Forever Family: “forever” family

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.

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*  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?

7 thoughts on “Forever Family: “forever” family

  1. I sometimes relate to your posts from the standpoint of a woman who married into two children. I’m sure they’re apples and oranges, really, but that’s how I relate to them. Sometimes I’ll be talking about my older kids and mention their mother and a listener will say, “Oh, they’re not your real kids.” I never can define it for people. Real? I am the mother, I raised them every single day. It doesn’t discount the feelings of other parties, but the parents are who take care of the children. Parents mold and shape and sacrifice and make an effort. It’s odd to me that we live in a society that values children so much, with so many kinds of families and still the oddly personal questions. But then, we treat partnership the same way, saying, “Oh they just live together…” — Weird justification is ever needed for love by any name, isn’t it?
    At the end of the day, in the quiet of the house, everyone goes to sleep knowing it’s their house, their family, their pets. No one’s lying awake wondering if they’re meeting the societal expectations of those relationships, hm?

    Liked by 1 person

    • I do find it interesting that stepparents (even the “step” added on) have caveats on their parenting. You love a child, you raise a child, they are your child. Another might also claim them but there are so many kinds of love…why on earth would we quantify or lessen one?!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Truly. I’m glad you weren’t offended by my comparison. We maybe had physical custody, but we didn’t put a boundary on their love for the rest of their family. I think the more love a kid has, the better 🙂 Well, make that person: The more love a person has 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

        • Oh no, you didn’t offend me at all. I think there are fewer families that would have been considered the “norm” in the 1900s (early and mid). Families come together in so many different ways now — remarriage after death or divorce, adoption or surrogacy, LGBT families, multigenerational families, and on and on and on — but we have so much more in common than people want to think.
          If only more people took the approach that more love always makes things better, the world would be a wonderful place.

          Liked by 1 person

  2. Anytime you feel like you need to upsell who you are over others – don’t. “Forever Family” is upselling, as in we are better than a regular family. Just like those pithy adoption sayings that upsell adoptive families and downgrade biological families – just don’t. Either you are a family, or you aren’t.

    The only caveat to the term forever family is that *some* who’ve been adopted as much older children/teens found comfort in the term, as in, finally, a permanent family.

    To me, personally, when I hear Forever Family, my mind now goes instantly to someone adopted an animal from shelter…

    Liked by 1 person

    • I don’t think I’ve ever felt like an adoptive family that was implying they were better than a biological family; it seemed like they were emphasizing the permanence of their family. I just wondered why we so often feel the need to push that angle, but joey’s right — it’s often in relation to other’s questioning. Thanks for sharing your point of view!

      Like

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