"So promise me you'll never forget...that you aren't an accident or an incident...you are a gift to the world, a divine work of art, signed by God. You were deliberately planned, specifically gifted, and lovingly positioned on this earth...Flooded by emotion, overcome by pride, the Starmaker turns to us, one by one, and says, 'You are my child. I love you dearly.'" Max Lucado, God Thinks You're Wonderful

Friday, August 8, 2008

Adoption Etiquette

I have been wanting to write something about adoption and what is and is not appropriate to ask or say. Things got busy and I just let it slip.

Blake's on call tonight and I have the computer to myself! So I am going to take a moment to share some thoughts, but this very well may be an on-going process.

First, let me say that when you are talking to me about our adoption I can totally tell where your heart is when you are asking questions, just by your demeanor. I don't want people to be so scared they might offend me that they don't ask questions...we want to share how God has blessed us through adoption. Please know that walking through this myself has taught me so much, so I am not pointing fingers. I just know so many of you have wanted to ask questions and have not known what's appropriate! We think this is a miracle and we want you to be able to experience in it.

So, in saying all of this...I hope this is helpful and answers questions for you.

1. Always remember how incredibly important our children's birthparents are to us. We will respect them in every way possible. We ask you to do the same. These birthparents are FOREVER a part of us and our children. In general it's probably more safe to just not ask questions related to their birthparents. We will give you the info we want you to know about them. As with anyone, as Christians we are to be gracious and show love to everyone, especially someone as heroic as a birthparent. Nuff said, tho I could go on and on here!

2. Before you ask a question, ask yourself, "Why do I want to know this?" If you are wanting this information so that you can judge the situation, then you probably should not ask it. We need no judgement, our children need none either. If you are judging the birthparent, then you are judging our child and therefore us as well.

3. Please do not refer to our children as "real" brothers. This makes it difficult to explain the next child that we will adopt, are they going to be a "fake" sibling. Come on guys! They are siblings because we adopted them and they are both now Shockleys, as will be the rest of our crew. The appropriate term is biological siblings.

4. On the same note, but even more painful...please do not refer to our children as "not your own". This happens more than you would ever imagine. These are our children, just as much as God gave you your little miracles, He did the same with us.
5. Please do not identify/label our children as "adopted". It's obvious that they are adopted, we are very open about this. They know they are adopted, we talk about it almost daily. But just as I never wanted to be identified as a diabetic (and still don't), please do not introduce our children as "adopted". Their adoption is not who they are, but just a part of their story.

6. Owen is almost 3. He understands much more than most adults think he does (Cooper does as well). Please do not ask me questions about their adoption or adoption in general when they are in the room. You might as well look down at those sweet brown eyes and ask them. In fact, I did that the other day when someone just asked right in front of Owen why he was placed for adoption. He clearly stated that he did not want to talk about it and we ended the conversation. Please remember how confusing it is for a child to understand why they were placed for adoption. Help us respect our children and their hearts.

I love you all! Thank you for walking through this with us. Thank you for loving our children and our road to calling them Shockleys. Thank you for loving adoption with us, even in the midst of it's trials. I hope this all came out right and was not offensive. I want it to be informative and helpful.

I know there will be more that comes up from time to time and I promise to post about it again.


Becki Francy said...

Yeah! Good post. All good points and very lovingly stated. Just so you know it doesn't just happen to you. Someone stated the other day that Ragon was so tan they knew David was her dad. I thought about asking her....was there any question? People just don't think...but you are right to point out, most of their hearts are in the right place...

Misty Jassey said...

thank you, Molly. Most of us who have not experienced adoption personally, don't think about how the questions we ask make others feel. Now we know and can be more sensitive. Love you! I think one of the most precious things is a mother's instinct to protect her children. You do a VERY good at it with as complex as your job is.

Angela said...

Molly, you are such a sweetheart! Thank you for these great reminders! I would NEVER want to say or ask anything that would hurt your sweet family in any way. So, it really is helpful to see these requests in writing. I also hope you know for sure that you can just come right out and say it to me if I'm ever out of line with something I say. I appreciate your honesty, and I know you love me, so I can take it! Much love to you!

Anonymous said...

I agree on ALL of these topics and also could add SO much more, but won't! *lol* I also hate it when people introduce our family and say "this is Marlo, they adopted her". UGH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I just can't deal with that. WHO CARES!!!! Also, I never have the desire to actually, physically want to hurt someone until they say this "aren't you glad you finally have one of your own". OH SISTER!!!!!!!!!!!! LIKE MARLO IS NOT MY OWN!!!!!! Told ya...burns me up! My children are equally a part of me and my family. Gosh I love my girls so much and people just need to think before they speak!

Like I always say: God creates our families and our children belong to Him. It is a gift that God gives us these babies!

Thanks for the post. I totally agree.

Love ya!

Courtney Connelly said...

Thanks for sharing your heart in the post as it is very informative and helpful information to know. What an incredibly precious picture you included in this post! You encourage me in so many ways!

Amanda said...

Excellent, excellent post.

Laura said...

Molly, I so appreciate all you have taught me about adoption etiquette! I have said things to other people over the years and did not realize what I was saying...thank you for helping to shape our vision, and our thoughts about adoption. These sweet little men are so awesome....I pray that all we do and say regarding who they are only blesses their lives and their little hearts! I love you!!

texasmcvays said...

Thanks for the information, it is very interesting to see what it may be like. We are however a mixed couple hoping to adopt biracially so we may be able to fly under the radar. But then there's always the folks that know & our relatives (oh well so much for under the radar).... You boys are adorable if I had any boys I bet that's pretty close to what they would look like. Congrats on your two boys so far and for how ever many more the Lord Blesses you with!!!
The McVays

Brooke and Peter said...

molly... i love your blog and your FAMILY! I look forward to reading more... as always... you are beautiful!

Lindsey said...

Molly...I couldn't agree more! My husband and I are always introduced as: This is Chris & Lindsey and this is there son. He is adopted though. Then the next question is: Is he a mixed child? I want to say What does it matter to you!!! I don't care if he is purple he is my son! Then it's well...Don't you want to try to get pregnant so you can have 1 of your own?! Right b/c I haven't ever tried to get pregnant and what are you saying Oaklee isn't mine...Thanks!

Have a great day! I love reading your blog!


sheridan said...

I loved reading this. I loved it all!!! So helpful and just plain good reminder that we should few everyone with the cross behind them-Jesus died for us all! Thank you for this.

Melodie said...

amen sister!! found your blog through a texas friend - not sure of your connection. (i'm from texas) but i remember your sweet family from the deaconess seminar. so glad to have found your blog!!

Shannon Stone said...

Can we go ahead and print that in the newspaper so EVERYONE can read it?! :) I'm not looking forward to those inevitable moments when someone says something in front of your child and your heart SINKS. I tend to be defensive and sometimes sassy, so I hope I can hold my tongue and realize that most people are well-intentioned, just not well-informed.

Love you! Shannon

Tracy said...

I found your blog through Robin (I am the "friend with 7 kids"!) I have 4 bios, 2 fosters (soon to be adopted) and one recently adopted chocolate baby. I remember when he first came to us, I took him to the doctor and this woman said to me, "Where did you get him?" Really??? You just asked me that question??? I told her he was sent by God! I, too, don't mind the honest, caring questions. But...it's the ones like I got at Sam's the other day. The 7 kids and I were waiting on pizza and I was holding Jacob in my lap. The lady next to us said, "Are they all your EXCEPT him?" I said, "Nope...he's the only one that's mine...the rest I picked up just to come shopping!" So far, Jake is just 2, so he has no idea that he is any different than the rest of us. But I appreciate your insight as to how I may be dealing with this in the future. Oh...and might I add...I love all of my kiddos the same, but there is something precious about the adopted child.