Four Things Adoptive Parents Wish You Wouldn't Say
Dream Come True!
As an adoptive parent, your life is suddenly filled with firsts. It's a time of dreams being fulfilled and challenges being faced. Quite simply, it's one of the most exciting times in your life! You finally have someone who will call you "Mom" or "Dad" and to whom you are a parent.
The strangest questions...
The bond I formed with each of my sons was individual to each of them. Similarly, in adoptive parenting, there are situations that are completely unique to the journey of adoption. It is quite common to be asked very personal questions as an adoptive parent. In many cases, the general public has very relaxed boundaries regarding asking personal questions. From your child's birth parents to their genetic connection, nothing seems to be off the table. I think I speak for all of us when I say, please tred lightly with the following:
My child's adoption story, and every detail of it, is one that is theirs to share. I know that it is one we live out with different outside appearances but that our hearts are the same. We honor the birth parents who gave them life and the courage they had to do so. When they are ready to share all of this, they will, but it won't be because a stranger asks.
Questions you should NEVER ask an adoptive parent
1. "Couldn't You Have Any Children Naturally?"
I remember it mainly due to the shock of the moment. I was at the mall and an older lady saw my son, Mark, in the stroller. She came over and remarked at how cute her was. She cooed at him for a few minutes, then lifted her head and said, "Couldn't you have children naturally?" As I muttered something in response, I made a quick exit, feeling upset and violated. I am sure she didn't intend any harm or hurt, but in that one simple question, I felt she exposed my most personal shortcoming, my infertility. Our adoption was not a replacement for a birth child, it was a dream fulfilled...yet this sudden and unexpected question was jarring and invasive.
2. " Are They Twins?" or "Are They Brothers?"
I truly cannot recall number of times I have been asked this since 1999 when my youngest came home from Korea. Our oldest son was born in Vietnam, and, as such, looks nothing like his brother. I am always dumbfounded when people ask either of these questions, especially in front of my boys. Their real question is, of course, is are they biologically connected.? Such a personal story..one for our child to tell, when they are ready to hear it and share it. It would never occur to me to ask someone in front of their children, "Were they a vaginal or caeserian birth?"! To adoptive parents, this question can be just as personal!
3. "What Do You Know About Their Birth Mother?"
Hard to believe but I am asked this frequently. I am always stunned when asked this, to me, it is so intensely personal. Each child's passage into the world, and onto their family is unique and personal. They will one day hear the story and fully understand all the pieces that fell into place to make it happen. They will understand the sacrifice made by their birth mother and that it came from a place of selflessness. However, it is NOT a conversation for the checkout line at the store or the playground! No harm is meant, I am sure but I don't think thought is given to it either.
4. "Do You Know What Will Happen Now?"
This is usually followed by "You will get pregnant," and a story about a friend, relative or acquaintance who adopted and then conceived a child biologically. This scenario DOES happen, and is a true miracle. However, for many adoptive parents, this statement can seem to insinuate that the adoption was a consolation prize. This is not the case! Although we pursued biological children first, I always knew I would adopt. In fact, I was more convicted about that than giving birth. Although the process of accepting that I was infertile was difficult and painful, I also knew I would just need to rearrange my parenting approach. I did not adopt as a last resort, but rather to fulfill a lifelong dream and a calling.
Five Things You Should Do For A Friend Who Has Adopted
- Listen: Adoptive parents need people to listen and not pass judgement. Be a kind ear.
- Hold a shower for a waiting adoptive parent: These special moments are just as important for us.
- Set up a meal train for when the baby comes home-they will need it!
- Just be there. There will be ups and downs.
- Remember their Gotcha Day: the day their child came home. It will be celebrated every year!
You Are More Than Enough!
What all adoptive parent needs the most is YOU! A supportive friend or family member who listens without judgement, no matter how long the road is. Words can seem empty at times...especially when faced with disappointments. But genuine feelings, concern and support are never unwelcome! Reach out and bolster that friend! She needs your support to face the world out there!
© 2018 Megan Swope