Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Let me help you.

I have thought about doing this list for a while, and I'm always afraid I'm going to offend someone. But the truth of the matter is, it's good for people to know; as well as the fact that it may help to keep you from offending someone else.
My husband and I were prepared for the comments and staring when we adopted transracially. However, few of the comments that get to me have anything to do with being an interracial family. For some reason when people don't know what to say about your child they get diarrhea of the mouth and just start talking. It makes for some good laughs sometimes, but also for very awkward moments as well as painful things being said. People who adopt from other countries probably experience things differently, but here is my list of things I don't want said to me about adoption...and most of the other adoptive parents I know feel the same way. I should warn that I have a dry and sarcastic sense of humor, and although I don't often respond with what I'm thinking, I will share it here.

*Why didn't her mom want her, why did she give her away, and any variation of this...ESPECIALLY in front of my child. Her mom did want her, that is why she chose to not have an abortion. She chose to place her for adoption because she thought that was best for her daughter.

*Why did you adopt a baby when there are older children. Why did you adopt from here when there are orphans waiting in other countries. (And my friends who have adopted from other countries hear why did you adopt from somewhere else when there are children here who need homes)? This question is silly. Asking about someones adoption is fine, phrasing a question like you disapprove of their choice is not. People choose different adoption choices for different reasons. And EVERYONE I have ever had ask me why I didn't adopt an older child has biological children. Guess what. You didn't have to choose between an infant or older child. You were guaranteed an infant. It is GREAT for people to adopt older children. It is perfectly fine for me to want an infant.

*Why can't you have children? I am rarely actually offended by this. It is a weird personal question though. If I have never had a conversation with you before, don't ask. My temptation is to tell you something ridiculous about my husband and I's intimate life. I have other friends who have struggled through infertility and don't want to answer this question at all. So be sensitive to the fact that this is a hard subject for some people, and just don't ask.

*Once you adopt you will get pregnant. Once again everyone I know who has adopted has had this said to them. It's annoying, unhelpful, and makes me want to throw things at you. We adopted, and we did not get pregnant. I know you know someone who knows someone who has had this happen. I know way more people who have not. Even if you are thinking it, if you must say it out loud, wait until you are alone.

*Why did you adopt a black baby. This question has been rare, but still asked. My answer. We didn't. We adopted the child that God brought to us. We personally don't believe in choosing spouses, or children based on skin color. We are aware of issues that come up because of racial differences and are doing our best to meet them head one. We will never choose to adopt or not adopt bases on race or special needs.

*What's wrong with her. (This warranted a confused look from me). You know because most kids who are given away have something wrong with them. I will not ever go back in the store of the sales lady who said this to me. EVER! I am certain there are people who choose to abort, or place a special needs child. Not every child placed is special needs.

*She looks like you. This is such an awkward comment. Abigail definitely has Jason and I's mannerism's. She also has her tummy mommy's smile, and birth fathers eyes. I know in general when people see others with their children they want to tell them how much they look like them. And when a child is adopted and looks nothing like their parents it makes some people unsure of what to say. But really, she doesn't look like me. If this had been important to us we would have chosen a child who looks like us. You can just tell me how beautiful she is, how well behaved, how smart, or any other compliment. I don't need her to look like me.

*Any sort of thing being said to me about some day having a child of my own, her not being "ours" so on and so forth. Also comments like I want to adopt some day, but first I want to have a child of my own. She is our own. I don't care if I do know what you are trying to say with this. I do not think that our daughter we adopted is less than a biological, and she is our own.

*Was her birth mom a teenager, how old was her birth mom and so on. Once again this question is one that our friends know the answer too. However statistically speaking most birth parents are between the ages of 19-24. That's right, it is EXTREMELY rare for a teenage mother to place their child for adoption. In order for someone to be able to do this they must be extremely selfless. They must realize that even with the heartache of placing a child they are still doing what is best in the situation. Teenagers rarely have the emotional capacity to do this. So yes some teenagers place, most people who place are not teenagers. Abigail's birth mom was not a teenager.

*So it's like she's really yours, it's like if you had her. Yes, I was in the room when she was born. But it's not "like" she is really ours. She is really ours. And if we had adopted her at six months...still really ours. There are absolutely differences between giving birth and adoption. There is not a difference in how much I love my daughter. I loved her before I met her. I loved her for the three years we waited on a baby. And don't argue this with me. I have friends with bi logical and adopted children who would say the same thing.

*This one has only come up because we do have a girly with special needs. Did you know before you adopted her, would you have still adopted her, and the favorite thing said to me by a doctor, don't you wish you could just give her back. First of all it's a mute point. It doesn't matter if we knew before, and so on and so forth. The fact of the matter is, our child has special needs, and we do our best to walk through this. But, for us it would not have mattered. We were open to a child who was HIV positive, drug/alcohol exposed, any disability, or race. Because the fact of the matter is that there are no guarantees. Biological children do not come with the guarantee of health. Certainly there are things on that list that would not come into play if we had a biological child, but these were not things that would've changed our decision.

*She is so lucky to have you, think of where she would've been if....so on and so on. Nope, she isn't lucky. We are lucky. We are blessed to have her. You see without her birth mother choosing life, we wouldn't be parents. Once again thinking about where she would have been if...is a mute point. Her birth mother made the decision she did because of the "ifs" therefore we don't need to think about what might have been.

*People always want to tell me about their friend, neighbor, and so on who has adopted. It's awkward for me. You see it's the equivalent of me telling you that I know someone who has had a bi logical child. Of course I do, lots of people have biological children. And most people know someone who has adopted.

*One of my favorites. I have a black grand baby, niece, or some other relative. It's as if you need me to know that it's okay that we have a black child. I know it's okay. I don't feel uncomfortable with it. I do feel uncomfortable with the fact that I have no idea what to say to you.

All right this is the end of my ranting. If you have adopted and think of something I miss please leave it in the comments. Also know these are meant to be helpful. I say awkward things ALL THE TIME, and do my best to be graceful with people who say things to me that are awkward for me. It will just help you to know what to say for next time. :)


  1. You made some excellent points on this blog. Good tips for the typical moron out there.

  2. Wow, I can't believe that a doctor asked you if you regret adopting your daughter because of her NF. What am I supposed to do with my bio child with NF? There are no guarantees medically or mentally with any of our children.

  3. I have recently started following your blog.

    What a great truthful entry. Thank-you for sharing.

    You said; "Because the fact of the matter is that there are no guarantees. Biological children do not come with the guarantee of health. Certainly there are things on that list that would not come into play if we had a biological child, but these were not things that would've changed our decision."

    I just want to jump through my computer and give you the happiest biggest squeeze hug! What a great attitude.


  4. AMEN SISTER!!!! We get those same comments, just a little different b/c of our international adoption, why not here in the states, why not an older child, our Dr. (ped.) also asked if we were going to give her back b/c of NF, etc.. Thanks for expressing!!

    P.S. Let me know if you want to come up here.

  5. I love this list. I can honestly say I'm quilty of saying that I know someone who has adopted. I'll stop. I'm no stranger to crazy questions either with my special kiddo - one of my favorite ones is "so does she age quicker" - WHAT? I mean I know there's a disease that causes kids to age quickly but not ALL special needs kids. And another one "so how long is she supposed to live?" - yup, it's been said, more than once, in front of my little girl!! Seriously. We've gotten the "whats wrong with her" too and in my mind I think "nothing, what's wrong with YOU". But I don't ;)
    Also, thanks for the Girl Power FB post! Really appreciate it!!

  6. I enjoyed your post... I have not adopted, but my daughter is profoundly retarded. She'll be 28 and is still in diapers and can't do anything for herself. I have had dumb things said to me over the years as well. People are uncomfortable so, like you said, they get diarrea of the mouth! A doctor once said to me, "Life doesn't have to be so hard, why don't you put her in an institution?" I just stared at him, dumbfounded! We love her and we have chosen to take care of her out of that love... it is not easy, but Christ is our strength and we wouldn't trade her for the world!