There has been a little video floating around Facebook lately - "If you wouldn't say it about a boob job (a guide for adoptive questions)". After 300 of my friends posted it, I caved and watched it. (I have to be honest, I was a bit turned off by the title. You never know what you will get if you click on a title like that....) The video really was cute and made me chuckle. As an adoptive mom, I've heard more times then I can count the things that people really do say to adoptive parents. (The same goes for the various lists out there of what to say/not say to adoptive parents or parents of large families. There's a PC list for everything!)
So why am I writing a blog post if I personally thought the video cute/funny? Well - because I think we (and when I say we - I'm talking specifically here about adoptive families) need to relax a little bit on how people speak to us about our life. (I think I'm about to lose half of my FB friends...)
Maybe instead of being so concerned with how others speak to us about our life choices, we could view the opportunities to speak truth about what adoption IS. My fear is that the many lists out there that give the PC way to speak to adoptive families (and videos like the Boob job video) only scare people away from asking us any questions at all. People who really want to know, even! I recently sat at dinner with some friends - most of us adoptive moms, but a couple not. One of the "nots" voiced that she saw the video and felt bad. She said she has so many questions about adoption, but doesn't ever ask them because she's afraid she is going to ask the wrong thing or in the wrong way. That broke my heart! If the adoptive community wants to continue to raise awareness, we have to be okay with people talking in whatever language they know lest they cease to ask! We can then answer them with whatever verbage we feel they need to know. (Personal example: "Do you have your own children or just the adopted ones?" "We had three biological children prior to adopting our two children who are now our own.")
I see adoptive parents CLINGING to this desire to be spoken to or about in such a way that even I get confused by. I've seen adoptive parents go off because another adoptive parent asked them questions that we should just know better then to ask. I feel a little bit like my non adoptive friends sometimes. I'm scared to ask! For instance, there is an obvious adoptive family at our school. I've often wanted to approach them - and an easy enough conversation starter would be our children who (*GULP*) look different then us. Very different. But I am afraid! I hear the voices of the adoptive families scolding other adoptive families for being so inconsiderate. I think that is messed up.
One last argument I hear from adoptive families surrounds the desire for adoptive comments, questions, or anything of the like to not be voiced in front of our children. I don't get this either. (I've now officially entered the contest as worst adoptive mom ever.) WHY? Why can't our kids hear the questions of others - as naive as the questions seem to be? PARENTS! We are doing our children a disservice if we shield them from the hurtful things people will say. We personally have had plenty of hurtful things said to us, about us, and all in front of our children. Should I shy away from those conversations or blog about how stupid some people can be? Or instead, maybe I could just respectfully interact with people who maybe just need a little bit more information, and explain to my children later that while these comments may feel hurtful to us (them) in the moment - they really don't need to be hurt. Maybe I could view these as amazing teaching moments for reminding my kids of the sovereign hand of God in their life, about how loved and treasured they are, and teach them to laugh at the world around them. Our children are going to grow up and always be faced with these hard questions/remarks from the outside world. Maybe we can choose to equip them with how to handle such moments gracefully. Maybe.
Whatever life choice you make, if it is visible to others - I do not believe you have the right to quiet the inquiring minds around you just because they say the wrong thing at the wrong time all out of curiosity. Yes, adoption, big families, homeschooling, insert other "weird" life choices here are private and very personal decisions. But we live in a public world. We can't have it both ways. We can't hope to raise awareness, want people to support/encourage us in our lives, or even help people understand us if we decide it is more important to mold them into this little PC person (thereby actually silencing them). My hope is that we would remain open to the questions around us - because you never know when one of them is the next adoptive family just not yet understanding our little world! (Disclaimer: Of course there are those obvious idiotic moments where the crazy person you don't even know in the store says the most offensive thing ever ... like the check out clerk asking me if my child has AIDS because he heard most kids in Africa do.... these are not the moments I am talking about. In those moments you just let your jaw drop and stand there staring at them until they realize how big of a fool they just made of themselves.)
Okay. That's all. I will step off my soap box now.