09 May 2016


I was talking to someone recently and they made a few, uh, inaccurate comments about adoption. By inaccurate, I mean insulting, if you're the sort to be insulted by someone's ignorance. Not being one to give the benefit of the doubt anymore, I couldn't help but clear it up immediately.

Not even two days before that, I heard someone introduced as "so-and-so's 'adopted' daughter." I saw something similar posted on facebook.

I'm used to regularly clearing up misconceptions and misguided information. This isn't new to me. There's not some phenomenon causing people to suddenly forget everything they know about adoption and appropriate comments.

In taking it all in stride, I realize maybe people might just need a bit of a refresher on what adoption is and what it isn't. So, here you go. Part one, probably, because there's a lot to be said.

Adoption is a legit way to build a family. Really, truly, it is. I became a mother through adoption- twice. You can trust me on this one. Or, I don't know, legal proceedings that declare it as such. It's a viable option on its own and isn't a last resort, as some would elude.

As for all the variations that a family can have, a family formed through adoption clearly means there are children involved- often impressionable children that are very likely to be within earshot of comments and questions that are better left unsaid, anyway.

Adoption is not a qualifier. Introducing or referring to someone as "adopted" is just as necessary as referring to someone as "vaginally delivered." Which is to say, it's not at all necessary. If you've been doing either, you should really stop.

Adoption is not an all-access pass to personal information. When you're met with something that isn't what you're used to, or what you might consider the norm, you become curious. It's natural. It's understandable. What isn't acceptable is feeling entitled to information to satisfy your own curiosity at the cost of someone's privacy.

Sometimes people will share stories freely. Realize that the stories you do hear are almost always being told from the perspective of the adoptive parent. Adoption stories are multi-faceted and involve multiple people. As an adoptive parent, it is not my place to tell, or even completely know, the stories of my children's birth mothers. As a parent, it is my responsibility to safeguard my children's personal information.

Similarly, adoption isn't something you need to comment on for the sake of commenting. You aren't passing up an awesome opportunity to connect with someone should you make the wise decision to not pipe up that you know someone who knows someone who adopted and they said/experienced x. Promise.

Adoption is not about saving anyone. Adoptive parents aren't saviors. They aren't saints. They know this. They should know this. Don't tell them they did a wonderful thing. Don't tell them their children are lucky.

Adoption is different for everyone. Adoptions are closed. Adoptions are open. Adoptions are same race. Adoptions are transracial. Adoptions are infant domestic, foster care, international, older child, kinship. Adoption looks different from child to child within the same family, and it certainly looks different from my family to the neighbor of your sister that you're attempting to draw comparisons between.

Adoption is not always the answer. It's not the answer for every unplanned pregnancy. It's not the answer for every couple looking to start a family. It's not the answer for every couple struggling with infertility. It can be a wonderful answer, but it is not something to enter into without being completely committed and armed with information, education, and support.

Adoption is normal. It impacts my life every day, influencing so many of my family's choices, but I don't always stop to think about it directly. I live and breathe it without giving it a second thought, as do so many others. I mean, until off-handed, idiotic comments bring it back to my attention, front and center.

People who are adopted deserve to have it normalized, as do birth parents. It should be normalized by teachers, school administration, doctors. It should be normalized so that its representation in movies and tv shows is done accurately and not offensively. Flippant "you must be adopted" jokes should stop. I mean, they aren't even funny.

Adoption is not always rainbows and unicorns. This is not my phrase, but it's one I've heard often. As incredible as adoption can be, it's sometimes not. Coercion happens. Unethical adoption agencies exist. People adopt for the wrong reasons. Adoptees are lied to. There is loss. A lot of loss.

Adoption is worth discussing. I am passionate about adoption. It is a substantial part of my world and my heart. I spend hours each week reading articles and studies, and talking to others who do the same. I'm quick to shut down you down if you're ridiculous, and I might be a little heavy on the sarcasm, but I am usually willing to have a sincere, albeit educational conversation. Comment, email, whatever- if it's from a place of sincerity and a desire to learn, I'm happy to engage.

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