As an adult who was adopted as an infant, I feel like I’ve heard it all. Questions or comments like:
- Have you met your real parents?
- Is your brother your real brother?
- What happened that your real mother gave you away?
- (To my mom) She looks like you!
And then there was the time that my brother was misbehaving (as all kids do!), and someone who knew he was adopted said “Can’t you just send him back?”. Good thing I didn’t learn about that comment until I was an adult!
My brother was teased/bullied horribly about adoption as a child – another situation I did not learn about until we were adults. It has always been my opinion that kids learn those kind of attitudes somewhere… maybe at home?
Our family has also had fun with adoption conversations. When my half sister (my biological father’s daughter) moved in with me for university, we became quite close, and she always calls my parents Mom and Dad. One day at church a member who had known our family for many years had this blank look on his face as to where this second daughter came from… my dad’s response was that this was the daughter they had kept in the basement all these years, now letting her out as an adult! Ha! You would have to know my dad – always the funny guy! The look on the poor gentleman’s face… he didn’t know what to say! Dad quickly clarified, but I will never forget that experience! We still laugh about it!
The purpose for this post is simple. It is 2015, and there is no longer a “good enough excuse” to be uninformed about adoption and adoption conversations.
Your words have the power to hurt. Thank goodness my brother does not remember the comment to my mom! But can you imagine if he had been older and that had stuck with him?
Words matter. If someone asked you if you were working at a “real job”, would you be offended? What about if someone asked you if you had “real food” for lunch. That word “real” somehow implies that the opposite of real is fake. I was not raised by fake parents, believe me! And I wasn’t “given away” like some old clothes that are no longer wanted – my biological mom (who I have met and love dearly!) made an informed decision about what was best for me.
There are a lot of articles on these topics out there (including many that I am posting on my Adoption-related Links page) – take this opportunity to learn how you can best support families in your circle. Believe me – adoption is a lot more common than you think! And I know that when people around me take the time to really ask intelligent questions and learn about adoption with an open mind and heart, I am so completely thankful!