Dawn Davenport



Should our adoptive children be constantly thanking us for giving them a home?

How many of you adoptive parents have heard comments that imply that your child should be grateful to have been adopted by you?  It might be a variation of the “He’s so lucky” comment.  Or it might be like one of our Creating a Family community heard, when her 11 year old adopted daughter was acting like a typical snotty pre teen who was being told “no”.  Said daughter stomped out of the room and slammed her bedroom door to emphasize her disappointment.  A visitor commented to the mother: “You would think she’d show a little more gratitude after all you’ve done for her!”

I hate to burst that woman’s bubble, but gratitude is not inherent in the nature of most children. I will get an occasional spontaneous “thank you”, a few more when demanded, and even more when they want something, but usually my children take what I offer as their due, which in fact, I suppose, it is.  I don’t mean to say that my kids are disrespectful, although on occasion they are that as well.  What I mean is that they are not particularly grateful for their existence or presence in our family.  I think that my kids—or least my older two– appreciate that they could have done worse in the parenting department, but they’ve never thanked me for bringing them into this family.  I don’t expect them to.

I think this is pretty typical of kids regardless how they came to be yours.  Just because you went through five years of infertility treatment, three failed IVF cycles, and $100,000 doesn’t mean that your child will go through life in a permanent state of gratitude for your persistence and fortitude.  The same is true for adopted children.

No child deserves the pressure of feeling undying gratitude for being rescued.  Most people adopt because they want to be a parent.  It’s an added bonus that the child gets a home and a great family.

Image credit: Nakeva

07/12/2010 | by Dawn Davenport | Categories: Adoption, Adoption Blog, Blog | 9 Comments

9 Responses to Gratitude

  1. Avatar Jennefer says:

    We have three bio sons and then adopted our daughter from Russia at age 2. We would never expect her to be grateful to us. She didn’t ask to be adopted. I think we have been as challenging to her as she has been to us.

    Anyway, I am spreading the word that I just created a free, ad-free forum for moms who are struggling with the mom thing and are looking for support you can find it at

    • Avatar Dawn says:

      Jennefer: I laughed at your line “I think we have been as challenging to her as she has been to us. ” I suspect my kids would say I’m a challenge as well. My eldest son commented one time that having me for a mom wasn’t the easiest thing in the world. He made this comment when I was preparing to go to the high school open house. Apparently, my insistence on taking advantage of all opportunities to meet and talk with his teachers was quite a challenge to him.

  2. Avatar Chris says:

    My mom and I were speaking about our (my wife and I’s) pending adoption from Korea. She said, “She’s so lucky to be adopted by such wonderful people.” My response (which I admit I didn’t come up on my own, it’s borrowed) was “No, we’re the lucky ones.”

    Short, simple, inoffensive, and to the point.

  3. Avatar tam says:

    every person, man woman or child deserves basic things like love respect and healthy nourishing food. it is a human right. they shouldnt have to be thankful. I think our adopted kids ARE thankful based on things they say(older child adoptions)and while that is nice we never expected it of them and would not hold it against a child who doesnt express that. and lets be honest here, what birth child says oh thanks mom for giving me life, and discipline and love. no that comes later when they are adults and realise what their parents have given up for them. and some people never do come to that realisation. and if our kids never thank us for raising them, its ok, we did it because we wanted to. we selfishly wanted to raise them and love them and teach them. we did it for us. we get so much in return, if they never say thanks mom, I am just fine with that

  4. Avatar W.F. and co. says:

    Thank you very much for this excellent post. It sums up exactly how I feel so often. I am both and adoptee and an adoptive mom. As a child I wasn’t any more grateful than any other kid. I appreciate all my parent did for me now that I’m an adult, but I don’t know that I’m anymore grateful than most non adopted adults. I love my parents so much and they know that. My child is no more grateful to me than most 5 year olds. I don’t think he’ll be a very grateful teen. I do think he will start to appreciate me and his dad when he becomes an adult. That is the way it should be. Thanks again for saying it so well.

  5. Avatar Sam says:

    My husband and I are currently in the process of adopting from the foster care system. We have had others tell us that we are “such good people” for choosing adoption and it’s always a little nauseating. Adoption is in the public eye more than ever and yet many people still make the same unthinking, inappropriate statements. I have had close friends speak along these lines and besides the frustration I feel, what comes across is that they actually think they are saying the kind, right thing. My husband and I have actively wanted to be parents for 5 years now. We are getting pretty close and believe me it is palpable. There is no doubt that we will be the lucky ones! As members of this specific group, we all speak adoption and infertility very well. It’s hard to find the best way to communicate with those who do not share our knowledge and experiences. It is frustrating (I really want to let people have it sometimes) and I know we are going to meet with a whole new list of unbearable statements when our family is made. For now my husband and I vent to each other in private and pick and choose moments to educate others in public.

  6. What an interesting perspective, Dawn. As an adoptee, I believe that in the deepest crevice of our adoptee hearts, we love our parents dearly. We might not be able to tell them because we are wounded, or we might not be willing to tell them because we’re rebellious, but as an adopted person, it feels so incredibly good to be found. Just one adoptee’s perspective!

    • Avatar Dawn says:

      Oh, don’t get me wrong Sherrie. I do hope that some day my children appreciate me and what I do and have done for them. But I hope this of all my kids, regardless how they came to be mine. And to me, that hope is different from expecting gratitude.

  7. Avatar Julie says:

    Well said. There was just a post about the “changing face of Judaism” through adoption and how adoption is seen as “tikkun olam” (to heal the world). I don’t understand how healing it is when there is so much loss involved with adoption. And really, when you look at it honestly, it’s the parents of the children who are the lucky ones.

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