Huffington Post has a series of articles called “Portrait of an Adoption”, which is definitely worth a read. The series is designed to give a voice to people with widely varying experiences, including birthparents, adoptees, adoptive parents, foster parents, waiting adoptive parents and others touched by adoption.
The article I read recently was written by an adopted daughter, asking, begging, pleading, for people to stop asking her if she ever wants to find her ‘real’ mom. Her ‘real’ mom, as she simply states, is at home, their home!
As parents to two adopted children we get asked a lot of questions. Some are from people wanting to know more about the process, the do’s and don’t’s, the timelines, the agencies to speak to and so on.
Others are keen to know more about Emma and Ben’s biological parents, their backgrounds, their story, which for now, I’m happy to tell, until my children are ready to take over the narrative.
But some people are thoughtless with the questions they ask and a few are just downright dumb. I’ve never heard someone ask a couple with two (biological) children if they’re theirs or if they’re ‘actually’ siblings. I’ve also never heard anyone ask a biological mom or dad, out of the blue, whether their child is ‘healthy’.
I’ve been asked why we adopted black children and I’ve had people ask whether I’ll tell Emma and Ben that they’re adopted. Um, hello! Why is that my social filter doesn’t allow me to ask the same people whether Stupid should breed?
Like I say, I’m all for answering intelligent questions about the reasons I adopted, why I opted two adopt two black children (as if that matters) and I’m, for the moment, happy to still answer questions about Ben and Emma’s ‘real’ parents. Though quite frankly I think it’s a bit of an insult to both Mark and I who have raised, loved and nurtured them thus far, to still not be seen as such.
I’m also okay, for now, to have Emma hear me retell the same old story about her birth mother leaving her when she just a few days at a shelter because she couldn’t afford to keep her. But Emma’s understanding more and more, and as much as she’s already aware that she’s ‘different’ to Mark and I, and the ‘same’ as Ben, I don’t want her to feel like she’s ‘other’ or that ‘other’ is bad.
So, as an adoptive mom I would love for people to think before they speak, to maybe have an internal dialogue and ask whether they would be okay having similarly insulting / stupid / hurtful questions asked of them.
Here are my 5 favourites:
Will you try have your own baby?
No, I have two of my own babies. Emma is three and a half and Ben is almost a year. Also if you thought I was barren in my 30’s, you should see what my reproductive organs look like now that I’ve hit 40! Oh by the way, will you try having another baby – maybe a smarter one, a cuter one, one with blonde hair or maybe try for one that is far more atheltic looking
Do you love them as much as you’d love your own children?
Um, er, um! Either you’re very ‘deep’ or very stupid. They are my children. I don’t know any other children
Why did you adopt black children?
All the blonde haired blue eyed Ayran kids were taken. Oh, and black kids are much cheaper to adopt
Are Ben and Emma ‘real’ brother and sister?
Yes, Emma and Ben are brother and sister. In the same way Emma is my daughter and Ben is my son. The ties that bind us are a little different to those of a ‘normal’ family but they are no less. And just as an aside, Emma gets quite upset when she overhears someone asking
Will you let them find their ‘real’ parents?
Of course they can. As long as they know our physical address they’ll know where to find us. Oh, you mean their biological moms? I’m assuming that when their ‘real’ moms left them in a hospital at birth, without forwarding addresses, contact details or correct telephone numbers, they weren’t really wanting to be found, now or any time in the future
So as I bite my tongue and check my responses to your questions, maybe you should think twice before even asking them.