Chances are, you've already seen the video "If you wouldn't say it about a boob job, don't say it about an adoptive family" that's been making the social media rounds and gathering LOLs from scads of adoptive parents. In case you missed it, here you go:
Billed as a "public service announcement from adoptive families everywhere," the video, created by Jesse Butterworth, lead pastor at Rain City Church in Bellevue, Washington, and an adoptive father of a one-year-old girl from Ethiopia, attempts a humorous look at the intrusive questions adoptive families often face. Butterworth's wife, Marisa, also appears in the video as Butterworth acts the buffoon, pretending to drool over her breasts/the child in her arms, played by the couple's adopted daughter.
Questions like, "Are those real/Is that your real daughter?" rang true for many adoptive families and helped make the video a viral sensation. However, I chose not to share Butterworth's video when it passed through my Facebook feed. I appreciated his attempt at humor, but I just didn't think it was that funny. Butterworth's desire to educate those outside the adoption community about proper etiquette is great, but I was uncomfortable with some of the pastor's coaching. For example, Butterworth suggested that instead of asking an adoptive parent, "Is that your real daughter?", a more appropriate question would be, "Is that your biological daughter?" Really? Why not suggest people simply ask, "Is that your daughter?" or better yet, urge them not ask strangers intrusive questions in the first place?
Adult adoptees have also had a strong reaction to the video. At the blog Lost Daughters, several adoptees shared their issues with the video in a thoughtful roundtable discussion. Here are a couple of comments that echoed my own discomfort with Butterworth's initiative.
The first thing that screams out to me is sexism. Adoption aside, I cannot imagine this would be seen as funny if a woman was staring at a man's private area asking these ridiculous questions.
I'm certain that it is frustrating for adoptive parents to be asked inappropriate questions. However, what is obviously missing from this video is the child's perspective on how these comments make them feel. Is it really somebody else's business "where they are from?"
If we're going to be compared to a boob job...let's look at it more closely. Boobs are sought after and paid for to enhance someone who needs them; who isn't content with that they have. They are not actual flesh, but hoped to be seen as flesh, even though they aren't, and never can be. There are risks involved, but may not be communicated clearly, or heard, because of the desire of the surgeon to profit, and the customer to gain something they desperately want. This comparison they use only solidifies the fact that adopted people are seen as extensions. Without flesh enough to warrant our identities as human beings...and like others have said, like a boob job, we are defined (amended birth certificate and all) as an extension of others, rather than as a separate entity with rights of our own.
Finally, although Butterworth didn't really make me laugh, this comment on about the video posted on the TodayMoms website did provoke a wry smile:
As a breast cancer survivor and recipient of a "boob job," I'd like to point out that ignorant people will say ignorant things regardless of the circumstances. Suggesting they think about a boob job won't make a difference - they will still ask "are those yours?"