July 25th, 2011
Posted By:


I have been very sporadic in my blogging this summer–well, not sporadic as much as absent!  Sorry about that.  I just can’t seem to get in sync with all of the summer activities:  pool, camps, sleepovers, bike rides, playdates….  I find myself running from sun up to sundown.  When school is in session the kids are just as busy (or actually, more so) but at least they go to bed early, so I can get up early and blog.  During the summer, they are up really late–and so I am up late, and then I sleep in.

But I saw something in the paper last week that really touched me and I felt compelled to blog about it.  I saw an obituary that really made me sad.  The deceased was only 37–which is sad enough–but what stood out for me was the opening phrase of the obit.  ”Mary Smith (not her real name) adopted daughter of Roger and Paula Smith, passed away at her home on Tuesday, July 19th….”


The phrase “adopted daughter” hit me hard.  Whoever wrote the obituary–Mary’s parents, siblings, or friends–felt compelled to include that word “adopted” in the opening line of her memorial.  It was as if her adopted status  was the central characteristic of her life, the overriding feature and nothing she did in the 37 intervening years she was on the earth could usurp that aspect of her identity.

It made me wonder about Mary herself and if she felt different from her siblings because she was adopted.  I hope not.  And I guess that most I can hope for is that it was written by someone not close to her or her family.  I know that historically there has been a certain amount of shame associated with individuals who have been adopted, but I thought that our attitudes had changed enough so we no longer parse people out based on their adopted status.

This obituary suggested that we still have a ways to go.
Photo Credit

3 Responses to “A Sad Obituary”

  1. tsuzan says:

    I can understand why your gut reaction might be just as it was. I would like to suggest a different scenario for you. If May was adopted in 1974, adoptions were nor normally very open then, and some adoptees from that time can really struggle to find their birth families. Is it feasible that adding the “adoptive” could be a way to help with a search that a birthmother or birthfather may be on? What little information they may have to work with may track them to Mary’s obituary, and thus to her family.

    It’s just a thought. My grandson has a sibling who is also through adoption and a brother who is not. Each of those children are just referred to as son or daughter. That is just the way I would want it for him. Times now are very different from times then, and I feel blessed that I am getting to reap the rewards of the hard work of the adoption community in years past.

    In the grieving family’s place, would I have phrased it that way? I would not, because my grandson is in an open adoption. He knows who I am and where I live. If it was a loved one who was in search – perhaps I would have made reference to it somehow. There would be a better way than the way it was phrased, though. Adoptees have enough to deal with without being made to feel different.

  2. hnrchpl says:

    There could be another explanation as well. I have friends who have an adult “adopted daughter”. She isn’t really their daughter at all, but they call her an adopted daughter as a way of expressing their love and commitment to her. They came to know her after she was an adult, and she eventually even started using their surname, even though there was no legal adoption process involved. In this case, the title makes her feel included, not excluded.

    Just a thought.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.