Ok...this is a warning...I KNOW I am going to lose some blog readers over this posting, but with Maureen's comment on the Family Tree Project about thinking she was the only one who felt sometimes we adoptive parents get a bit too sensitive over things I decided it was time to state my case. This is intended to be a bit sarcastic, humorous, snarky...whatever you want to call it...but within it is truth for me. After 10 years of being a participant in online adoption lists and talking to literally thousands of parents over the course of time, there are certain things that have always gotten under my skin. If I offend anyone, I am sorry. If you see yourself in this, I am sorry. It is my opinion and that isn't worth a hill of beans! But I am wondering if any of these little Adoption Bugaboos get on anyone else's nerves as well. So let's begin, and I have my Fire Retardant Suit for the inevitable flaming:
1) Focusing too much on "PC" language. Political correctness has its place, but to make it your mission to savagely correct any poor innocent unsuspecting soul who happens to use the words "real mom" when asking about your child's adoption or who does have the gall to ask "How much did he/she cost?" is going over the top. Personally, I also think it is unhealthy to walk around with a spirit that is laying in wait to pounce on someone for stating something in a less than ideal manner. For goodness sake, my own KIDS sometimes call their birth parents their "real" parents!! I don't take offense at that, "real" is VERY DIFFERENT from being the "present" parent, which is what we are...and I'd gladly that that over "real" any day.
2) Getting angry over every "adopt-a-something" campaign. Again, going too far folks. So what if the shelter wants to use "adopt a pet" in their advertising or if we want to "adopt a school" to keep it in good shape?? How in the world is that negating the experience of child adoption? So...why don't we just have a "adopt a kid" campaign and call it good??? Adoption = caring, nurturing. In every instance when I have seen the "adopt-a-something" phrase used it has been about exactly that, caring or nurturing something. Totally appropriate, in my ever so humble opinion. Besides, since when did adopting a child give us total control over a word??
3) "Oh you are such a saint!" - I didn't realize that my selfish desire to have a family somehow nominated me for Sainthood.
4) "I could never do what you have done!" - Oh yea you could, you just don't want to...and I am totally cool with that!!! No justification necessary, we are all called to do different things in life.
5) Adoptive Parents who present themselves as the Savior of their adopted child - Boy, that sure does make me feel good, doesn't it? Look what I took you from...everything that is familiar, everything that is all you have ever known, and I drug you halfway around the world to thrust you face first into crass commercialism, a society often short on moral values, and not only that for the REST OF YOUR LIFE you need to be filled with gratitude for what we did for you. Oh yea, and NEVER refer to your birth parents as your "real" parents or I'll really crawl down your throat!
6) "I don't know how you did it,I don't know how you handle it all, I don't know how you made it through Reactive Attachment Disorder..." - I know how, its because I am their mom...period.
7) The entire domestic adoption vs. international adoption debate - I'll put this as simply as I can: It ain't your business where my kids come from.
8) "They are SO lucky!" - How do you know? Live in my house with Dominick and I for a few weeks and you might walk away thinking otherwise. Now, every once in awhile someone speaks to us who "gets it" and I love nothing more than hearing "YOU are SO lucky!". Now THAT'S our truth.
9) The prevailing attitude of so many that every orphanage adoptee is "so screwed up". Oh yea? Maybe it is YOU who is "screwed up"!! Not every kid has RAD, not every kid hoards food, not every kid will yearn for birth parents. Quit painting adoption with such a broad brush. Trust me, I live with 3 and we have totally different experiences with each one. And NO NO NO they are NOT "all screwed up"! And yes, someone actually said that to me.
10) "How do you afford it?" - We do without. We fret and worry about finances constantly. We live differently than some (and that's a whole different post)...yea, differently...MORE HAPPILY and we trust God a whole lot more.
11) The whole "Circumcision Debate" - Should we or shouldn't we? Come on now, is this REALLY a life or death decision to have angry confrontational debates online about? And every 6 months like clockwork almost? Sheesh! Intact or not, as long as it WORKS!!!
12) "Are you babysitting?" - In this day and age why is it that so many people still can't conceive of the fact that families can "look different" and not be matched like Garanimals clothing??
13) Adoptive parents who fall in love with a photo - You've waited for years to become a parent and you get your referral, and you fall madly in love. Madly in love with what??? You've never met the child, you have no idea what their temperament is like or what their personality is like. Would you fall in love with a prospective husband that way? Someone you are going to spend the rest of your life with? Well, maybe a few would but the majority of us wouldn't. This isn't a fairy tale and you can not be truly in love with someone you have never met. Seriously "in like", well, I'll give you that one! Hahahah!
14) "Can I have a Caucasian infant girl from 2-6 months old...no older...with no special needs, blond hair, blue eyes and a perfect birth family history." how about "Can I have a Quarter Pounder with Cheese, ketchup only, no lettuce, pickles on the side?". We aren't ordering dinner, people. I think we ALL have forgotten that somewhere along the line.
15) Overzealous Cultural Clinging - Yes, it is important that your child have a strong sense of who they are, that they feel confident and have an understanding of their birth culture. But does that mean you have to force feed them Mandarin lessons? Do you HAVE to attend "Culture Camp" or feel like your child has missed out on something? Do ALL of their friends have to be adopted from their birth country? If YOU have a fascination with the birth culture of your child, then YOU explore it in deeper ways. I am NOT saying that some of this is not important, and obviously we do it to some degree here in our home as well, but there are those that would be placed in the "baseball Dad" category of "Cultural Awareness in Adoption" because they place so much emphasis on it that their child then even sometimes feels more torn between two worlds. How about a healthy balance? And yes, I guess this means if my kids want to learn Spanish in High School instead of Russian I will be allowing them to do so.
16) Rehashing your adoption story to everyone you meet, from the grocer to the mailman - Now, don't get me wrong here, we end up chatting about adoption far more in our day to day lives than even I would like. Part of that comes from living in a less culturally diverse area (maybe we should move to wherever city has a Kazakh Town or Kyrgyz Town! Oh...wait...don't think we'll find that anywhere!! hahahaha!) so we are often asked as our difference sticks out more here than it would in a more urban area. I also go on and on and on and on here on the blog, but this is where many of you are coming to become educated yourselves. But there are people we interact with every day who only guess at what our story is but have never heard any part of it from our lips. Of course our dearest friends know just about everything and then some, but there are some adoptive parents who wear their child's adopted status and/or race difference as some sort of Badge of Goodness, and who never fail to tell anyone they can find who can't escape them all about their child and the adoption.
17) "I've adopted from XYZ country, so I am an expert." - As anyone who follows the ever changing circumstances in international adoptions knows, you can be home 10 days from your adoption trip and what you have to share suddenly becomes hopelessly outdated. Adopting 1 time...or 2 times...or 3 times...does not make you an expert. Do you know more than someone adopting for the first time? Yes, you do. Does that make you right? No, it sure doesn't. You are ONLY right for your specific experience, and every parents' journey is different, in large part due to their own world view.
18) Parents who blame their agency for things that are totally out of their control - Agencies can not control foreign governments, agencies can not control orphanage directors, agencies can not control birth parents returning for kids. Blaming them is pointless. Save the blame for the things they CAN do wrong!! hahaha!
19) Parents who forget that a child is not yours until the court documents are signed and waiting periods have expired - The sense of loss of a referral is understandable, we cling to photos and hope for months sometimes only to learn things fall apart. However, the anger over it is inexcusable. These are NOT our children, and if a birth family comes back and can care for a child, Hallelujah!! If a child is adopted by another couple who is paper ready first, then that child was not meant to be yours. I do not understand laying claim to a child and then having a hissy fit afterwards when something good happens for that child that just happens not to include you.
20) Adoptive parents who speak negatively of their child's birth country in front of their child - Notice I don't say "honestly", but there is a difference between saying "the poverty there was so sad" to saying "the place was a dump! The streets were filthy, the people were rude..." etc. Or sometimes people will do Item #15 on the list and subject their child to all kinds of "cultural connections", and then say not a kind word about the actual experience in country!! Sharing what you saw while trying to place it in a positive light is important, while traveling look for the happy things, the beautiful, the sacred in what you see and share that. And don't hesitate to share the poverty, the sadness, the true circumstances...just remember that much of your child's self-worth is derived from figuring out who they are and where they came from.
Whew! That felt GOOD!!! hahahaha! Now, flame away if you'd like...or take a humorous look yourself at the things that annoy you and post a comment about it. I'd love to see what Bugaboos stick in your craw!