“Forever Families”

“Forever Families.” It’s a term bandied about the adoptive community – parents and adoption experts (social workers, agency directors, etc.). I’ve been guilty using it myself, especially when my oldest daughter was a baby. But, times change and what once sounded good makes me uncomfortable now. I feel the term was created by a well-intentioned adult for the purposes of reassuring adoptive parents. I can’t and don’t embrace the term.  p6050261


As my kids have become older, I realize that they and I have become more sensitive to some of the terms and accepted ideas within the adoption community. The well meaning terms can do more harm than good. “Forever Families” can create suspicion and distrust with the adoptee, evoking uncertainty. Let me put it this way, have you ever heard a non-adoptive parent apply the term “Forever Family” to theirs? I’m betting your answer is “no”.


I want my family to speak for itself by demonstrating that we‘re a family. My family and the relationships within it are built on sharing and trust of moments and interactions.  There is no need to say “Forever Family”; our actions and our relationships show that we are a family, like any other.


p8080302Forever Families happen when parents love their child – even when their behavior isn’t the best. Forever Families happen when parents and children spend time with one another appreciating and embracing their interests, similarities and differences. Forever Families happen when parents show their children they are valuable members of the family. Forever Families happen when birth family, culture, race, and ethnicity are acknowledged and embraced. Forever Families. Don’t say it; be it.




Filed under Family, Forever Families, International Adoption, Multicultural Families, Parenting

3 responses to ““Forever Families”

  1. Beth Mink

    Hi dearie, My throat choked up when I read this. So much pain has been experienced by adoptive children and children of divorce. Noone wants to be second choice. I think for all children, they need to know they were first choice – “best day of my life is when you were born” kind of relationship to their parents, ” I would die for you” relationship. I think you convey that in your writing. I spoke of the pain of my parents divorcing, and our mutual friend said, “at least they divorced. My parents torture me by staying together. ” There is another aspect of childhood experience, that has something to do with self will and attitude of the individual. Someone can come from the most abusive circumstances and still be effective and compassionate in her own life. Nature over nurture. Semantics is important, but actions more, like you concluded.

    Now that I think of it, I think geography has a large part in how mixed race families are accepted. Sincerely, Beth

  2. Thanks Heidi – and good point!

  3. I’m not sure it’s an either-or proposition. Especially children who lost first/birth parents they can remember, need to know from early on that we are not going away. This is communicated by actions, but by words as well. Words are powerful — they provide a point of reference, a basis on which to interpret the actions themselves.

    With children being raised by their biological children, the “forever” part is built in to their collective experience. With adoption, I’m not sure it’s the use of “forever” that puts the questions in their heads so much as the reality of (and loss associated with) the adoption itself.

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