Better vs. Different

This post has been sitting in draft form since September 2012. It was prompted by a BirthMom Buds blog post, in which the author writes:

A local adoption agency is holding a workshop at my church for couples and families interested in learning more about adoption. This agency, whom I consider to be very reputable, has the tag line of Helping children and families find a better life. That got me wondering if that’s what I did. Did I help my child find a better life?

But did I really give her a better life? I gave her a different life than she would have had with me.

There can be no doubt that adoption gives adoptees different lives. My life would have been very different if I hadn’t lived with my (biological) parents, for example. Anyone’s would.

But adoption agencies and professionals often argue that, when she chooses adoption, a woman is choosing a better life for her child. Not just different, better.

There are some who will argue that adoption never results in a person having a better life. There are some who will argue that adoption always results in a person having a better life. Neither group of people is correct.

Because I know the people involved, I can say that Jackson has a better life – so far – than he would have had if he had remained with his birthmother. At first, I wasn’t sure, but now I do believe that Cassie has a better life than she would have had if she had remained with her birthmother. Whether that remains to be true, though, is speculation. We won’t really know until they reach adulthood, if even then.

Whether you’re a prospective adoptive parent or an expectant (birth) parent, I think it’s important to realize that your child is guaranteed only a different life, not necessarily a better one. Using the word better helps sell adoption as a nobler, better choice, when it’s not necessarily so.


2 thoughts on “Better vs. Different

  1. Robyn,

    I don’t know about today’s world because I think there is a greater diversity and challenges and it would be easier to make a distinction. I try to be aware of those differences today vs my era. I believe I am fairly typical for the era where most were middle class. I went from a middle class intact no problem loving family (either parent of birth), to a slightly higher income middle class family, dad was a doctor but to serve people regardless if they could pay or not. For me, you would have to say different – unless you factored in the discrimination laws against a person who was illegitimate that existed when I was born, then you could say better, never mind that they were repealed by the time I was an adult.

    I agree different should be the description put forth from a honesty standpoint. Anything else just seems too cut and dried, and nothing in adoption can be so easily sliced and diced.

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