It is April 1st and yesterday marked the day that we first met our youngest. A highly anticipated encounter, met with similar emotion to the day our first daughter was born. This week marks yet another important date as a family, court day. The day the adoption was finalized and official. As we approach one of our most memorable days I feel that it's my duty as a parent to educate others on appropriate language for adoption.
The reason for my post stems from an interaction I had a few weeks ago. The interaction left me upset. Actually upset doesn't begin the describe the emotion. I was hurt by this person's words, shocked that they weren't picking up my clues that their language wasn't appropriate and I was torn between being a professional and being a protective mom. I wanted so badly to yell at this person (the mama bear in me was screaming), but I felt it wasn't the appropriate place to do so. To appreciate why I wrote the blog I feel I need to share the story. Here goes:
At the end of a meeting, the person with whom I was meeting pointed to the pictures of my family (my office is covered with them) and said, "are those your children?" In my mind I answered back cheekily with, "no I rented them for the picture", but in reality I said, "yes, aren't they great!" The person then proceeded to ask me, "are they yours yours?" I felt like saying, "no, someone else's entirely", but instead I said, "yes, they're mine mine", a little cheeky response back. When the person still didn't get the response they were looking for they repeated, but even slower, "no I mean, are they yours yours." Knowing full well what their intent was didn't change my response. I leaned in and said, "yes, they're mine mine". A couple more back and forth of these exchanges (this person was relentless), I finally said, "are you trying to ask whether my children are birth or adoptive?" I knew what their answer would be because this language of, are they yours, isn't new to me. The person quickly responded with yes, and I responded back that I did in fact have an adopted child and a birth child but either way they were both mine.
I hope you can sense my frustration from that interaction and appreciate why it is so important to educate others on appropriate language. I did hesitate to write this, because I think that most people get it, but there are definitely, as my story shows, a select few out there who still don't understand.
A quick lesson in adoption talk:
1. Birth child NOT Own child
2. Birthparent NOT Real parent
3. Parent NOT Adoptive parent (occasionally I use this term myself but it is used by the parents themselves and it should not be used as a qualifier)
4. Was adopted NOT Is adopted
5. Placed for adoption NOT Given up or abandoned
Pretty simple list, right? Along with positive language there's a great video called If you wouldn't say it about a boob job. Interesting title I know, but in fact the video is great and drives home many points about asking adoptive families questions. Go have a look, the video is great
For me it's all about education. Most people know when they see my family that we have at least one child who was adopted, and so let's all be open and honest about what that means and try to change some perspectives and vocabulary in the process.
We would love to hear your thoughts on this especially if you have adopted. Leave a comment below.
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