Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Please, Ask Me About My Adoptive Family... But Not Like This

Photo of Curltop and Snugglebug
by Mad Rooster Photography
I love that people are curious about our family, and how it was created. After all, I am blessed to have gained children in every way imaginable -- I gave birth, I've raised full-time stepchildren, and I've adopted. I guess we can rule out immaculate conception, because I'm no saint. Trust me on that one.

Naturally, people want to ask questions, and I am flattered they care enough about our little tribe to find out more.

However, there are some questions that -- no matter how well-intentioned -- leave me bristling. Here are just a few, specifically related to our adoptions:

1. Where's their "real mom?" Or, Do they see their "real mom?" Or, Do they know their "real mom?" Or... You get the picture.

I might ask you, "What is a real mom? Is it someone who gets up in the middle of the night for feedings, cups her hands for a sick kid to puke into, agonizes over every parenting decision from what pediatrician to see to what colleges to look into, maintains a crazy calendar and works her butt off to make sure her kids have what they need?" If you answered "yes" to any of those, I am their "real mom."

Instead, feel free to ask me about their "birth mother," "biological mother" or their "first mother." We use those terms interchangeably, and we reserve a place of honor in our hearts and our family for the woman who gave birth to our daughters.

Incidentally, the same goes for their "birth father," "biological father" or their "first father."

2. Are they sisters?

Yes. Yes, they are sisters. They are sisters not only to one another, but also sisters to our five other children. They are sisters, because we are a family. 

In our particular case, our two youngest daughters do happen to be biologically related, and have the same birth mother and birth father, but even if they didn't, they would still be sisters.

3. Where did you get them?

Oh, you know... someone was outside the grocery store with a cardboard box and a sign that said, "FREE TO A GOOD HOME," so we packed them up, and brought them home. Actually, not really. 

Ask me if we adopted through foster care, or if we had a private adoption, or if we had an in-family adoption, instead. I'll be happy to share with you! Where we adopted from isn't the question you're trying to ask, I assume. Rather, I expect you're more interested in how we adopted.

4. Did you adopt because you couldn't have any more of your "own" kids?

Please, just don't.

Infertility, difficulty conceiving, miscarriages, high-risk pregnancy... It's all hard to talk about, and really -- it's none of your business, unless we are very close. Even then, it may be none of your business, unless I choose to share it with you.

Nonetheless, we adopted because it was right for us, and the decision had nothing to do with whether or not we could have more children of our "own." All our children are "ours," regardless of how they were conceived, and my adopted children are "my own kids."

5. Aren't you afraid they'll have... problems?

This is usually followed by a story about how the person asking has a cousin, or a friend, or a cousin of a friend, or they heard a story about someone who adopted, and the kid had all sorts of "problems." The perceived problems might be medical, behavioral, neurological, or any combination of these.

Yes, I am afraid my kids will have problems. All of my kids. I have an adult child with severe allergies. I have another adult child who has struggled with addiction. I have yet another child who has screamed and punched her way through emotional issues and behavioral problems. Perhaps most concerning, I have a kid who actually thinks Skrillex is "music." 

None of those kids were adopted.

As parents, we worry. We worry a lot. We question every decision we make, and we worry our kids will face challenges we can't save them from. We worry about whether we should save them from challenges and, if so, which ones. We worry they'll get sick, or hurt, or abducted or sucked into a destructive cult.

I'd worry about those things, even if all my kids grew in my uterus. In fact, the "grow your own" method doesn't alleviate the risk of health or behavior issues. 

My kids have 99 problems, and being adopted isn't one of them.

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