Your “funny” adoption “jokes” are cruel!

I saw this, I loved it.
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I’ve often said that sometimes I feel we’ve become so obsessed with political correctness that we’ve almost become stupid out of fear for offending someone. And now, in this post, I’m going to completely contradict myself!

I am offended!

  1. resentful or annoyed, typically as a result of a perceived insult.
    “he sounded rather offended”
    synonyms:upset, hurt, wounded, injured, insulted, aggrieved, affronted, pained, displeased,distressed, disgruntled, put out, annoyed, angered, angry, cross, exasperated, indignant,irritated, vexed, piqued, irked, stung, galled, nettled, needled, peeved, ruffled, resentful,in a huff, huffy, in high dudgeon, fed up;

Watch this and then see if you can figure out why. 

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From all the discussions I’ve had with adult adoptee’s, one of the recurring themes was a sense of shame and fear in their search for self which is constantly perpetuated by ignorant comments and “jokes”. 

“Don’t mind him…. he’s adopted!”

You know what guys, there are some topics you just don’t joke about. Irrespective of whether you’re trying to be politically correct or not. If you have any sense of compassion, intellect and moral compass over what’s acceptable and what is not acceptable then you don’t make rape jokes or jokes about cancer and I feel that adoption jokes should be treated the same way. You don’t joke about something that is deeply personal, traumatic or emotionally painful for another human being. 


adoptiondemotivationalposter3These “jokes” are not funny. Not to me anyway and I doubt they’re funny to birth parents or adoptees either. They send a horrible message to a person already struggling with issues of primal rejection, that they are a throw away child. That they don’t fit in. That they’re not normal, that they have to try harder for acceptance. That at any moment, if they don’t conform or fit in, they will be tossed away like trash.

adoption jokes

The same applies to adoption “jargon”. Please, if you’re my friend or part of my family, don’t refer to my children’s birth mother’s as their “real” mothers, most especially not in front of them. Fastest way to make them feel like we’re not a “real” family is to keep referring to their birth parents as their “real” parents. Fastest way to to derail their journey of self discovery and sense of self is to constantly reiterate the fakeness of their parents. Their REAL parents, the ones raising them. 



I also think these “jokes” are hugely disrespectful to birth mothers. Adoption is not a decision that is entered into lightly. It’s not an easy choice to make, it’s not like either of my children’s birth mothers woke up one day and decided that having a child was too much trouble so they just “threw” their children away. It doesn’t work that way.


These “jokes” can only serve to make adoptees feel even more isolated and there must be a level of shame in them too, referring to them as trash or thrown away. Heck, I even hate the word “gave up” for adoption. Placed. Please say placed. Given up implies that there was a lack of thought or intent, and anyone who has been through the adoption process will tell you, this is simply not true.

So yes. I try not to get offended, but adoption jokes, along with rape jokes and disabled jokes and cancer jokes and a plethora of other “jokes” do offend me, insult me and hurt me.



  • Lizanne

    June 9, 2016 at 8:48 am

    I wholeheartedly agree, some things are ok to be offended about!! (I love the comedian btw) and he’s right, being offended isn’t the end of the world. But yeah the whole adoption thing or people saying they want to give their kids back or whatever is wrong. That said I wouldn’t mind some of that Nap Time spray occasionally for some peace… But wouldn’t give them away for anything!!! Heck I’ll adopt a whole heap given the chance!!

  • reluctantmom

    June 9, 2016 at 9:20 am

    Hi Sharon

    Earlier this week I was driving home from school. The car is always a powder keg for sibling issues.

    Isabelle (the youngest) is without question the biggest bully in the family. Her and Connor usually have a go at each other for most of the drive. Often in good humour, but it is pretty relentless.

    I am going to be driving kids to and from school for another 7 years – I am already 7 down – so I have learnt to “find my happy place” when they are fighting, instead of always getting involved and telling them how much they should love each other and then get them to sing Kumba ya and all that.

    Earlier this week Connor (the older child) chirped Isabelle, as a comeback to something she said, that “Isabelle, has mom told you that you are adopted?”

    And then he went on to mention it two more times in a similiar tone.

    I guess it was pretty much like the way we would tell our siblings that our parents got them from the zoo, and shaved them and had their tails cut off.

    I stopped Connor and explained to him that that was really an offensive thing to say – Connor has always been very aware of infertility/surrogacy/adoption and all of those themes, as we have been having discussions about this easily since he was 5 – 6 years old.

    I said to him that he knows children who are adopted, and how would they feel, or their parents feel if he said something like that in front of them.

    Initially he had a bit of a “senior moment” and said “who is adopted” – he seemed to have no idea – and then I reminded him.

    I think that the children who he knows are adopted, have been in their families with their mom and dad for so long, that he has forgotten that they are adopted, and does not think about them as such.

    I also thought of you when he said “you are adopted” and meant it as an insult to his sister. Somehow that he was more of the “child” than her. Which I felt was hurtful.

    To be honest, I did not stop him because I felt Isabelle would be hurt by what he said, I stopped him because I felt you would be hurt if you heard a child say that to another child or sibling.

    I read this piece, and I watched the videos.

    The comedian raises many valid points for me – and that is that we as a society are so easily offended. I think if we took everything away from our speech and our actions that would offend someone there would just be nothing to say.

    I realise that this issue is very personal for you – and you would be far more alert to these flags than say I was.

    But at the same time — I am also very cautious that we are becoming a society of “I am so offended” by pretty much anything. If we can’t make jokes about Zuma, Eskom, Telkom, and guys who go to shopping malls in rugby=shorts without shoes, then really what do we have left???

    Naptime is a really funny video – not because I am unaware of the references to adoption, using it as a date rape drug, using it to assist with kidnapping and all of that are likely to offend everyone, but because I am a parent, and the idea of chloroform in a bottle that I can use on my kids on occasion is something I can fantasise about.

    Anyway, that is my 73 cents – I enjoyed this piece – if you don’t mind I am going to make a reference about this on my blog.

    • Sharon

      June 9, 2016 at 9:43 am

      What a great comment Celeste. Thanks so much for taking the time to respond. I totally get what you’re saying, I’m way more sensitive about this topic than what others would necessarily be, but that is because I am more aware. Having said that, I feel like part of the reason I blog as an adoptive mother is to enlighten people too.
      And yes, I agree with you on the offensive thing. But I do feel there is a difference between offensive and cruel.

    • catjuggles

      June 9, 2016 at 11:20 am

      Sharon, honestly I think you can be totally offended – or whatever term we use. They are cruel and honestly not thought through. But I guess it is also true that you will feel it closer to home than I do. Just as I get very upset about the ADHD/medicine comments – those where people say it is because you dont discipline your kids enough and use ADHD as an excuse to medicate your kid or the ADHD jokes. Yes, some of them are funny and I “get” it = but then let me joke about my kids running amok at 12 at night and not you that do not have to be awake at 12 to see this. You are not laughing with me – you are laughing at me – and my child. And yes, I take offense.

      • Sharon

        June 9, 2016 at 12:01 pm

        Ja, like I totally get that the Nap ad was funny, but it would have been funny without the adoption line too. I dunno, I’m still trying to figure my way through all of this.

    • Elizabeth Pitcher

      June 9, 2016 at 11:54 am

      I found your blog by way of Paula Gruben. Thank you!! I have felt this about adoption jokes for a very very long time. I was adopted as a baby and my mom and family are my only family. I have a brother and a baby sister who are both my parents natual children. My brother can’t have kids and has adopted 2 children with his wife. Adoption is a HUGE part of our famlies psyche. People make jokes about subjects that they feel uncomfortable about – they don’t understand it, so shame it. It isn’t nice.I am in no way little miss PC let me tell you I do enjoy a good chuckle, but really people who have not been involved with adoption (in any way) have no idea about the hurt their words or jokes make. When we were younger my little sister would often say “I wish you were never adopted – go away now”. My mom would get so cross with her. As much as kids can be cruel, adults can often be much worse. “Are you going to find your “real” mom?” – Umm no, actually don’t want to. I have a mom. This hurts when people constantly remind you of where you came from. Any way. Thank you for this post. It was awesome.

      • Sharon

        June 9, 2016 at 12:00 pm

        Thank you Elizabeth and thank you for your comment. I so appreciate the input of adoptees on my blog as I’m desperate to be the best, most enlightened mom I can possibly be for my kids! 🙂 And that “real” mom comment really makes me see red, especially when it’s said in front of my children, way to make them feel like they don’t belong asshat!

    • Joyce

      June 10, 2016 at 11:50 am

      Amen, Sharon. I can’t even believe there are such callous people out there… When someone says something offensive to me I am normally so stunned that I can’t say anything back and only think about comebacks afterwards and then I am too much of a coward to go back to them and say what I wanted to say. I better practice a few lines for when I come across arseholes who come up with jokes like these in front of me, otherwise I might just physically attack them. UGH!!!


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