Monday, October 18, 2010

Adoption Messages

Adoptive families are regular families.  The children in adoptive families are not second best or plan B.  My parents came to adoption after infertility. Adoption may have been their plan B on their quest for a family, but we were not.  We were their deeply loved children.  No different from our youngest sister who was born to them after 15 years of marriage and infertility. 

Adoptive parents do not want to be pitied or admired. We want  to be seen for what we are; families. Regular old, run of the mill, crazy, complicated, loving, fighting, caring, embarrassing, proud, families. We want our children to feel good about who they are and how they came to their families. This is a challenge when our culture sends out so many subtle and not so subtle messages about adoption. 

Below are some comments I have heard that have given me pause:

-A  (non-adopted) woman complaining about her family: "I just want to tell people I was adopted!"

-Two woman talking about another woman's pregnancy: "I'm so happy for her!  She recently started the adoption process.  Thank God she can have her own."

-To me: "My brothers would tease me by telling me I was adopted."

-To me while with Mikias:  "I almost had to adopt. Thank God I got pregnant!"

-A mother about her biological multi-racial children; "People always ask me where they are from!  They are NOT adopted. They are mine!"

-To me while out with the boys:  "You have your own children too, right?"

-To a friend (an adopted person with biological children); "Wow, your kids are so great.  That must be a comfort with you being adopted."

-To Mikias: "Your parents bought you."

-To me as growing up: (asked more times that I can count) "Don't you wonder about your real parents?"

-To me about my boys:  "Are they real brothers?"

-Again about my boys: "Wow, they sure could pass for brothers."

-To an adopted teenager at a youth group, said by a peer: "You are so annoying, no wonder your parents didn't want you!"

-One white preteen girl to another (who happens to have an Ethiopian brother) : "I would never date a black guy.  If you fell in love and got married, everyone would think your kids were adopted." 

-To a friend whose mother was adopted: "I don't know why you are so sad about your grandmother's death.  She wasn't your real grandmother anyway." (this said by her now ex-husband)

-To an adoptive mom, spoken by a woman who believed that you go to an orphanage and choose your child after looking the 'available children' over:  "It must be like picking a dog out at the pound!"

Usually at this point in a blog, I share my thoughts. I hope that these comments (some outlandish and some just born of ignorance)  speak better than I can.


  1. I always try to differentiate by saying bio-babies and adopted-babies or something. We have Jem and Miki's picture on our fridge and pretty much any time I have someone over for the first time who doesn't know me well, they say "you have black kids on your fridge" like it's something I need to be alerted of. It always makes me mad and I just might punch them in the arm and then explain how they're basically my brothers and that's that! Plus I feel like I'm closer to the CIP family than I am to a lot of my biological family, emotions are more important than genetics for sure.

  2. Alison - I love all your posts, but I really love this one. As a soon to be adoptive mom of an Ethiopian son, I am just amazed at the crazy things that people say! Thanks for sharing your experiences. Helps us be more prepared for the comments that may come our way!

    Carolyn in CA

  3. Sometimes I read your posts and just have to walk away before I comment. This was one of those times. The level of emotion it brought up for me was too strong. I'm back a week later to say, keep spreading the word. Keep pointing out the things people say that are so hurtful.

  4. Wowzers - these are awful. And yet, I have heard many of them, too. There is still a lot of adoption stigma that we must fight against.

  5. Wow - As much as I hate this, I am glad I read it. I hate that this is the reality we'll need to prepare our children (and ourselves) for, but it is good to hear from someone so honest and open about these ridiculous comments. In regards to infertility, I've been getting the "Plan B" from a lot of people... "My parents came to adoption after infertility. Adoption may have been their plan B on their quest for a family, but we were not." THIS I love, and will certainly be my new response to people. SOO many people have said to me "Oh that's so wonderful that you're adopting!! I bet you'll get pregnant now!" To which I respond, "Actually we're hoping we don't get pregnant, and are considering going on the pill again. Hoping you get pregnant while going through adoption to me makes as much sense as hoping you get pregnant while you are in fact pregnant."

    1. I HATE that people make that stupid pregnancy comment when people share that they are adopting. It is so stinkin' insensitive. How is it that someone can say 'how wonderful you are adopting' and 'you'll get pregnant now' in the same conversation. Do they not hear what they are saying? UGH.