Tuesday, September 17, 2019

6 Offensive Phrases People Say to Adoptive Families

I have a thick skin. I've been part of the adoption community for over a decade. Not every little word or phrase or question raises my blood pressure or hurts my feelings. Not even close.

But there are some things that have been said to us--and are still being said to us--that just aren't OK. And for good reason.

Here's what people say to us, and here's why it's offensive:

1: He/she looks just like you!

When I was a mommy of one, my hubby, daughter, and I were eating breakfast at a hotel. I headed to the hotel gym, and my husband stayed behind to finish feeding our toddler. The breakfast attendant approached my husband, gushing relentlessly about how much our daughter looked like my husband.


First, our child is Black and we are white. So there's that. Second, our child isn't biologically related to us and looks nothing like either of us. So what was the deal?

We've had this happen a few times (as have many other families), and I think it's the person's way of trying to affirm or reassure us that we are the child's real parents and we are a real family.   Is it weird? Yes. Is it inappropriate? Totally.

There is nothing wrong with acknowledging adoption and difference. Our children look like their biological families (and not us) because...duh, they are biologically related.  That's OK. 

We don't need to be "reassured" that we are our kids' parents. We already know we are.

2: I want to give away/give back my kids.

I've heard frustrated/tired parents (bio) say this about their (bio) kids often. And every time, I cringe. The child will be having a tantrum, for example, and the parent will roll their eyes or sigh and say something along the lines of, "Anyone want this kid?"

Jokes about giving away or giving back children is never funny--adopted or not. In the adoption community, we fight so hard against stereotypes and inappropriate language. Why? Because language matters. Language CAN hurt. Language resonates.

What our kids' birth families have done by placing their kids for adoption was hardly a laughable, easy move to make. It was a life-altering decision. And it wasn't a joke.

3: Love is all they need.

Talk about uneducated and unsolicited "advice."

Blowing off the significance of a child's biological parent, adoption, trauma, etc. is ignorant and hurtful. Love is absolutely not all an adoptee needs. As I've said many times, love is a powerful, necessary foundation. But it is not the be-all-end-all of what our kids need.

Biology matters. Trauma matters.  Feelings about adoption and the adoption story matter. 

There isn't a contest between these things. And adoptees shouldn't be put in the position to feel they must choose. They can all exist.  They are all real. And the sacred process of thinking about, talking about, working through them is important. They cannot be swept under the rug. 

4: I know someone who was adopted and... (insert horror story).

Let me be clear. We don't want to hear your second-hand adoption horror stories.

They don't help us. They are one-sided, misunderstood stories that speak against adoption, against the individuals involved. Disrespectful.

No. Just no.

View this post on Instagram

They look up to their dad. They’re always seeking his attention. He wrestles with them. Cheers for them. Laughs at their jokes. Tag? He’s on it! Swim races? Done! His energy is the best! He takes out braids, too! ❤️ I’m learning to appreciate our differences as parents. He’s more likely to give more chances. He’s a compromiser. I’m the stricter parent. It used to drive me batty-the way I’d say no and he’d say maybe or yes. But I’m realizing that our kids need both. ❤️ We believe in attachment, trauma informed parenting. We’re always learning new things and changing up what we do. Improving. Being the parents our kids need. ❤️ What’s your parenting style vs your partner’s? πŸ‘‡πŸΌπŸ‘‡πŸ½πŸ‘‡πŸΎ . . . #parenting #dadlife #multiracialfamily #adoptivefamily #adoptiveparents #dad #bigfamilylife #empoweredtoconnect #attachmentparenting #trauma #specialneeds #daddydoinwork #whitesugarbrownsugar #blackhairstyles #sunday #sundayfunday
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5: God bless you.

So, we get this one a lot. Deep breath.

We didn't rescue our kids. They are NOT charity cases. We aren't white saviors or superhereos. Our kids aren't victims or orphans. We aren't better than the next parent. We are normal, real parents. Yes, our kids were adopted, but they are also normal, real kids.

If you wish to say something kind to my family, as a whole, the most appropriate thing you can say is, "You have a beautiful family." That's it.

6: Your child is so lucky.

Sigh. This one is kind of the worst, isn't it? 

I am the lucky one! And I didn't rescue my children. I'm not a superhero or a savior or a saint. 

My children aren't "lucky" that I gave them a "good and loving home." The reality is, I wanted to be a mom and adoption was our best option. 

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