I’m not sure when the term Forever Family was coined. I can see its appeal – a child comes into our lives in a different way, and we want to reassure her that it’s real and true and forever. That together we make a family…not if they’re good, not while it’s simple, but for life.
Yet there’s something about hearing the phrase “Forever Family” that triggers a reaction. Here, in no particular order, are some of mine.
* Aren’t all families “forever” families? We’re supposed to be bound by love and a commitment to one another. I can’t help but wonder if older adoptees ever find the term patronizing, as if their families are held together by adoption papers instead of their own merits.
* What happens to a child’s belief system when a Forever Family doesn’t last forever? Adoptive families are just as susceptible to statistics as the rest of the population – death, divorce, even long term separation due to career choices – how is a child supposed to react when the family that promised to be everlasting crumbles? Based on our own experiences I can tell you who the adopted child is likely to blame…themselves.
* Adoptive parents are all about authenticity. Nothing gets under our skin quite like someone questioning how genuine our family is. “Where is his real mom?” throws us into conniptions; “Do you worry that her real parents will come back for her someday?” is equally offensive. Yet even as we demand to be seen as just another family, we’re claiming unique status as Forever Families. The two positions strike me as flip sides of a coin.
* Simply put, are we trying too hard? Maybe strong and steady reassurance of our love is what a child – any child – really needs. Adoptive kids almost always face their own set of challenges, and a nifty slogan is just that. A slogan. “Forever Family” doesn’t have magical powers that erase an adopted child’s misgivings or confusion. Only consistent love, open communication, and Herculean strength as we walk with our children through the fire will help them do that for themselves.
I recognize the irony of my Friday series’ title. Why would I call them Forever Family posts when that phrase calls up so many questions, right? Well, we can debate the pros and cons of the term, but there’s no denying it’s definitively linked to adoptive families. Which makes it very effective when it comes to defining subject matter.
What are your thoughts?