Thursday, April 14, 2011

Adoption Comments Gone Wrong

I really liked the title of a recent post on Jamie Ivey's blog: "Adoption Comments Gone Wrong." What a great way to put it, I thought. So many comments made to adoptive families are not meant to be insensitive and/or rude but unfortunately these comments do often "go wrong" and cause frustration and hurt.

The first illustration she used struck a chord with me. Here is what Jamie wrote:

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.

My response to Jamie's post was this:

I get your #1 asked a LOT. In conjunction with that, I get asked “So they are not really brothers and sisters?” and I really hate that. Often it is by otherwise highly educated people (like staff at my kids school!) And sometimes it is by my children’s peers – recently my 3rd grade daughter told me a classmate said her brother couldn’t be her brother because they are different colors and were born to different mothers. I NEVER want my kids to think they are not a real family, because we ARE in every way that matters – and MORE.

It's true. Just the other day a teacher asked me, "So they are not brothers?" To which I responded (as I always do) "Yes, they are brothers. All of my children are brothers and sisters of the heart." Her reply (which was almost verbatim what I always hear) was in slightly patronizing tone (which is almost exactly how I always hear it.) "Oh, of course. I know that. But they are not BLOOD brothers."

Later in the same conversation I heard things like, "You are such good people ... you have such good intentions ... it must be hard caring for so many children ... but what generous hearts you have." It grated on me because still implicit in those words was the idea that we are not a true FAMILY, we are just some sort of charitable group of people living together.

I am only thankful that this particular conversation took place out of my children's hearing, but unfortunately carbon copies of this conversation have happened right in front of them too many times. And like Jamie says, "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."

My children are my children, period. They are brothers and sisters, period. We are a family, period. I just hope and pray God will knit that truth into the deepest most sensitive parts of their hearts and minds so that whenever anyone challenges that notion they will be assured and reassured that they are LOVED and WANTED and FOREVER our kids.

Even more importantly, by grasping that truth I hope and pray they will each one day thoroughly accept and understand that in the same but so much greater way they can be God's LOVED and WANTED and FOREVER children as well.

Because His is the greatest REAL family of all.


Life with Kaishon said...

I am sorry you have so many terrible experiences with what people say to you! When people talk to me about it I never care how or what they say. I am just glad they are noticing my super duper kid! So I smile and share. We all say dumb things sometime. Life is too short for me to worry about all of that stuff. Sometimes I think we project our issues onto this topic. We are different. Adoption is different.

sea salt MOSAIC said...

My heart is so heavy over all of this this week. Oh how I loathe the "you are such good people" comments. Like you said it's like we're turned into a charitable organization instead of seen as a family. . .but even worse are all of the terrible ways I have seen myself fail that week and I KNOW how not a "good" person I can be. I put my proverbial chin onto my fist and frump down. What tends to be more challenging is reconciling these truths to Sousi and clarify/explaining the falsities to her in a gentle and comprehensible way b/c she is ALWAYS listening to every conversation in every situation (working on the whole minding your own business thing!) and so of course she hears all of these crazy comments people make. She can really separate herself emotionally from us as a family and run into her safety net thinking we're just another place to sit and wait for the right time when her biological parents will be ready for her to return to them or when they will come for her. She sits and waits and she sits and waits. It's that longing that you pray for in waiting for Christ's return. . . .but, in this case they're not returning. it's sad and frustrating and downright enraging when I see what careless words do to traumatized children in a split second. ok - off my soapbox. but you get a "here, here" from me.

HatchersInChile said...

Thank you for this!! I am just starting down this road as my children were really too young to understand or hear the conversations. That is all changing and recently we had to have a discussion about the whole "so, they are not brothers" comment by a "friend". Still not sure what to say in those situations, bu am happy that I am not alone in my frustrations!