“This is my son, his wife and their adopted kids,” my father-in-law smiled happily and waved his hand in our direction. Our three young children looked on silently as the man they knew as “grandpa,” discussed each of their origins.
A few moments later, in a silent corner of the room where my children nor my father-in-law could hear, I warned my husband.
“You tell him, or I will,” I threatened. “And you’ll say it much nicer than I ever will. He introduces us like that again, and I’ll never come to another one of these reunions. I don’t care how good Aunt Lola’s salad is or Grady’s barbecue.”
If you have adopted children, you should adhere to the same standards. Don’t let food sway you. You child should not have to LIVE adoption.
This means several things.
- Number one: Adoption is not the defining part of your child. It’s not. Don’t you make adoption the most significant part about your child’s identity and do not allow others. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t talk about this important piece of who your child is, but there is a time and a place. And while being introduced to a hard-of-hearing, second cousin, is not the time.
He is not an “adopted” child. He is the baseball player, the bossy one, the great story teller, and the kid who jumped from the high dive. You are not an adoptive mom. You are the nutritionist, the cab driver, the tutor, the storyteller, and the one who tread water for five minutes while he got up the courage to jump.
- Number two: STOP complaining. Whining and nit-picking have become the default position for many people. There are countless complaints in the adoption community. Okay, so I complained about my children being introduced as adopted. But, I did something about it and then let it go. That’s what you have to do. If you are tired of answering questions, stop. Don’t whine about not getting a baby shower or your mom not showing up to help with the new baby like she did for your sister. Your children do not need to hear you complain. Complaining means there must be something second class about adoption.
- Number 3: Show love, compassion, and gratitude to the birth family. There won’t be a day which goes by, your child isn’t going to hear something like: “The nut doesn’t fall far from the tree.” “A chip off the old block.” Not from you, hopefully, but from TV, friends, teachers and others. Regardless of the debate between nature vs. nurture, your child doesn’t need to hear any badmouthing of their DNA. With great sincerity, I tell my children, if they could inherit anything from their birthmother, I hope they inherited her strength. Going through a pregnancy and flying in the face of mainstreaming thinking, by placing a child requires strength, courage, and forethought.
- Number 4: Laugh every day.