Well, October certainly went out with a bang and here we are at the brink of the whirlwind that is November and December.
Known for crisp mornings, cozy sweaters, family time, and the celebration of thankfulness, November is the perfect choice for National Adoption Month.
During National Adoption Month, we celebrate the acts of compassion and love that unite children with adoptive families, and we rededicate ourselves to the essential task of providing all children with the comfort and safety of a permanent home. ~ President Barack Obama
In honor of the occasion, here is a little PSA on positive adoption language. It’s rare that someone intends to be offensive when they speak about adoption or ask questions about my family, and yet it happens. For whatever reason, 9 times out of 10, these occurrences take place in the cereal aisle. So I present to you, for your entertainment and enlightenment, Questions from the Grocery Store:
“What country are they from?”
Right, because we don’t make brown babies here in the US.
Not that I find it particularly appropriate to discuss the details of my adoption in front of the dairy case, but a better way to phrase that question would be: “Was it a domestic or international adoption?”
“Does she speak English?”
Yes, she sure does. At 3 months old. Because she’s a prodigy.
See above for appropriate phrasing.
“Do you have any real children?”
Nope, just these fake ones you see here…
Cross referenced with the “real children” question is: “Do they know their real mother?”
Referring to children or parents as ‘real’ is hurtful since it implies there are children or parents in this world who are not real. Of course, that’s not the case. The word you are looking for is ‘biological’. “Do you have any biological children?” = fine. When referring to the mother, ‘biological’, ‘birth’, and ‘first’ are all commonly used and generally accepted terms.
“My daughter has someone in her class who is adopted and I’m not sure how to explain it to her.”
This question is actually not offensive at all, it’s perfectly reasonable, but I get it a lot so I wanted to include it.
Here’s how I explain adoption to children: “Adoption happens when a woman has a baby but isn’t able to raise that baby. Because she loves her child so much, she chooses to place* her baby with a person or family that is able to raise him/her.”
Simple and honest is always the best way to go. Todd Parr’s ‘We Belong Together’ is a great children’s book on the topic.
*It’s important that we move away from using the old phrasing of “giving up her baby” and towards, “choosing adoption” – because, in most cases, that is exactly what these mothers are doing. They are making an incredibly difficult choice with the best interest of their child at the forefront.
“I don’t know how a woman could give up her baby.”
And I don’t know how some people come to be so incompassionate.
Oh, where to begin. We’ve already covered the “giving up” part, but as for the choice itself, I can only imagine that it comes from a place of extreme selflessness and the deepest kind of love. One of the hardest parenting decisions ever to be made.
“Someone should just tie her tubes already.”
(Typically said in reference to someone who has placed multiple children for adoption or had multiple children removed and placed into foster care.)
Wait, did you just say that my children shouldn’t have been born? I know that’s not what you meant to say, but you kinda did.
Every child born is a miracle who is meant to be here. Though our story is not one in which a woman chose us to adopt her children, and it was via foster care, social workers, and judge’s orders, my heart still bursts with thankfulness for my children’s first mother. No matter what else she has or hasn’t done in her life, she created the children that I love so much and have changed my life in the most amazing way. That’s my baby mama, these are our children, and if it weren’t for her, I wouldn’t be who I am today. You better believe that these children are meant to be here.
Let’s put away the judgment and negativity, and celebrate adoption for the miracle it is.
“For us to have each other is like a dream come true. No, I didn’t give you the gift of life, life gave me the gift of you.”