Tuesday, November 18, 2014

national adoption month...

Did you know that November was National Adoption Month?  I have heard about this for years since we are a family that was formed through adoption, but never really paid too much attention to what it meant.  Celebrating National Adoption Month is based on raising awareness for the need for foster and adoptive parents here in the US.  It's roots go back to 1976 and you can read more about it here.

It's been interesting to hear people's reactions to the fact that our children were adopted.  Many people do not know what to say or how to broach the topic of adoption.  It's not actually something I bring up very often with people.  It's not that I am hiding or ashamed of adoption, it's just that is occurred in the past and I don't think about it daily.  My husband have been incredibly blessed by adoption and in my speaking bio I say that 'I have three children through the miracle of international adoption'.

As with anything that has politically correct language surrounding it, there are landmines.  We do not always use the correct phrase or words when talking about a topic that is new to us.  I think it is our responsibility to educate people on how a sensitive topic should be talked about.  So, I give people the benefit of the doubt when talking about adoption.  But if I've corrected you and given you a preferred phrase or word to use, I'm not as forgiving when you say the wrong thing in the future. 

Recently, I was talking with the mother of a school friend Luke's and A mentioned that her sister and husband had adopted a sibling group.  Then she went on to say that she couldn't understand a mother 'giving their child away'.  That verbiage is a pretty big no-no in the adoption community.  Many people are adamant that it sends the wrong message to say a child was given away versus the mother made an adoption plan.  I'm not nearly as insulted as some with the use of this language if I can discern that your heart is in the right place and you are not inferring that my children were discarded by their birth parents. 

She explained that her sister adopted right around the time A miscarried and was mourning the loss of a baby she desperately wanted.  We chatted about adoption as a choice for a different life for a child and that sometimes this was the best decision for the mom and child.  Since my children were internationally adopted, I couldn't comment on the foster to adopt process her sister went through.  She ended our conversation saying that now that she wasn't mourning she could understand how adoption is a preferred choice for some mothers.  It was a great chance for me to see the 'other' side of how people view adoption.  And I was so happy to hear that her sister, husband and 3 kids were doing great as a family.

A few months ago, my son John came home one day and said 'when we were playing, N mentioned that his mom had said 'Luke and I weren't really brothers'.  First, I was shocked that a mother would tell her son that and that the son would repeat it to my son.  Second, I know that N's mother doesn't like me so I wasn't surprised that she was talking poorly about my family but I was surprised that adoption came up in such a negative light.  I don't know the situation surrounding why N and his mother were talking about my family but she was speaking the truth.  My children are not biological siblings, we adopted them all separately.  But when we adopted them they became siblings and we experience all the same stuff that biologically related children do.  My prayer from the beginning for my children has been that God would knit their hearts together as brothers and I can see the answer to that prayer on a daily basis.

This gave me a chance to talk with John and Luke about the fact that in truth they were not born brothers but when God put them in our family they became brothers.  John said he knew that but didn't feel like talking about it to N, so he just let it go.  I had a harder time letting it go and it kept knocking around in my brain for a few weeks.  I finally decided not to approach this friend's mom for two reasons.  First, it gave us a chance to talk as a family about adoption and we had some good dialog around what's appropriate to say and not say.  Secondly, given the fact that she doesn't like me to start, I was pretty sure she wouldn't be open to me educating her on adoption.

I've had some incredibly stupid comments made towards me and my children and had some wonderfully thought provoking conversations with total strangers.  It's interesting what people will say apparently without thought or knowledge on a topic.

Just like the word retarded is an insult to me every time you use it, saying negative things about adoption out of ignorance or malice can hurt my kids.  Here's a video made by pastor Jesse Butterworh that compares adoption to a boob job in terms of what's appropriate to say. 

I think it's hilarious and hope you did too.  And yes, I've had people say all that stuff to me...


1 comment:

Patty - best sister ever!! said...

That is one of the funniest and best videos I have ever seen, I have no doubt people have said some "challenging" things to you!