Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Adoption and Society

Language and phrases are used in our culture when it comes to adoption. There are many well meaning people who say things that are not only hurtful but insulting. You have to think about adoption in a different frame of mind. Those who have adopted or who have experience with adoption are much more attuned to the etiquette that comes with adoptive families.And, it is important to keep in mind that families with adopted children do not feel any different than those families with all biological children. They don't see themselves as being different because simply put, they are parents. How they became parents doesn't mean a thing.Here are some examples of scenarios that have been know to happen:

1.A woman has both biological children and adoptive children. An acquaintance or even a complete stranger asks," Which ones are yours?" The mother responds to this questions,"Well they're all mine. What do you mean?" People are curious. Adoption is a curious topic for most. The woman simply wanted to know which children were biological and which were adopted. And, there is nothing wrong with asking that question. It is all in how you phrase it.

2. An adoptive family, most likely bi-racial, is grocery shopping and a complete stranger comes up and asks,"How much was your kid?" You can see how this statement can be construed as not only completely rude but very insensitive. The correct answer to this stranger's blatant curiosity is, "Do you mean how much does it cost to adopt a child?"

3. Often times people feel uncomfortable when told that a couple is adopting. They don't know if they are supposed to have the same reaction as if they heard an expectant parent of a pregnancy. There may be light hearted comments about the child's ethnic and national origins. This however, is very hurtful to the adoptive parents. People need to understand that expectant adoptive parents are just as excited and nervous as those waiting to give birth. There is the same joy and exhilaration that goes with waiting to become a parent.

4.Strangers can be very nosy and curious in general when it comes to rearing children. Friends of ours have told us stories about being in public with their biological children and being stared at and given unsolicited advice. When a family is bi-racial and it is obvious that the child is adopted, people can be even more nosy and judgemental by saying some very hurtful and alarming things. For example,"If you were that baby's real mother/father, you could get them to stop crying, fall asleep, etc." I am not making these things up. These are experiences we have heard from other adoptive parents. It is a fact of life. The general public who has no personal experience with adoption (or infertility or many other situations) can be insensitive and uneducated.

The worst part to think about is in the future when the baby becomes a toddler and interacts with other children or understands from adults that they are different. Kids can be very hurtful and as parents we can and will do everything to be open with our child about being adopted and hopefully give them some useful answers to kids curious questions or even nasty remarks. Let's face it, all kids have hardships in school with fitting in or feeling wanted. But, this is something we can actually begin preparing for right now.
How will we answer our child's questions about adoption? How will we react to people when they say rude things? We will educate, we will try to help people understand more about adoption.
It is not rude to ask questions about adoption. People are innately curious. It is important to think twice before posing your question. A different choice of words can make all the difference.

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