May 4th, 2007
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In a recent post of Sandra’s, she mentions the possibility of a family wanting an “invisible adoption.” Her comment triggered some thoughts on the mere concept of an invisible adoption. I wonder how much the adoptions of the past followed this theory? I am aware that in the past some so-called “experts” agreed with the theory of adopting a child who would look like the rest of the family.

On the surface, the idea of adopting a child who would feel as though they fit in by looking like everyone else might make some sense. However, I wonder how much of a temptation to carry the invisible adoption theory even further might be. Closed adoptions definitely can make the birth parents invisible. Except these days, you cannot be certain that they might not magically reappear with adoption searches becoming more acceptable.


However, the whole theory of an invisible adoption makes me squirm a bit. No offense to Sandra, she was just presenting the realities of what some people want. There is no doubt that some adoptive parents want to play down the idea of a child that they adopt having a past. Honestly, I hope parents wanting to pretend that a child has no past are rare.

Trends seem to indicate that parents who adopt these days recognize the folly of the pretense of an invisible adoption. Particularly when adopting internationally, adoptive parents seem much more aware of the potential harm of ignoring a child’s culture and home country. Many parents adopting internationally now get as much information as possible at the time of an adoption about birth family as well. Some adoptive families now undertake searches for children that they have already adopted from other countries. I see all these developments as healthy for children.

Mo, Korean adoption blogger, often talks about presenting opportunities for her son to be exposed to his Korean birth country. Interestingly enough, Mo and her son were both adopted from Korea, so that puts her in a unique position of understanding the benefits of not pretending that a child has no ties to their birth country. At least physically, she does have an invisible adoption, but I can tell that she is solidly based in reality with no need for any pretense.

An invisible adoption reeks too much to me of pretense and trying to ignore the idea that a child has a past, another family or sometimes another country. I think on many levels, it is a faulty concept to pretend that a child was not adopted. Many adoptive parents tried to do that in the past, and too often it backfired on them.

Although I do not believe it is necessary to mention a child’s adoptive status every second of every day, I think it is natural and healthy for it to be referred to on a regular basis. Adoption takes on tones of mystery, intrigue and darkness for a family if it is never discussed. An adopted child’s entry into a family should be celebrated as the unique event that it is, and making an adoption appear invisible is a bad idea.

Invisible But Real

4 Responses to “An Invisible Adoption?”

  1. My meaning had to do with the adoption being ‘invisible” to the casual observer, not to the family or to the child. Since there are those who would not choose to be poster families for international adoption simply because difference in roots are physically obvious, some prefer kids to resemble them in coloring.

    I sincerely doubt that many international adoptive families would ignore backgrounds. Just the reverse is more often the case with parents adopting the birth culture as well as the child.

    My posts today about “Bones that Float” is a good example, and certainly not a stand-alone when it comes to adoptive families going all out to keep birth cultures alive and part of daily lives.

  2. Jan Baker says:

    “My meaning had to do with the adoption being ‘invisible” to the casual observer, not to the family or to the child.”

    My point was that if they start out being invisible to the casual observer, is the temptation to get carried away and have the adoption be invisible to the family and the child? I agree that does not seem to be the current trend – most adoptive families do tend to be going in the opposite direction.

  3. ajjhmf says:

    My son looks remarkably like us. The casual observer would not know he is adopted. We did not choose this as we adopted from foster care and were open to any race. It just happened that way. In the beginning, it was obvious since J was 4 and suddenly popped into our lives. Now, nearly 4 years later, it’s less apparent. We don’t ignore his past. It’s part of who he is and that cannot be brushed under a rug. We don’t hide that he is adopted, but we also don’t broadcast it either.

    But at this point in J’s life he’s really struggling with fitting in. He struggles in so many areas in life. His speech, his social skills, his different special needs, that he doesn’t want to broadcast that he is adopted. He’s happy right now with that part of his life being a bit anonymous to the general public, so to speak. It’s his story at this point and he’s comfortable talking about it at home so I’m just going to let him decide if/when he wants to share it with the rest of the world.

  4. Jan Baker says:

    I have no problem with a child not wanting to broadcast his story.

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