ADOPTION: SOME CONVERSATIONAL DO'S AND DON'TS
Adoption is the loving, and deeply unique formation of a family. As one who is adopted I've been on the receiving end of all the following comments--I can't make this stuff up--by the most well-intentioned folks. While my own adoption story IS fascinating, it's still mine to share on my terms. (Maybe one day I will in List form.) 😊
- •Please do not: ask pointed questions if we've just met.Whoa, whoa! Your interrogation can wait until my hand has cooled a little from our introductory handshake. Thank you. 🙏🏾
- •Please do not: frame any question that involves the words "real" parents or "real" sister/"real" brother.Please don't insult my loved ones by asking about my "real parents." Ok, so my parents went to an airport instead of a hospital. My mom and dad and sister are very real to me, despite our biological differences.
- •Please do not: say something in the form of "Wow, I bet your birth mother really regrets giving you up."
- •Please do not: ask why I was "given up"Another common adoption related faux pas.
- •Please do not: express your opinion about race to anyone within the adopted family.It doesn't matter if you don't like that White parents have adopted an African American baby. Please do not approach a parent and give an earful about it. It's hurtful. (And yes, this happens frequently.) On the other hand, bringing attention to them like they're a circus attraction even when it's well-meant isn't really the best either. It's just a family. The best response is to give a supportive smile--tell them their family is beautiful!--and move along.
- •Please do not: tell me "I don't have anything against adoption but I could never do it because I don't want to take a chance that the baby might have issues."Did you really just say that to my adopted face? Clearly the baby's not the one with the issues. This is a common opinion, sadly. Bottom line: Nature vs. Nurture exists in all families, whether a child is adopted or biological. Plus, I'm amazing so…there goes that argument.
- •Please do: praise your friend's parents for taking a chance on an unknown kid.My white, American parents adopted me, an unbathed, hairy, Guatemalan baby, sight-unseen in the late 70s. My parents were pioneers at a time when cross-racial adoptions were practically unheard of. They deserve mad praise and my biological mother does, too.
- •Please learn current adoption lingo: "birth mother and father;" "biological sibling;" "adoptive parents" (or in my case just "parents" 💗); "make an adoption plan;" "place(d) a child with an adoptive family."
- •Please do: show a gentle curiosity, and frame questions tactfully, asking permission before asking personal questions.Approached the right way, I'm an open book. Even if we've meet recently.
- •Please do: ask me about adoption in general! I know a lot about it both personally and professionally, and am an advocate for it.