“This is my son, his wife, and their adopted kids,” my father-in-law beamed. Our three young children looked on silently as the man they knew as “grandpa” discussed each of their origins.
A few minutes later, in a quiet corner of the room where my children nor my father-in-law could hear, I threatened my spouse.
“You talk to him, or I will. He introduces our family like that again, and I’ll never come to another one of these reunions. I don’t care how good Aunt Lola’s salad is or Grady’s barbecue.”
If you have adopted children, you should cling to the same guidelines. Don’t let barbecue or salad sway you. Your child should not have to LIVE adoption.
Not forcing your child to “LIVE” adoption means several things.
Number one: Adoption is not the defining part of your child. It’s not. Don’t you make adoption the most significant part of your child’s identity, and do not allow others.
This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t talk about this critical piece of who your child is, but there is a time and a place. And being introduced to a hard-of-hearing second cousin is not the time.
He is not an “adopted” child. He is the baseball player, the bossy one, the great storyteller, and the kid who jumped from the high dive.
You are not an “adoptive” mom. You are the nutritionist, the cab driver, the tutor, the storyteller, and the one who tread water for five minutes while he got up the courage to jump.
Number two: STOP complaining. Whining and nit-picking have become the default position for many people. There are countless complaints in the adoption community. Okay, so I complained about my children being introduced as adopted. But I did something about it and then let it go. That’s what you have to do. Address the behavior and the complaint, and then STOP.
Don’t whine about not getting a baby shower or your mom not showing up to help with the new baby as she did for your sister. Your children do not need to hear you complain. Complaining means there must be something second-class about adoption.
Number 3: Show love, compassion, and gratitude to the birth family. Your child will constantly hear things like:
- “The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.”
- “A chip off the old block.”
- “Dead ringer for his father.”
- “Like father, like son.”
- “Runs in the family.”
- “It’s in her blood.”
- “Where does she get that from?”
Hopefully, he won’t hear them from you, but from TV, friends, teachers, and others. Regardless of the debate between nature vs. nurture, your child doesn’t need to hear badmouthing about their DNA.
With great sincerity, I tell my children that if they could inherit anything from their birthmother, I hope they inherited her strength. Going through a pregnancy and flying in the face of mainstreaming thinking by placing a child requires strength, courage, and forethought.
Number 4: Laugh every day.