Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Adoptive Parents are Expecting Too

Shortly after my husband and I decided to adopt I was in a group of acquaintances and strangers when someone congratulated me on our decision. Others proceeded to say congratulations and ask questions such as, where are you adopting from? Do you know if it is a boy or girl, etc.? I explained that we were adopting from S. Korea, and we had just begun the process. Then a person remarked," You better take that 'Made in Korea' sticker off right away." Feeling awkward I abruptly ended the conversation and left the room. I had been warned through my adoption class that people may make inappropriate and hurtful comments. But, nothing can prepare you for being in the moment, blindsided by a rude remark. The comment was not only prejudice but completely unfounded; it reminded me of something a kid would say, not a 50 year old man. Through these experiences I have come to learn that many people simply do not know how to react to the news of adoption.

When we hear of pregnancy, the reaction is easy- joy. The questions and comments are commonplace. When are you due, do you know the gender, what names have you picked out? With adoption there is a lack of understanding that the adoptive parents feel all the same emotions as expectant parents through pregnancy: anxiety, excitement, financial worries etc. In fact, many don't regard adoptive parents as expectant parents at all. They are looked at in a different light. There is a story behind the adoption that harbors curious questions or thoughts. Adoptive parents often receive comments like," Oh, well you'll adopt and then get pregnant right away." This is hurtful because it diminishes the excitement of the adoption by making it sound like it is a means to an end and not a happy and joyous way to become parents. Other remarks include,"Oh, that child is so lucky to have you. You saved their life." Or "How much did your baby cost?"

Again, the adoptive parent is faced with negativity when trying to celebrate the milestone of their pending parenthood. As adoptive parents we are trained on how to answer insensitive questions gracefully by reminding people that we as the parents are very lucky to have our adopted child. We educate people by pointing out that the baby didn't cost anything, however the adoption process entails paying agency fees, attorney fees, and travel fees to name a few of the costs. I have never heard anyone ask a pregnant woman how much she paid in medical bills to have her baby.

Generally adoptive parents are open to questions about their adoption because they want to share their planning for the child's arrival and the feelings associated with bringing a child into their lives. Just as a pregnant couple speaks of the ultrasounds or the baby kicking in the womb, an adoptive parent will be excited to fill everyone in on the steps they are making towards bringing their child home.

The decision to adopt is very exciting, and can be equivalent to the announcement of a pregnancy. "The Match," when adoptive parents find out who their child will be, is like an ultrasound. The child is visible, the concept of becoming parents becomes more real. Progress reports from the adoption agency which sometimes include photos would be comparable to the different stages of pregnancy and how the baby develops. An adoptive parents gestational period can unfortunately be much longer than nine months. Depending on what type of adoption a couples undergoes the entire process can take years. Our wait period from the time we received our referral (the match with our son) until he came home was rather short, 7 months.

The concept of having the bag packed and ready to go when the mother's water breaks holds true for adoptive parents as well. We were given a rough estimate of when our son would come home, but we waited anxiously for "the call" from the agency saying the paperwork had cleared, and he was ready to come home. I received the call at work, and it was one of the most thrilling days of my life. My son was finally coming home after all of the waiting and planning. We had tried for 4 years to conceive a child; the ability to say our son would be in our arms in 3 short days making us parents was a huge milestone for my husband and I.

The "delivery" of our son was a lot less painful no doubt. He came over from Seoul to JFK escorted by someone hired by the agency. When he rounded the bend in his umbrella stroller, he looked exactly like his pictures. He was there in the flesh and the kisses and hugs we received melted our hearts. At 15 months he was too big to be swaddled, but he was our little bundle of joy. We were elated to feel his skin, smell his hair, and look him in the eyes.

It was so wonderful to have a baby in the house. The adjustment consisted of sleepless nights, fumbling with bottles and baby food, and changing our first poopy diapers. We were learning about him and he was learning about us. One thing we did not have to learn but felt the instant we saw his picture was love. Our hearts and minds were open to a little boy that came into our lives through circumstance and luck.

How we become parents does not matter; we are caretakers and providers to little beings who need our love and guidance. After the baby showers, and births, and adoption finalizations are all done our children grow day by day. We face the same and sometimes different challenges with our children. We will explain to our son that he is adopted and tell him the story of his birth and how we became a family. Another set of parents may have to deal with a learning disorder or health problems. The love we feel for our children has no boundaries, it is colorblind and all encompassing. A child’s existence in our lives is a miracle no matter how the family came together.

98 comments:

Beautiful Mess said...

So beautiful! I've got chills! I don't understand some people! Even if it's ignorance that's causing them to say insensitive things, they still have common sense. I'm so sorry you were hurt by those comments. I hope this post will help some others who may not know what to say.
*HUGS*
P.S. Happy ICLW

Sunny said...

Very well said! That comment was ridiculous, who would even THINK that, much less let the words come out of their mouth?

I will admit, though, that one thing I do struggle with is the "what a lucky kid" comment. This is something I say to even my fertile friends when they have a new addition to the family, "What a lucky baby to have you as a mommy!" Because I have awesome friends who are great parents. I would say the same thing to an adoptive mommy, but NOT meaning in a way that the kid was doomed otherwise and "saved" by the adoptive family, if that makes sense.

A Mom in Jacksonville, FL said...

Lovely, eloquent post! :)

Lisa said...

You really captured many of the truths of the adoptive journey. Its such an all encompassing emotional time.....a journey with both highs & lows....agony and god willing, unabashed joy at the end.

Thank you for giving a voice to ALL parents.
Hope you are doing well!! :)
Lisa

tireegal68 said...

Great post! I was thinking tonight, we should say to people: before you ask my any questions or make any comments about my pregnancy / adoption / IF / loss, please read my blog.
That might cut down on the rude and thoughtless comments at least.
You are a great advocate!

Cassandra said...

Returning your ICLW comment...

People can really be jerks! International adoption seems to bring out extra bigotry.

I do think, though, that you'd be surprised by what people say to pregnant women, esp. when the pregnancy is known (or suspected, as with twins) to have resulted from IF treatments, including how much the baby/babies cost. But, even the fertiles get jerky comments about being too soon/too young, too late/too old, too closely spaced, et al. The bottom line seems to be that many people see others' family building of any kind as an invitation for them to question and comment.

I've seen adoptive parents met with support and understanding, and I've seen idiotic comments, ignorant questions, and rude remarks. I'd like to think that it's getting better as the general public gains more exposure, but I'm also afraid that people are feeling more and more entitled to make comments, even to strangers.

Yaya said...

What a brilliant post Erica. I love it.

I can't stand the 'oh you'll get pregnant now that you're adopting'. I'm like 'okay, that would be great, but I'm still really exciting about adopting too'.

Clare said...

Im sitting in a flood of tears as I read your post. It is so incredibly moving and you opened by eyes to a lot of things I had not considered before. I want to say congratulations to you on your beautiful family. Your final paragraph is something that will resonate with me for the rest of my life. Thank you. It is especially resonant as last weekend my husband and I decided that if we can't get pregnant we won't go the IVF route but we will try and adopt next year: http://thepitter-patter.blogspot.com/2009/05/what-if.html

We're in Morocco and my husband has Moroccan nationality so it's meant to be easier for us than most. But I doubt will get counseling or adoption advice from any professionals here. As always there are pluses and minuses. Happy ICLW.

looking4#3 said...

Beautiful post that literally brought me to tears!!! First tears of sorrow at how hurtful people can be, then tears of joy as the love you have for your child SCREAMED off the page!!!! Well DONE!!!! My girlfriend adopted a little girl from China. As soon as I found out she was working on the paperwork, homestudies, dossiers etc etc, I referred to her as expecting. She later told me, I was one of the only ones who did and how much it meant!!!
PS--she was expecting for 2 years!!
Happy ICLW!!!!!

Erika said...

Thanks for sharing. Your post was beautiful. I'm glad to know more of the journey you have been on and how to more properly respond to others in similar situations. Thanks again!

ICLW

infertilityrocks said...

I can't believe someone said that to you abotu the tag...how disgusting. Definitely goes to show that when people don't know what to say they gladly insert their foot. I loved reading this post since we are playing with the idea of adopting as well, so it just makes me so fired up to think of preparing for my own little one who grows in my heart as opposed to my womb.

Thank you so much for inspiring us all!

Lori said...

You may also have to remind people that human trafficking is, um, ILLEGAL.

I love how you describe your love for your son.

Wendy said...

Thank you so much for writing this. I linked your blog on mine; I hope that's okay with you :)

Overwhelmed! said...

You describe this process and anticipation so well!

We have received our share of rude and thoughtless comments along our adoption journey. It's not always easy but oh so worth it.

Karen said...

I'm here from Wendy's blog. I want to thank you for this post. I've received several "now you'll get pregnant" comments and just recently got the "what a lucky child" comment (we're waiting to adopt from foster care). I know those people mean well and I try to educate them, but sometimes I wish I could just be viewed as expecting like several of my coworkers are.

caitsmom said...

This is a wonderful post. Thanks for writing. As we move to considering adoption, it was helpful to read. Peace.

ICLW

Jeanne said...

Amazing post! Very well-written! I'm so glad Alicia (aka Yaya) posted a link to this prominently on her blog because I wouldn't have wanted to miss this one. :)

Jeanne

Me said...

What a beautifully written and loving post!

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T n' W said...

So very true. I'm still thrown back by some comments. Ignorance can be a very hurtful thing. Unless you've walked down that path, you just never know. Just yesterday, I corrected a close friend. She used the phrase..Oriential People. I had to explain to her that people were not oriential, things are. She meant no harm. Just a lack of knowlege. But there's a lot of that out there, how we respond to it, is what will make the most difference in our children's lives. Man, that really puts us on deck, huh.

Alyson and Ford said...

Great post, all so true. We were so excited about "having" our baby girl (adoption) but really couldn't be a part of those "expecting". We were looked upon with much difference and awkwardness.
Thanks for stopping by our blog.

Alyzabeth's Mommy for Eight Months

Michelle said...

Thank you so much for writing this post. The fact that people act so strangely when you tell them of your plans to adopt still baffles me. I have gotten everything from, "How much will the baby cost" to "Why don't you just get a dog?". It's amazing how even the most intelligent people can be reduced to blathering idiots on such a topic as adoption. I guess they were never taught the old adage: If you don't have anything nice to say...

Country Girl said...

Very well written. I follow YaYa's blog and saw the link to yours. My husband and I adopted our son from Russia in 2004 and I think we had some of the dumbest questions ever. He was 11 months old when we got home with him and everyone (other than immediate family of course ;o)) asked us if he spoke with an accent. HELLO! How many 11 month olds do you carry on conversation with? I can look back now and laugh but it was very hard to deal with at the time.

Stacey said...

Such a GREAT post! Thank you for taking your experiences and educating people about adoption. At this point I don't know what is down the road for me, but it sure helps me to better understand how to support friends who have adopted. Very helpful - thank you!

Amber said...

just found your site and have just started the process on adopting. Thanks so much for the wonderful post!

Krysta said...

Thanks so much for you post. We are in the process of becoming fost-adopt parents. I could relate so much to this post but I am extremely grateful for friends and family who are excited for us (as if this was a pregnancy).

Future Mama said...

Wow again! thanks for educating!! We adopted my brother but he was 4. I didn't hear the rude comments but I'm sure my parents did. Thanks for the wisdom! I'd love to throw an adoptive-parent baby shower! )

MrsM said...

In my experience, people say a lot of inappropriate things to pregnant women too. There will always be people who can't keep their comments to themselves, but it sounds like you are confident enough to handle them =)

Tania @ Larger Family Life said...

There are ignorant people ready to make inappropriate comments no matter what the situation - even in pregnancy.

I don't know if you've read the blog anotherespressoplease.blogspot.com but the author has such a beautiful way with words regarding her battles as an adoptive mother. I spent many hours praying for her and her family and she and her husband have recently adopted an older daughter and are currently going through the readjustment period. I can only imagine what a range of emotions you must go through and think you are all wonderful parents with such love to give. Your children are very lucky to have you.

Tania @ Larger Family Life said...

And yes, any child who is lucky to have loving parents, it doesn't matter if they've been adopted or not, is a lucky child. You've only got to look at the news to see how many children aren't so lucky.

JennyMac said...

Some people are so thoughtless.

Yours is a great perspective. Thank you for sharing it.

Little Miss Baker said...

you are a great mom and what a lucky little boy you have :) enjoy your SITS day!!

GreedyGirl said...

Hi www.greedygirlsguide.com checking in from SITS

Yaya said...

This is one of my favorite posts in all of blogland.

La Belle Mere UK said...

Wow what a lovely lovely posts.

As a stepmother I often get similar reactions from people who don't know how to react or just make silly comments. I console myself with the knowledge that they aren't trying to hurt us they just don't understand how it makes us feel.

But your right a parent is a parent, biological or not.

Congrats on your FB.

LBM xxx

Karen, author of "My Funny Dad, Harry" said...

I think adoption is so cool--to me it's a win-win situation for both parents and the child. Congratulations on your new family member! God bless!

Visiting from SITS.

Sandy Fights Fat and Blogs About Nothing said...

Some people just don't think, do they? However, it sounds like some did treat your choice to adopt as something to be excited about by offering you congrats, asking the sex of the baby, where they're from, etc.

It's a shame that sometimes negative words stick with us more than positive ones; it's understandable though and I've allowed the same to trouble me on various subjects.

Enjoy your day on SITS!

~ Sandy

Queenie Jeannie said...

Yours is a beautiful story of love!

Jacky said...

Aw...=) Such a happy ending AND beginning! =)

Happy SITS Day! =)

Julie @ Little One-of-a-Kind Design said...

i hope that man is 100% embarrassed and regretful of his comment. i have two close friends adpoting and they have told me some of the reactions people give them...so rude esp when adoptive parents are so selfless and so brave for doing what they do.

Amanda @ Serenity Now said...

Happy SITS Day!!! :)

Stacy (the Random Cool Chick) said...

Beautifully written and well said. I especially love your last sentence:

"A child’s existence in our lives is a miracle no matter how the family came together."

I couldn't possibly agree with you more! :)

Happy SITS Day! :)

Lula! said...

This was beautiful. Adoption has always been a blessing in my extended family and I'm grateful for it.

Life of a Stepmama said...

So true and I completely understand about the rude comments. Being a stepmom tends to bring those out in people too. People always assume the worst and when they ask me how old my son is I will reply my stepson is 2. Then the person asking gets this weird look on their face and has nothing else to say!! I want to hang a sign that says, his parents were never married, I came into the picture when he was one, I didnt break up a marriage and we are really happy and the son has two families but he is happy!!! Its like if things are completely viewed as "normal" people do not know what to say and end up saying something rude. Sorry you had to go through that, adoption is amazing and you were able to provide a loving home to a child in need. What better thing to give to a child? Happy SITS day you deserve it!!!!

Sharon said...

what wonderful insights you shared. Thank you!

Helen McGinn said...

Thank you for this post. It was really lovely to read and insightful. I can't imagine how anyone could be so rude and it must take some amount of strength not to react. You sound like a great person and a wonderful mother. xx

a H.I.T. said...

This was beautifully written. In my experience, no matter what big moment you are going through in your life (wedding, baby, adoption, death), there is always someone who makes an inappropriate comment.

African American Mom said...

Moving post. I am glad you shared.

Lizz said...

I'm so sorry that people have been insensitive. :(

When we considered adopting from China (we had been thinking of it for well over a year) I had people make comments that were kind of rude too! And we didn't even have the child.

One thing is certain, as an adoptive parent, you are "expecting" for a lot longer than a traditional pregnancy...and NO ONE should diminish that emotional wait!

Janna Bee said...

This is an amazing and wonderful post into the process and emotional journey of adoption. Thank you for sharing.

Are You There Mom? said...

I have this plaque on my wall that reads "However Motherhood comes, it's a miracle!" I love that isn't it wonderful. Motherhood is motherhood however it comes and it's amazing and wonderful all the same. Thank you for doing what you can to educate on this subject that really does need more exposure~!

Date Girl said...

I like your point about the adoption fees vs. medical bills. I've looked at the cost of some adoptions, and some hospital fees, and they're pretty comparable. And you're so right, it's not the child that costs you money. It's not like you went to a store and purchased him for crying out loud!
I also didn't think of how saying "the child is lucky to have you" would come across as rude. That was an eye opener. It's very true that you as the parents are just as lucky.

Ronnica said...

I'm thankful to be a part of a church family that welcomes and encourages adoption, as I hope to do it someday.

San said...

You really have a great gift at articulating what an adoptive parent is going through... I loved this entry. :)

BlogBaby said...

Another thoughtful and eye opening post.

Thanks for sharing an adoptive parents perspective, some of us are unfortunately clueless and prone to foot-in-mouth syndrome. I do appreciate the gentle reminder.

BlogBaby's BabyMama

Laura said...

As I mentioned in my other comment, I have had 2 miscarriages & believe it or not you get some very inconsiderate comments from people. I guess they really don't know what to say.

Amy said...

How insightful. I learned so much from your perspective. I don't think I have ever said anything along those lines, but I will certainly be more careful from now on. I think adoption is a beautiful thing and such a wonderful way to help those who aren't able to care for their children, and those who aren't able to have biological children. You really have a talent for helping people see your perspective. Thank you.

Stephanie said...

Thank you for giving us all something to think about. It is remarkable to me how, well, tactless people can be. I am thrilled for your family and wish you all the best!

www.thebeautificationproject.wordpress.com

Mammatalk said...

Well said. The arrival of a child into your home is exciting and miraculous no matter the vehicle.

Mama Daggett said...

Very insightful!

Bentley Boutique said...

I'm so happy for you. I heard lots of stupid comments when I was going through 5 years of infertility treatment.... one of which was "Just adopt and then you'll get pregnant."

Stopping by from SITS

Sadiebug and her Mom said...

Parenthood comes in so many shapes and forms. Sometimes through adoption, sometimes through step-parenthood. Thank you so much for posting this and reminding how this honor and responsibility arrives in its different ways.

Sarah said...

I love this post. I have had the desire to adopt for several years now. There are so many children who need parents to love and take care of them. I love that you've shown how the adoptive parents feel with the process.

Ms. Mama said...

Your perspective is one of an adoptive mother. The questions, and attitudes expressed to any expectant mother can be construed as rude.

Even your post here is somewhat insensitive to pregnant women, by placing it as a common occurrence. Lumping all pregnancy in together as one type of experience.

People do ask how much, people do diminish the expectant mother, imagine being 14, 20 or even 41 and having a baby. Those women receive ridiculous comments as well.

Ideally, I say these things for you to realize that every situation has a multitude of perspectives.

Congrats on the adoption, but I am a curious person who would probably ask you something rude, like, will you keep his Korean name? or some other such thing.

I guess what I want to say, is to apply the same joy and love that you find when looking at his shoes by the door to the ridiculous folks that ask the stupid questions, it helps ease some this hurt.

Eclipsed said...

That was a rude comment! You probably didn't realize it but those rude comments are a part of pregnancy too! "Wow you're huge" was something I could never wrap my mind around. Idiocracy knows no bounds.

Joy said...

Rude people come out for every event, eh? Good grief.

Happy SITS day to you!

The818 said...

You're a great writer - you communicate the emotion so clearly - and I'm moved every time! Congratulations on your son!

Michelle said...

Thanks for sharing your story of adoption with everyone. Another great post!

Lance and Jewls said...

Gosh, I just love your blog! I've been feeling so nervous about so many things that you have addressed today! Thanks SO much for your words, they're beautiful!

Allyson said...

Wow, what a great post. I've never known anyone that's adopted, but if I ever do, I'll know that their feelings are just as important as a woman being pregnant. Thank you!!

Stopping over from SITS!

shortmama said...

What a hurtful thing that person said! This was a beautiful post. Being blessed with a child causes soon to be parent emotions no matter what. Being an expectant parent is nerve wracking enough without ignorant comments like that. I am so happy for your beautiful family

Daphne said...

"A child’s existence in our lives is a miracle no matter how the family came together."

i totally agree on that! just roll with the punches - who really gives a hoot what people say. You're soaking up the moment as you should be.
happy sits day yeah? Amazing posts really.

Becca said...

Beautiful post. After learning that I could not ovulate on my own, we were able to conceive our first child using Clomid (due in Feb), but we are seriously considering adopting our second child in a few years. Coming so close to the facing adoption being our best option (and then being surprised when we could conceive), we decided it was a great idea and even if we can conceive again, I do not think we will. Adoption is just as beautiful as bearing biological children.

K said...

It's a good reminder to those of us who haven't experienced the joy of adoption.

I'm sure you've helped a few people avoid saying something dumb and hurtful with this post.

Unknown Mami said...

I can't stop crying after this post. It was just beautiful. I could imagine the joy you must have felt at seeing your baby delivered to your loving arms. I wish your family love and joy.

Days of Whine & Noses said...

adoption is a wonderful thing!

stopping by from SITS!

Adrian's Crazy Life said...

I'm so glad your story had a happy ending. Mine did too. After 4 miscarriages, I had a healthy son who is now 11. We are certainly the lucky ones, aren't we? Congratulations on your adoption!

Sassy Chica said...

Heartfelt post, nicely written.

stopping by from sits

Smooches,
Sassy Chica

Tater Tot Mom said...

Such a great post. People can be so crass and I just don't understand it. I think there seems to be a real lack of some to try and put themselves in others' shoes. Adoptive parents are just as important as biological ones though some would see them as second class.

Zeemaid said...

what a beautiful post. I can't believe people would be so rude though. I hadn't thought of it in the way of adoptive parents being expecting parents too. Thanks for the insight.

greedygrace said...

true story! I think the weighting period is harder for adoptive parents. When you're pregnant, at you know roughly when the baby comes. When you're adopting, you could get the call today, next week, or next year!

Mama Kat said...

Two kids in my daycare were adopted from China and I've spoken with their parents many times about the insensitivity and thoughtlessness people have had with them. I'm glad you're using your platform to educate!!

The Redhead Riter said...

Spoken perfectly. Love is love and it doesn't have a sex, religion or color.

The Dapper Darling said...

Yes! This is true! happy sits!

My Household Junk said...

I was adopted and my husband and I have considered adoption. We still may. I can tell you from the other side of the fence, people never said insensitive things to me so I hope they never will to your son.

Tonya said...

Very touching post. My sister and brother-in-law are in the process of adopting from Ethiopia.

http://luckygirlblogdesign.com

Katie said...

This is a beautiful post. I am sorry for the hurtful comments of some people!

Jessica said...

I sorry people are so ignorant! Great post!

Kristin said...

I'm throwing a shower tomorrow for a mama who just brought her little bundle home from China! We all go through processes to "have" our kids no matter how they came to be ours!

Texan Mama @ Who Put Me In Charge said...

A beautiful post! I linked to this post in my own post for today.

Parenthood is such a unique choice for every family!

Stefanie said...

What a lucky family to have found each other :)

Michelle at Her Cup Overfloweth said...

This is a fantastic post! I feel terrible for any insensitive comments I have ever made to adoptive parents. Boy, have my eyes been opened to the adoptive journey and I so very humbled. What an honor it must be!

Kathy said...

This is a great post! As has come up before in the ALI community, the issue seems to be that some people seem to lack a general sense of sensativity to others who are going through something in life that they haven't experienced and don't seem to want to try to understand.

My sister and brother-in-law are currently waiting to be matched through domestic adoption and I appreciate reading your perspective on what that wait feels like.

Thank you for visiting/commenting on my blog.

ICLW (August 2009)

Ibn Zayd said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Caroline said...

I have a friend who is adopting her second child, and I have been just overwhelmed by her happiness as she becomes a second-time mother. She inspires me.

So do you.

Thank you for this post.

Caroline said...

I really loved reading this post.

Shona said...

What a lovely post. I personally am doing PGD and IVF as a way to start my family, however just over a year ago, my husband got a new sister who was adopted from China. It took many years to get her and we are very happy she is finally with us.

Shona

Carole Rush said...

My hubby and I are in the adoption process and it is unbelievable what people will say to you. We are working with an agency that specializes in infant adoption and my Aunt left this comment on a picture of our newly put together crib: "I would think that if you wanted a child so much that you would willing to take one that is a bit older than an infant...........just sayin'."
Wow! I was shocked and hurt by that comment!

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