entitled to a love that is big and bold and healing, because they have been through a lot.

What you’re seeing isn’t luck, it’s the love of a unique and beautiful family. 

Julianne Neely MSW, LCSW (pictured, above, with her daughter) is a business owner, special needs mom, foster-adopt parent and pediatric therapist. Julianne has become the leading expert in pediatric mental health in Chicago, where she owns and manages Individual and Family Connection. At IFC, she has the privilege to manage a team of amazing clinicians who are passionate about working with children and seeing them thrive.

Photo credit: Samantha Jean Photography

Posted on January 25, 2016 at 4:41 PM