By: Aunt Pam
Greetings Tompkins Family! I know there’s no big gathering coming any time soon but I felt compelled to write to you all to remind you of something that’s been bothering me for a while. Specifically, some of you are treating your adopted cousins differently than you treat the regular members of the family.
I can’t believe I have to say this to you but Martha and Douglas are almost the exact same as people who are actually related to us and discriminating against them is wrong. Just because our family is a second try for them doesn’t mean that they should feel excluded from ours. Trust me, they know that they are strangers to our family; they probably think about it all the time. They don’t need your reminders.
But I’m not trying to lecture anyone here. Instead, I want to share some productive tips for being more open-minded like me. For example, I make sure to have their contact info filed away in a family subfolder in my e-mail titled: “Adopted”. That way they never feel left out and I’m always reminded that they’re technically family members.
Now, I don’t expect everyone to rise to the level of my own tolerance but there are small things you can do. Rather than always talk about yourselves, try talking about their interests! Next time we all get together, why don’t you try asking them about where they came from and if they know why they were put up for adoption. Ask if their parents had drug issues or maybe just didn’t like them. Include them in your brainstorming! If you show that you want to learn about their hobbies, they’ll feel more included.
In fact, since I’m sure they are interested in finding their real parents, why don’t you all offer to help them track them down. Think about that for a second: they’re forced to spend all their time with our family knowing that there’s someone out there who they should be with instead. Put yourself in their shoes.
Or if all that is too hard, try talking about famous adoptions in popular culture since they can probably only relate to those kind of stories. Some options are Harry Potter, Annie, or Jesus. Offer to watch This is Us with them and have a debrief afterwards.
I’ve tried mentioning all this to Aunt Tina and Uncle Bart but they just get upset when I do. I get it. I’ve read that adopted children often come with a bunch of issues and it’s got to be tough. That’s even more of a reason to give them some special treatment and not leave them out. I hope you all keep my words of advice in mind moving forward. Just because Doug and Martha aren’t true family doesn’t mean you shouldn’t pretend like they are!