Wednesday, September 1, 2010

I've written before about things you shouldn't say to a birth mother. That's my area of expertise, so it's what I've had to talk about. But there's another side of things, too, and I think they're important to address as well. Because the fact is that couples who have adopted, or who hope to adopt, have plenty of stupid things said to them as well.

There is an excellent article *here* about adoption, and at the end is a list of things that should NOT be said to an adoptive parent. I get irritated thinking that Roo's mama has to deal with people saying stupid things like these. Really irritated. Like, I wish I had names and addresses of people who have said these things to P and M, so I could ... I don't know. Push cream pies into faces, or give dirty looks (I should probably apologize for such violent imagery).

I'm sure many of you could add to the list because of stupid or insensitive things that have been said to you. I know that most people don't mean to offend. They just don't know what to say - or rather, what not to say.

How do y'all deal with the insensitive things people have said to you about adoption? Have any of you found any good ways to correct and educate people?


Michelle said...

I just try to remind myself, that when I get stupid comments, its just that people do not understand.
Ive had several people refer to our birth mother, as mother...and that hurts me.

Cricket said...

I didn't want to hijack your post, so I've blogged about this on my site.

Kelly said...

We don't have our child yet, but are expectant adoptive parents. We have already encountered a slew of uneducated-but-well-meaning (and sometimes just downright hateful)comments. Like "but don't you want a child of your own?" and "Wow, your baby is costing a lot!" Oh, and the infamous "Now that you're adopting, you'll get pregnant!" I have learned to either ignore certain comments, and in some cases to re-phrase what they are saying. My common response is, "Well we aren't buying a baby, we're paying for the legal process." And when people tell me I'll get pregnant, I just say, "Well if that happens, I'll praise God for 2 children!" Anyway, thank you for recognizing the other side :)

The Declassified Adoptee said...

There are three sides.

Adoptees receive insensitive comments too. We also have to overhear the insensitive comments about us that are said/asked to both our Original and Adoptive parents.

Adoptees are also good people to ask about this.

Rachel said...

I seriously just had two of my best friends in the whole world say that they want to adopt because it's easier than pregnancy and labor. FALSE! It's just hard in a different way. Honestly, right now I'm dealing with it by telling them that they're simply wrong, and while adoption is great, it shouldn't be pursued because it's easy. Also, I think commiserating with other infertiles is healthy because there is a sense of community there. Understanding that infertility doesn't make sense to those who haven't experienced it also helps. Finally, remembering that I haven't experienced pregnancy or the difficulties that come along with that is important because then I am no better than the haters out there. The End. LOVE YOU, JILL!

Meg and Ken said...

I don't really get upset about the insensitive things, I know they have not been blessed by adoption and for that, I am sad for them. The only thing I get a lil bit mad at is when I get told "he is so lucky you adopted him" The reason for this is first, we are the lucky ones! Second, its an insult to his birthmom. They usually go on about how he will have a better life with us than with her and that pisses me off. He will have a different life, but he has as much love from them as he does from us. And to assume we are better than her makes me angry. My answer to this is we are ALL lucky he is in our lives and we are ALL in his!! Most people say stupid things because they are not educated about adoption. I know that and if I have time I like to talk about it and enlighten them. I love when I see the little light go off in their head when they finally "get it". Many people have come to see adoption for a beautiful thing because of our situation and for that I am grateful.

Unknown said...

I'm always surprised when my own family, when asking about our birth moms, will refer to my kid's birth moms as their mom. I mean no disrespect but, I am my kid's mom. It makes me feel as though they view me as a substitute mom. I know they don't mean it that way.

Please don't ask a couple, whether they have kids or not, about their infertility. First off, you don't know if they are infertile unless they tell you. Secondly, it's like asking someone to run around naked in front of the entire world. There are reasons why we adopt but we haven't explained it to most people, it's just not necessary. I usually just let them say what they want because they don't usually ask, they assume, and make comments as if they know the situation. To those who do ask I just tell them we don't talk about it.

Don't ask a couple who is wanting/waiting to adopt why they haven't been chosen or how long they think it will be before they *get* a baby. It can be hard to always remember that the blessing of a child comes from God, in God's time. And, you don't *get* a baby. You are blessed with a baby. And when that day finally comes, it's full of mixed emotions. You don't just feel your own happiness, you see and partially feel the heartache of the birth mom and extended family. When they ask us questions like this, and are being insensitive, I tell ask why would I pray for a mother to become pregnant and then have to feel heartache just so I can be a mom? That usually gets them to be quiet. If they are trying to be supportive I just remind them the average wait is 3 years and I know a lot of couples who have waited 8 years. That lets them know they should stop asking because the wait could be long.

Don't ask a parent who has adopted an older child, not a newborn, why they didn't adopt a baby. My children are my babies, don't take that away from my kids.

Don't ask an adoptive parent why they keep allowing visits with the birth moms. We love our birth moms. They made us parents. They love and miss their children every single day. They are trusting us to be good parents to their children. Why would I punish them for that? Not knowing when or how we would have children, not knowing if we would ever be chosen, is heart-wrenching. But, once your family is complete, that sorrow is short-lived. What our birth moms are feeling and experiencing on a daily basis is life-long. Don't try to find fault with us (adoptive family and birth family) loving each other.

Margaret said...

As an adoptee I used to get nasty comments all the time. I don't think that people really mean to be nasty with their comments just that they don't think at all.

My step-mother made a pretty nasty comment about adoption to me. It surprised me because my dad is adopted, my step-brother is adopted (before she married my dad) and of course me. Her comment when we said we were thinking about adopting: "Why would you want to raise someone else's kid?" Maybe she was referring to the fact that she had to raise me as my dad had custody of me after the divorce.

Silly people!

Que and Brittany's Adoption Journey said...

As you are well aware of, people are uneducated about adoption. Especially a modern adoption. And while I can deal with most of the "they mean well" remarks, it's the "on purpose" ones that really hurt.

Most of the time I have to count to 10 in my mind before responding. I don't want anyone to be able to say "The relief society president punched me in the face today." LOL

Unknown said...

I'd like to hear what adoptees say should never be said to them.

S said...

Ah, I get these on a daily basis almost. It is very irritating but I just figure people don't know alot about what I am going though or the reason why I cannot have children. I have explained to family and friends the things they shouldnt say so that I dont get mad at them for saying them. Some people dont mean to sound mean when they are saying things or give you suggestions but its still hurtful.

Limbo Mama said...

When I was trudging through my gauntlet of unsuccessful fertility treatments, several well-intentioned people told me: "You can always just adopt." Those five words ignite in me a firestorm of irritation.

I cannot wait until I am blessed with a baby through the process of adoption, but there is no "just adopting." The process is emotional, and arduous, and the happiness of a match is always tempered with the sadness of the birth mother/family who has had to make a heart-wrenching decision. "You can always just adopt" minimizes the process, and the all of the participants.

It really is all about education, and being willing to answer questions about the realities of what adoption entails. That's what I try my best to do as honestly as I possibly can.

Kristina P. said...

I think that the adoption blogs, and the information articles, are really the best way to get information out there. Terminology is constantly changing. What used to be OK, isn't OK anymore. One birth mother many not like a certain term, while another is OK with it. It can get confusing, even for someone like me, who has quite a bit of experience with adoption both personally, and professionally.

In fact, I was just watching "True Life" on MTV, which followed two young women who were looking into adoption for their babies. And even they both said, "Giving my baby up.", rather than "Placing my baby." So I can see where a lot of the misinformation comes in.

CCmomma said...

The checkout lady at the grocery store asked me how old my girls were and i said 4.5 and 3- She said wow- you were busy! I said- Yes i was but, my first was adopted so, i only had one physically- but i was busy. She said- That's so sad you had to adopt- she didn't want her? I said " no, she did want her- she wanted her but it wasn't the right time in her life to parent and she WANTED MORE for her than a teenage mother could provide. And we are forever blessed that she chose life and chose Us. - The Lady looked at me like" OH- SORRY for asking"
I feel the NEED to educate people in as little words as possible. It's almost like they feel silly for asking b/c i cut straight through the BS and tell them HOW GREAT ADOPTION and BIrth mothers are. I let them know we have an OPEN relationship and how Much of a Miracle it is for all involved. I must blow peoples minds or something b/c most have this bug-eyed look on their faces like: "I won't ask that lady anymore ?'s next time i see her"- It's Hilarious! Keep advocating and educating - awesome adoption friends!!!

Kara said...

Just read your guest post over at LDS Adoption Connection. Loved it! You have such a way with words. And dang all those "Susans" out there! ;)

Unknown said...

I just got an email from my sister in law like literally 10 minutes ago congratulating us on the birth of our 2nd son (through adoption)
Here is what she wrote: "I'm so happy for you that you have a new baby! And you didn't even have to go through the whole 9 month drama! :) Congratulations!"....
seriously?? I'm speechless...didn't I just trade the 9 months of "drama" for the last 10 years of pain and infertility??? people are sooo stupid.

Kelli said...

I have thought about this for several days. It still amazes me what people say. I have experienced adoption (our first child) and pregnancy (our second child) and 13 years of infertility. It has been an amazing and painful journey and at times very sacred and I have learned so much about human nature and unconditional love along the way. I have seen God's hand in our lives. I feel like I have heard a lot of well meaning but hurtful comments over the years. When your life doesn't follow the exact mold others expect-let the stupid comments follow.

I have had 2 different "ah-ha" moments over the last couple of years that have helped me deal with comments and to put things into perspective.

The first is that often well meaning people say insensitive things because they haven't walked down the same road I have-they haven't experienced adoption, infertility, etc. so there is no way for them to sympathize or understand and while I wouldn't wish infertility on anyone I sometimes just wish people would think before they spoke and walk one day in my shoes.

The second is that infertility, childlessness, and adoption are all very separate and unique experiences and you have to address the unique issues from each separately. Adoption and pregnancy have not healed all the wounds I have from infertility but I am working on it.

One of the best ways to deal with insensitive and hurtful comments is to get in as good a place emotionally as you can. Do what works for you and is most healing to you because although the comments will still be bothersome they may hurt a little less and might be easier to leave behind.

One of my favorite responses to really out there comments is "Why do you say that" or "why do you ask?" Nothing like putting the questions or comments back in someone's lap for them to explain.

But ultimately I have found that being straightforward with people-telling them why their comments hurt in a kind and respectful way is the most productive way to handle it. When appropriate I also share parts of my experience that may educate as well.

I LOVE adoption. I would not have my son without it-who has brought more joy and happiness to our family than I can put into words and I would not have had the amazing blessing of knowing and loving his birth mother. I will defend adoption and those who choose it and love it until my least breath.

Good luck everyone!

April Morgan McCoy "Auntie April" said...

I once, when I was pregnant and just decided to place, had a 16 year old pregnant teen (pregnant with 2nd child) tell me she would NEVER give her child up. She said she couldn't do it, that it would be too hard. It wasn't just what she said, but how she said it. She was very rude in her tone and said it in a way insinuating that I did not love my baby. I very calmly said that it was not about me but I was thinking about what was best for my child. I said that I would go through any amount of pain to ensure my child's happiness. I ended with, I also know that this of course is not always the best situation for everyone, but I know this is what's best for my baby. I then walked away before she could respond. I left and when out of site I started sobbing because I feel that so many people out there think only of themselves when they should be putting others first. I'm not saying she did anything wrong, but some do and I was upset by the way she went about it. It still bothers me from time to time.