I am for sure that I have said things that have made people cringe before because of my ignorance about a certain subject. I surely hope that I don't offend people with things I say and for the most part I do try to think before I talk. I want to know when I say something that's inappropriate. My best friend Amy has a daughter that has special needs. I have learned so much about appropriate language from her and so today I'm going to help all you people out there that read my blog and have said something silly about adoption lately. I also know I'm not alone in this, so if you are adoptive parent and want to chime in, leave a comment with your advice about stupid ignorant silly things that people can say about adoption.
I used to get really hung up on language when we were adopting Deacon. I would freak if someone asked me if I knew his mom. I knew exactly what they meant, but to me I took it as a personal insult to me. That does not bother me anymore. His first mom is a mom to him too. She is not the mom that will parent him forever, but for the first 9 months of his life she was all he had.
There are a few things that still get to me. I'm gonna go through them and let you know personally why they offend and/or bother me when they are said to me. If you've said this I'm by no means trying to make you feel stupid or bad, but just want you to know how we who are in adoption feel about these comments. All of these have been said to me in the past month.
1. “Do you have any kids of your own”
This is a big one that happens a lot. Even after people hear how our kids came to us they sometimes follow it up with, “so you adopted 3 and have one of your own.” Yes I know what they mean. They mean, “so you adopted 3 and had one out of your body” but sometimes people say it the other way. I get what you mean. Here's the deal though, my kids are usually standing there. Do you see how one of my three adopted children could hear this? They could start to believe the lie that I'm sure will one day be planted in their little hearts that they are not really my kid. They would start to think that we love Cayden more because he's our “own” and they are just adopted. You see how this sounds. All of my kids are my own. Every last one of them. They just got here different ways.
2. “can you bring me back one from ____________”
This isn't really adoption related, but for some reason it bothers me when someone is talking to someone that is going to a country with poor people and says this. I could be way off here, but to me it devalues the people there. Like you can really just go to a country and stuff a kid in your suitcase on the way home. That gives international adoption a bad rap, because clearly that's not how it works. Maybe I'm way off, you tell me?
3. “we're going to buy our next baby”
Yes I can hear you gasping on this one. Yes someone said this. I know they were not trying to be mean. In fact I think after they said it they were truly thinking, what the heck did I just say. They love God. They love kids. They support adoption. Clearly just an un-educated response, and clearly not thinking before you speak. Buying babies is illegal. Also let's go back to this …. would I ever want one of my kids to think I bought them? Are you kidding me? I buy cars. I buy vacations. I buy new clothes. I don't buy my children. I was truly offended by this one, because it shows a very low value in adoption. Adoption is not about buying a kid. Adoption is about loving a child that didn't have anyone to love them. Adoption is about looking at someone and saying although you aren't from my blood, you are mine. Adoption is about caring for “the least of these”.
4. “I'm gonna steal you and take you home with me.”
Yes this was said to one of my kids from Haiti. It seems super innocent, but to a kid that has not known stability in their entire life this is awful. I actually had to look at my kid later and say “don't worry, no one is going to steal you and take you away from me.”. Yes that joking doesn't go well with a child that will always be fearful of his parents leaving him. I was not offended by this because this person was trying to say how much they loved my kid, but just so you know people this is not a good comment!
So, there you go. My rant for the week. I truly don't get offended easily. I am writing this not to point out how stupid someone is for saying this, or to make anyone feel awful and guilty, but yet to show what these comments mean to parents that have children through adoption.
I wrote this last year about POSITIVE ADOPTION LANGUAGE.