Thursday, December 30, 2010

Medium-thick skin

I've been doing some thinking lately on the comments people make when we are out and running around.

When we first started this whole adoption thing I wasn't familiar with the terminology
that is appropriate or not and I certainly didn't think I could have
possibly offended anyone with an innocent question.

Since being in the process I have been reading about other people and their journeys, and I eventually became aware of certain phrases that boil the blood of adoptive parents.

Not normally being a very "P.C." person,
I tend to take these type of social mores as a general rule of thumb,
and then do what I am comfortable with.
For example...
the whole "African American" vs. "Black" thing.
No one has ever referred to me as anything other than "white"...
certainly never German/Irish/Native-American.
I am personally a little "over" trying to please everyone with our labels.
My children are who they are.
When I fill out a form at a doctors office,
I normally circle "African"...
and leave off the "-American" part...
even though they ARE American by virtue of
their immigration status.

Hence, my confusion with the whole
"positive adoption language"

Some parents call them
"birth family"
"first family"
"biological family".

The only one that bugs me is
"real family"... as in,
"What happened to their REAL family?"
Yeah, that's offensive on a couple of levels.
If you have the right to know,
you already do.
We are their real family.
I know what you are asking,
but THINK about what you just said.

Some people ask if I have any other
"natural children".
I heard this yesterday.
"Obviously, you are not the natural mother of this child."
As for excusing this one...
I'm working on it.
I have no happy little reply,
nothing to say...
except I should send out a general warning to anyone who
feels comfortable enough to ask questions of me in this way...
my "filter" is gradually being flipped into the "off" position.
Next time I may go full-on sarcastic and
ask if "by natural, do you mean
he doesn't appear as though he grew in my uterus?
Or are you saying my son is a cyborg?"

I do have some thick-ish skin growing a covering
over my heart though.
When I hear someone talk about
having my "hands full"...
what used to bug me now just
makes me think, wow - they think I am a SUPER mom!
And I check to be sure my cape isn't showing.

When someone wants to talk about adoption
when I am not prepared to have that conversation at that moment...
I try to envision myself being able to impact the life of more
orphaned children who may now have a family
because of a conversation I chose to have
on my terms.

I'm not saying I'm perfect,
but I am learning that not everyone
with something stupid coming out of their mouth
has malicious intent.
Sometimes they are just as ignorant as I was
just over a year ago
and I need to have some grace.


  1. I love you, big sister!
    You're a wonderful mama.

    Oh, and I had a dream about the youngest last night.
    Just he and I were shopping at a huge consignment sale.
    I was looking for shoes for Alice.
    He was sitting in the front of my shopping cart and I kept kissing those sweet cheeks. :)

  2. The natural/real family thing is really starting to bother me to. And if I hear "hands full" one more time from somebody I might slap them in the face with a fish.

    The rest...I can so far deal with and it doesn't bother me....but yes, those 2 things are really getting to me as well and if you come up with a smart-alec comment, PLEASE share.

  3. Ha! I just saw your "drama-free comment zone" note...very funny.
    Anyway, a possible response to the whole "natural" thing??? "Sure feels "natural" to me!" I don't know. I haven't been there yet.
    My husband and I are not easily offended, and most of our friends lack a decent filter. I'm sure it gets VERY old to hear the same thing over and over and to feel like you have to be an adoption advocate 24/7. I definitely think you should take the "hands full" comment as a compliment. I have three "natural" (hee hee) kids, and I get that comment ALL THE TIME. I think I heard that someone's response was "Better full than empty!"

  4. i love, love, LOVE this post, and i will likely steal some of your responses when i find myself (yet again) shocked into silence.

    but mostly, i needed to read your last paragraph. thank you.

  5. I love your thoughts on these issues - thanks for being so open!


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