*Adoption blog, star date April 2011What's Way Back Wednesday?
There was a post titled "Things You Should Never Say" that popped up in my blog reader via another adoptive mom's blog earlier this week. *Since then, the post has been deleted, but this article includes many of the same statements. (Side note: the bloggyverse is a strange, intergalactic web, is it not? Clicking leads you from here to there to yonder and before you know it a post about adoption starts a daisy chain that links you to something like this.)
I had to re-read her post a few times before it could all sink in. I've heard nearly every single one of those "No-No" statements to adoptive families. But I've also been guilty of saying a few of the others as well, forgetting how awful it might be for a newly pregnant mom to hear my horrific labor and delivery story. It's hard to understand how those things might come across to someone in that frame of mind. That post reminded me to think twice before opening this mouth of mine.
It also has to be pretty difficult for traditional families to understand what we feel like as an adoptive, transracial family. On the whole, I'd agree with a lot of this mom's statements. Maybe I'm not as offended as she seems to be by some of them, but then again I'm pretty new at this. But for the sake of understanding us and this new culture families like mine are creating, here are some unique characteristics or noteworthy thoughts (some mine, some others adoptive parents') that might be helpful:
We want you to understand that there is more to our children than their hair.
We want you to understand that for the most part, our children are not "normal" emotionally and when someone insists that a certain behavior is "normal," we know from hours and hours of home studies and conferences and seminars and adoption parenting books and meetings with adoption therapists that this certain behavior is NOT "normal," that our children are NOT "just like other 6 year olds," etc.
We want you to understand that the way we discipline our children probably looks a lot different than what others do with their children. And most of the time, we don't really need or want to hear your suggestions for what you think our child needs. Discipline is something adoptive parents are forced to carefully examine from the first home study meeting to the post adoption reports, and is a topic we have analyzed quite thoroughly.
We want you to understand that sometimes when our children have corrective surgeries to correct a birth defect or physical deformity, it makes us sad to lose their first smile, face, body, etc. Even though you think they are more beautiful with a fixed mouth, we grieve the loss of the one they were born with.
We want you to understand that we want our children to be celebrated just like any other child in our social circles or families. We want their impending arrival to be announced and celebrated, just like biological children are. We want and need for you to help us with meals when we first return home with them (whether coming in from the adoption agency or DHR down the street or when we arrive back in the country after 24+ hours worth of inter-country travel). Sometimes we want a baby shower, and sometimes we don't. We want to be asked how we feel about that.
We want you to understand that sometimes bonding and attachment don't come quickly or easily in some families, and that you can help us with that by redirecting the children to us rather than delighting in their attention.
We want you to understand that we need your encouragement. Pray for us, check in on us, and talk to us about what's going on with our children. It's also fair to add that we want you to know that sometimes we want to talk about it and sometimes we don't. But either way, we like it when you show us you haven't forgotten about us.
I hesitate to post this, because I don't want any of you sweet readers to think you've grievously offended me or my little family or any of our adoptive friends in some way; odds are, you haven't! But I probably will go ahead and share it, just for the sake of helping shine a bit of light on what adoptive families are thinking and feeling. I suppose that the overwhelming theme of these thoughts is simply that sometimes adoptive families need you to try and put yourselves in our shoes before making a comment or overlooking us in some way. The same way I need to make sure I think twice before telling my hellacious delivery story to a newly pregnant mommy. :)