With National Adoption Week just a week ago in the UK (Nov. 4-10, 2013), we thought what better time to talk about the totally off-colour comments people make when you announce you are adopting.
Before that though, there have been several changes to adoption law in Great Britain and we found a great site that goes through all of them. Check out this link for more information regarding all stages of adoption including resources for families that have already completed the adoption process.
Back to being cheeky then shall we? We attempted everything under the sun to get pregnant and, although we are currently working with a surrogate, we got elbow, neck and knee deep in to the adoption process before that opportunity presented itself. When we made our announcement that we were adopting, we were shocked by the misconceptions people have about adoption. The questions we got were truly remarkable in their total disconnection with reality. Perhaps, folks have this preconceived notion that you go to a 'baby farm' and just pick one out and walk away with your new family, happily ever after. I thought that since we had closed the door on the whole needles thing, that the off-colour comments would fade into the past. Also, wrong! After trudging through all of these well-intended, but somewhat offensive questions, we thought we should share some of them with you.
Therefore, we have made a list of the top 5 bonehead things not to say to people adopting as well as cheeky responses that, if nothing else, you can think of while you are in the moment.
1. Don't you want your own child?
Naw, I am getting lazy and want to take the first thing I can get my hands on. Can I have yours? Or really, just dress up a dog as a child, I won't be able to tell the difference. In reality, an adopted child is no less "your child" than a biological one. Don't believe me ... ask someone who has adopted a child if they consider that child to be "theirs." After picking yourself up off the ground with a tingly sensation around your left eye, I think you will see things their way.
2. Are you going to pick out a boy or a girl?
Not sure on this one. Maybe we will do the whole eenie-meenie-minie-moe technique. How did you pick the sex of your child? You didn't?! Huge shocker! When we get our grocery cart at the adoption mega-center, we are going to hit up the Nobel prize winning, full scholarship, football quarterback, boys isle. No, there is no "picking" with adoption, the birth mother/parents pick the adopting couple. The adopting couple does all they can to show the birth mother that they would be good and loving parents to any child.
3. Will you tell your child how much they cost?
Do you tell your kids how much you paid to conceive them? Let's do the math for you ... 1 bottle of tequila- $20, 1 lime- $0.75, 1 care-free romp in the sack- $free.99, throw in a pregnancy test- $15.99 ... and bam Little Johnny cost you $36.74. Ok, the point is no, we don't plan on making our child feel guilty or feel like they are an object for purchase. It devalues human life.
4. Don't they pay you to adopt?
Do they pay you to eat or sleep? No, they also don't pay you to adopt ... whoever the "they" is. There is such a thing as foster care in which you can receive a modest reimbursement to take in children that are in the foster system. This is a different beast entirely and although in some cases the fostered children do go on to be adopted, the system is there for temporary care of children in need of a stable environment. Let's look at it this way, how much did you get paid to have all the memories you have made with your child? The way we see it, fulfilling that burning desire to have a family and start making those memories is worth much more than any currency on the planet.
5. You know, now that you are adopting you will get pregnant. XYZ friend of mine had it happen to her.
Whoa ... stop right there. You are telling me I wasted $60K on a "pretend" medical condition called infertility, and all I had to do was pay $35K to go through the adoption process so that midway through, I will get miraculously pregnant? Hallelujah! Now, don't tell the fully-packed fertility clinics this secret or they will have to close down and go out of business. What will I do with the adopted child that I only "picked" so I could get pregnant? Is there an "I got pregnant" return policy? Nope, nope, nope. Adopt because you will love that child, period. It does not matter what happens afterwards, you and your adopted child will and should have an incredibly close connection for the rest of your lives.
If you are reading this and you are the recipient of these comments, remember people don't know all the facts of things they are not familiar with. They only know the rumors. Yes, these comments hurt, but use these opportunities to foster a conversation that will go further. Educate and be the voice. Now if you are reading this and think to yourself, "Hmmm, I have probably said such a comment at some point." Use this time to ask supportive questions. Try these next time: How can I help you? Tell me about the process. I know this is difficult, I am thinking of you. Or just break out the smile and nod technique. Worst case scenario,break dance ... just kidding.
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C&C from MTV's True Life
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