Saturday, July 10, 2010

Adoption Blunders

When you become a part of the adoptive community in any form, you usually find yourself becoming an adoption advocate as well. In our society, adoption is often thought of as a second-rate way to have a family. For example, throughout our adoption journey, people have assumed Chris and I have infertility issues. This is not the case, but it's been sad to realize most people don't view adoption as a first choice and therefore will assume you are doing it because you "can't have kids."

So like I said, you become advocates. You realize that you want your children to grow up in a world where people make less offensive blunders than they do now. So you start trying to politely correct people when they use the wrong terminology, etc. You walk away offended at first. But then you start to realize that you yourself could've very well said that same offensive thing before you learned so much about adoption. It's an issue of simply not knowing.

In this post I want to share my own list of adoption blunders we often encounter. This is not for the purpose of making people feel guilty or pointing out others' faults. It is simply an act of advocacy...to share knowledge so that adoption can be more widely understood and treasured and so that perhaps my children won't have to make their own list.

Adoption blunders we often encounter:

1. "Are you going to have your own kids, too?"
I am often asked this by friends and I know they simply don't realize that this implies Ephraim is something less than my son. I try to politely rephrase the question when I answer: "Biological kids? No, at this point, we don't." Because is Ephraim my son? YES. If I have biological kids, is he less "my own child" than they will be? No.

2. "Will he speak English?"
This one always makes me laugh and yes, we have heard it more than once. Just to clear the air, my son says some words in English, uses American Sign Language, started saying "agua" this week, and we are trying to teach him some Amharic.

3. "Do you know anything about his real parents?"
We are his "real" parents. We don't know anything about Ephraim's biological parents, but a "real" parent is the one who takes care of a child on a daily basis. There is nothing more "real" than the love I have for Ephraim, than the things I do everyday to make sure he is healthy and happy.

4. "Is he adopted?"
I am shocked at how often I am asked this when I am out alone with Ephraim. My husband could be black for all you know. If Chris was black, I'd be so consistently offended at this. Why is it assumed that Ephraim couldn't be my biological son? I understand when Chris and I are together, obviously Ephraim is adopted. But at the same time, do you really need to ask this of a total stranger? I really hope these types of questions and comments stop by the time Ephraim is old enough to understand. I don't want him to constantly feel like everyone knows he's adopted and that this is some strange thing people feel the need to ask about.

These are just a few. I might add to this list later. We are learning more and more simple answers to these types of questions and comments that help dispel ignorance and will hopefully help Ephraim see himself as normal even when faced with ignorance around him. And again, I know we were once ignorant, too.

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