Stop Calling Adoptees ‘In the Fog’

A.J. Bryant
4 min readMar 27, 2023

It’s othering and portrays a false narrative

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Since joining the adoptee community in 2007, I’ve come across the term ‘in the fog’ to describe adoptees. As far as I can tell this designation means that the adoptee still sees their adoption as a fairy tale story, and hasn’t wrestled with its emotional consequences.

Frequently, this designates their general attitude of gratefulness about the process. It also usually includes naivety. And from what I’ve seen shows an innocence about adoption procedures that the namers long ago found false.

If you want to call yourself ‘in the fog,’ that’s fine. If you want to describe your adoption awareness and evolution of knowledge in that language I have no issue with it.

But don’t use it as a label for other adoptees. Adoptees need to stop using this term for two main reasons. It’s othering and it characterizes a fiction that adoption consciousness is linear.

It’s sad to see adoptees create distinctions between themselves. I understand that creating ‘in’ and ‘out’-groups is human nature. And making societal barriers is a bug of humanity. But saying another adopted person is ‘in the fog’ is unnecessary.

For a sub-population that consistently discusses its marginality and visibility, I find it strange that they choose to denigrate other adoptees. All in the name of what they don't ‘get’ or ‘understand’ about that which ‘non-fogged’ adoptees supposedly know.

For one adoptee to say to another, ‘you’re in the fog and don’t know what you’re talking or writing about,’ is cruel and needless. It creates walls and resentment. When an adoptee says that another one is ‘in the fog’ it smacks of elitism and privilege. Again for a cultural group fighting for recognition, this language is hurtful.

I’ve heard adoptees say someone is ‘in the fog’ and then basically ignore them because they don’t ‘qualify’ to speak as an adoptee in the other person’s mind. What!? Do you even hear yourself when you say that? I’ve heard variations of that exact conversation from social workers, adoption consultants, and others in the community.

There are NO experts on adoption itself. None. Every single person is an expert in their own story. Some may have academic…



A.J. Bryant

Adopted from Kerala. I write about adoption, my intercultural marriage, and contemporary India. Prawns are my love language.