Thursday, January 26, 2012

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s): Our Adoption

An aside before I begin:  Many thanks to the reader who pinned (on my recent post about trauma and the young child’s brain.  This has made many more people aware of the effects of early childhood abuse and neglect, as my blog was read this week by several people who would not have sought a “trauma mama” blog out on their own.  Feel free to share this blog on or other sites such as Facebook, Twitter, etc.  Okay, now for the post:

My husband and one of our college-aged sons visited a local, older lady recently.  We do not know her.  My guys were there to help her with a specific need.  Anyway, in that process, Hubby shared that two of our children were adopted from Eastern Europe.  Older Lady was very interested in this.  She thought it was “wonderful.”  She told my husband he was “a good person.”  Then, she pointed to our son and asked, “Is THIS one of THEM?”  Son told me he nearly peed his pants trying to hold in the laughter.  When he got outside and into our car, he and Hubby burst out laughing.  It wasn’t funny, but it really was, because we get strange questions and comments all the time about our adoption.  It is amazing how many of those strange comments and questions happen right in front of our children’s faces. 

“How old were they when you got them?”  (12 and 9.  Why do you ask?)  “Which ones are the adopted kids?”  (Why do you ask? -- And by the way, some of my children were adopted.  Adoption happens to be how they entered our family.  It does not define their state of being.)  “Do they speak English?”  (They understand every word you’re saying.)  “How are they adjusting?”  (Well.  Why do you ask?)  “Do they have psychological problems?”  (Why do you ask?)  “Do they have any diseases?”  (Why do you ask?)  “What happened to their real parents?”  (You mean their biological parents.  Why do you ask?)  “Why were they given up?”  (You mean why were they placed for adoption.  Why do you ask?)  “Why did they have to go to an orphanage?”  (Why do you ask?)  “How much did it cost?”  (Why do you ask?)  “Are you going to send them back when they are older?”  (Um, really?  I still don’t have a kind answer for that one.  Let me know, dear reader, if you have a good comeback for that one.)  “Are they U.S. citizens?”  (Yes.)  “Has it affected your real children?”  (You mean my biological children.  Yes, it’s affected them deeply.  They would like to adopt some day, too.)  “What did your parents think?”  (My parents weren’t involved in the decision to add any of our children to our family, but they love all their grandchildren.  Why do you ask?)

I answer a lot of questions with, “Why do you ask?”  I do this because some people ask questions simply to satisfy their curiosity.  Afterall, adoption is not “normal.”  People are curious about it.  However, some people ask because they are exploring the idea of adoption for their own family.  I want to be especially sensitive to those who may become adoptive parents themselves.  For the curious, I want to be kind whenever possible.  Most are well-meaning people, even if they are clueless, like Older Lady.

Positive Adoption Language

There are plenty of charts and articles on the web that deal with positive adoption language, so I won’t go into depth here.  I’m going to assume anyone reading this blog knows how to use Google or some other search engine.  What I will do is give you a chart below, showing common language vs. language more appropriate when talking about, or asking questions about, adoption.  Feel free to print it out or copy and paste it to your own blog:

Common Language
Positive Adoption Language
real parents
Birth/Biological Parents
real siblings
Birth/Biological Siblings
real siblings
natural child/parent
Birth/Biological Child/Parent
adoptive parent
is adopted
Was Adopted
give up
Terminate Parental Rights
give away
Make An Adoption Plan
track down
Waiting Child / Child Placed for Adoption
taken away
Court Termination


Courtney said...

I had a new one the other day. We had a guy out to fix our radiators. When he found out we had six kids, he said "Did you buy them?" I answered no, to which he replied "We bought ours." (turns out it was an adoption within the family) I was so baffled by the whole conversation I never did disclose that we had adopted. I don't consider that we "bought" our children anymore than I consider that someone "grew" their biological children. Plus, all of my kids were sitting in the room--saying we bought them certainly would have led to some interesting conversations!

Trauma Mama T said...

There's always something new, isn't there, Courtney? We should put all the questions into a book some day.

BTW, I added your blog to my list of "Good Stuff to Read" there on the right ---->

Courtney said...

Aw, thanks! Maybe that will be incentive to actually update it! LOL