Reader Mail: Kathryn

06/18/2007 at 08:37 PM ET

We received this very touching email from CBB Reader Kathryn today:

I just wanted to thank your team from the bottom of my heart. As a family being made through adoption, I am always saddened by the term ‘real parents’ ‘real child’ ‘natural child’ and constantly saying ‘adopted child’ when describing a child who came to a family through adoption. Your site is the only celebrity site or magazine that doesn’t do this, ever. I am so thankful. You remind me constantly that there are people out there, who may not be adoptive parents themselves, but that they know how to be sensitive and they ‘get it’. I am one of your long time readers & I have never once been offended by any of your postings about adoption. I always grin from ear to ear when you make wonderful comments like ‘they raise 4 children together’ or forgo pointing out which child is adopted.

You really do rock & I wanted to let you know that. Okay now I am crying!! Adoption is such an amazingly emotional and wonderful process, and for once it is happy tears instead of sad ones.

Whether or not you are an adoptive parent or have been adopted yourself, does it bother you when people refer to a child as adopted?


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Megan on

Yes, while I am neither adopted nor an adoptive parent it absolutely bothers me when people (especially in the media) use terms like “real child” or “natural child” or go out of their way to emphasize that a kid has been adopted, like their “adopted daughter” etc. I too was impressed by the tact and compassion shown by CBB.

MMM on

We are in the process of adopting a little boy and I often think about this and how I would handle these comments. Any suggestions? We have a daughter by birth now and I want them both to know that they are our children, no matter how they got here. I also want my son to know how proud I am of him and in adopting him. Tough, but I do commend CBB on their tactfulness.

Colleen on

I am in 100% agreement with this e-mailer. As a mom to 6 children, I never make it a point to mention that they are adopted when I am speaking about them. Terms like “real mom” and “real children” really bother me. My children are my real children, no matter how they came to be a part of my family!

Estelle on

I noticed too that CBB never points out which kids are adopted. I remember getting bothered by a caption for a photo in magazine. Angelina was with her daughters. It said something about daughter Shiloh and then said adopted daughter Zahara. Everyone on the planet knows which of her kids are adopted. It felt like they were trying to say this is her “real” daughter and the other one is just adopted.

Principesa on

I am mom thanks to the gift of adoption.

I find the term “own child” offensive. It raises the hackles on my neck. I also get asked about my son’s “real” mom (that would be me, as I am far from imaginary). I could go on and on.

Why is it that the media segregates adopted children?

Although CBB doesn’t use such adoption unfriendly language, links to stories used on CBB sometimes do.

I can think of a recent Sheryl Crow piece prior to her adoption of her son when she used the term “own child”, as did Penelope Cruz, and Claudia Schiffer.

I am happy to report, with absolute honesty and candor the majority of my interactions with people curious about adoption have been quite pleasant, respectful and genuine. I am very proud of being part of a family that grew through adoption.

Annoynomus on

Estelle- ITA! I think that Shiloh is beautiful and everything, but I think that magazines tend to want to make people believe that Shiloh is much more special than the other three Jolie-Pitt kids just because she is Brad and Angie’s biological daughter. Case in point: Shiloh was recently on the cover of US Weekly, and there was an entire article about her life so far in honor of her first birthday (granted, since it was US Weekly, the whole “Angie doesn’t love Shiloh” thing was probably brought up, and there were probably a few other lies as well). To my knowledge, US Weekly did not do an article on Zahara (much less put her on the cover) when she turned one (they didn’t do that for Maddox either, but when he was a baby, Angie and Brad weren’t together yet and there wasn’t nearly as much media interest in them). Shiloh is certainly not any more special than her siblings. Just because Mad, Z and Pax aren’t Angie and Brad’s biological kids does not make them any less special than Shiloh.
Personally, I think part of it is prejudice, especially where Zahara is concerned (IMO, if people are going to be prejudiced, they are much more like to be prejudiced against Africans than Asians).

Meredith on

My husband and I had completed our homestudy and were waiting for a potential match last summer when we-don’t-know-what-else-to-do-with-them frozen embryo transfer miraculously worked. We still plan to adopt any future children.

It definitely bothers me when media go out of their way to identify children as adopted. If it’s a situation with a new child where they were going to say “who was born so and so” and instead say “who was recently adopted blah blah blah,” that’s okay. And it it’s a story on adoption, then okay too. But when a child is forever identified as “the adopted one” it really annoys me. And I can’t bear terms like “own” or “real,” which I’ve noticed being thrown around recently by a couple of celebrities who claim to be thinking of adoption if they can’t have their “own” children. Argh!

Amanda on

I agree 100%. My daughter is adopted. She IS “my own” child. Just because she was born to us through adoption doesn’t make her any less our own. I know she was always my child. She wasn’t born from my womb, but from my heart.

I too appreciate that you don’t single out adopted children 😀

Thank you

KP on

‘Adopted’ is a past tense verb, not an adjective. It should not matter how a child comes to a family, just that they do. I applaud CBB.

KellyC on

I mostly agree with the emailer. I am an adoptive mother and cringe when others label my son. I don’t want the fact that he WAS adopted to define him. I do notice that other publications like to point out adoptees and make them stand out because of it, however CBB could be better – they are not completely leaving the label off.

sarah on

I dont have an adopted child, but I do have a step son, and a child with his father as well. It did bother me when I was pregnant, when people would ask about my pregnancy with my son. At times I would say “I didn’t give birth to him”, but that felt a lil harsh and cold. Now that they are older people ask about their stats, height weight, how they were as a baby. Since I wasn’t there for my sons babyhood, I just asked my husband and tell people as if I were his biological mother, especially since she took off over 3 years ago and has made no contact since, I see no point in involving her at all. I hate telling people that he is my step son, beacause he sure feels like “my own” and there is no reason to let people know other wise. Strange thing, when I decided not to tell people he wasn’t biologically mine, they started saying how he looks “just like his Mommy” which is a delight!!

Mom of Five on

I think CBB does a good job but could do a lot better. CBB allows comments such as “collecting kids” and the word “accessories” to describe adopted children to pass through your moderating system. This is extremely offensive not only towards the celebrity parents and their children but to all of us parents who have found their families through adoption. CBB may not be the one to write those words but by allowing offensive comments such as these to be posted you are in fact condoning them.

CBB Note: We will do a better job making sure those comments are not published.

three boys on

Yes! I am neither adopted nor do I have adopted children, but it always bothers me when children are segregated like that. It’s ridiculous! When I was little I had friends that were adopted and I never knew until we were all much older – it wasn’t pointed out like it is now. Your children are your children no matter what.

Busy Mom on

I’m adopted, and, as a matter of fact, I wrote about this a few days ago.

Jinnie on

I am adopted, as are my siblings. My birth parents may have given me life, but mom and dad taught me how to live. To me, they are my parents. The only time I use words like “birth parents” and “adoptive parents” are when I have to clarify that. We certainly don’t use them in the house.

I see a lot of adopting parents in this thread, and that makes my day. Take it from someone who grew up with it: adoption is a gift, a joy, and a privilege because an adoptee is chosen specifically. Be open with your children about where they came from. To this day, I meet a lot of young kids who haven’t been told yet they’re adopted, like it’s a shameful thing to hide, and that infuriates me.

CTBmom on

I have a 10 year-old son, who I adopted at birth. I have a sister-in-law, who when my son was a baby, would say things like “does his ‘real’ mother have blue eyes?”. I would always respond with “Yes, his BIOLOGICAL mother does have blue eyes.” After several months, she got the hint and just started refering to my son’s birthmother by her name(we have an open adopton). It might not seem like a big deal to some, and while I don’t dismiss that my son’s bmom is very REAL(she did give birth to him and they will always have that genetic bond)….I also am very REAL, as I am the one who got up with him when he was a baby, I’m the one who helped him take his first steps, who cried on his first day of kindergarten and who still gets up in the middle of the night to check on him. Those things are what makes you a “real” mother…and I will always be thankful to the woman who made it possible for me to do these things.

Annoynomus on

When I commented on this last night, I forgot to mention that, while CBB generally doesn’t refer to celeb babies and children as being adopted, I think that they could do a little bit better job than they already do. For example, I’ve noticed that, in articles about Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie, or both of them there is often a statement like:

Brad and his girlfriend Angelina Jolie raise four children: Maddox Chivian, who was adopted from Cambodia, Zahara Marley, who was adopted from Ethiopia, Pax Thien, who was adopted from Vietnam, and Shiloh Nouvel who was born to the couple in May of 2006.

Does it really need to be mentioned that Mad, Z, and Pax were adopted from various countries? I much prefer the articles where the Jolie-Pitt kids are referred to like this:

Angelina and Brad have four kids: Maddox, 5 1/2, Pax, 3 1/2, Zahara, 2, and Shiloh, 1.

CBB Note: That IS how we refer to them. We can’t even recall posting a paragraph like you mention unless we were quoting Angelina on wanting to raise her children with strong cultural backgrounds. Please point out where this was done. We’d be happy to fix it.

Annoynomus on

Here is an example of an article in which it was stated that Maddox and Z were adopted from Cambodia and Ethiopia respectively:

This article is the one where it was first announced on CBB that Angie had filed the papers to adopt Pax. In the post, you guys said that:

Angelina has said that she would like to adopt children of similar ethnicities for each of her kids. Maddox, 5, is from Cambodia, Zahara, 2, is from Ethiopia, while Shiloh, 8 months, has dual citizenships from the US and Namibia.

You need to look at this in the proper context as Angelina in the past had said she would like to -adopt children of similar ethnicities for each of her children-. That two of her children were adopted and where they were adopted is actually relevant to the thesis of the article. Please reread the entire quote:

Angelina has said that she would like to adopt children of similar ethnicities for each of her kids. Maddox, 5, is from Cambodia, Zahara, 2, is from Ethiopia, while Shiloh, 8 months, has dual citizenships from the US and Namibia.

Annoynomus on

You are right, the article DID state that Angie wants to adopt kids of similar ethnicities to each of her other kids. My mistake. I apologize.

Joy on

Yes I find it offensive. I would rather people just refer to my children as my children. I don’t mind if they know me and ask which ones are my biological children but to up and ask is rude. I love all my kids the same and it is obvious one is adopted but she does not need it thrown in her face every day.

Charity on

Why do people say such things? They are either your children or they are not.

You are their mother because you feed them, clothe them, get up with them in the middle of the night, take them to the doctor, cheer them on and love them no matter what. Which is something the woman who gave birth to your child couldn’t or wouldn’t do.

I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: TO ALL THE ADOPTIVE PARENTS, THANK YOU!!! There are so many needy children out there who need good homes and it is amazing to me that people are willing to open their homes to these kids.

Sylvie on

As an adoptive mother and avid reader of celebrity baby blog I echo these sentiments. Celebrity baby blog always uses positive adoption language.

Kat on

I also agree with this. I HATE it when the word “adopted” or “natural” is added…. it’s not important to label it… because there is just a parent and a child… no need to label how they came to that relationship.

My father was adopted and he would have been livid if anyone had done such a thing about him or his brother (who was also adopted). To them, their REAL mother and father were the ones that raised them… and that natural parents are the ones who love you and care for you.

The only term that could be used, if a child is adopted in an open adoption and happens to be out with the woman who gave birth to them would be the biological mother… or birth mother.

But as far as my father was concerned (and this is probably true for most of his generation and would probably transcend down even through the children being born today that the women who gave birth to them and the men who got them pregnant are not their mothers and fathers in any way, but carriers and sperm donors… who were simply people found in a difficult situation with an unplanned pregnancy who felt it was best that the child be given to the people who became their parents because that was what was best for the child.

Adoption is an incredible gift… and I know that anyone who gives or receives this gift would not want that child to be treated or talked about any differently than a biological child. The intent is to give them that wonderful family that the birth parents could not.

I really think that celebrity media feeds the desire for controversy and goes too far when they label children this way.

Emma on

I am neither adopted nor a mum of adopted children, but I do have two sisters – one adopted and one not. I have always been saddened by the media’s (and other people’s) need to point out when a child has been adopted – often years after the event. Being adopted is neither unusual nor sensational – so why make such a big deal of it? Congratulations to CBB for making all families feel equal, no matter how they were formed.