Most of the time I can shrug them off and move on, but some need to be shared here. I also want to talk about them because I know several of you have adopted and can share your stories (and your clever responses). One of my friend's brother is starting this process and is using these etiquette posts to educate her family on what is okay to say. You might pull up some of the other posts using the adoption etiquette label, because I think the first one had some good thoughts too.
"Where did you get them?" I politely inform them of the agency we used and the city they were born in.
"Are they foster kids?" No, but even if they were that's not right to ask. If we had foster children, pointing that out only reminds the child of the situation with their first family. They need to feel loved and chosen, and not reminded all of the time they are only here for a little while. They aren't my adopted kids either...they are my children! They just happen to join our family through adoption. It's not a label, just a part of their story.
"Do they have the same parents?"- Yes, my husband and I are their parents. No, they do not all share biological parents. And why does that matter anyway? Questions about birth families are generally off limits. I will tell you what I want you to know. That is very private information and very intimate to my child. I want them to understand their story first before everyone else does. I could not say that enough...be very sensitive to the subject of birth families.
"Do you have any of your own?" - I really don't like this one. What makes a child more my own than these three? Please use the right words: biological children. And no, we don't have any of those, we chose not to. This wasn't our plan B.
"Do they call you mom?" No lie, I got this one yesterday. Lady...come on. Have you never known a child in an open adoption? Yes, I am their mom and they call me that. This one was almost laughable. But so many people have questions about open adoption. We often talk about how our kids have 2 moms that love them very much. We know less about their birth fathers, so we don't talk a ton about them except for in very quiet moments.
"How do they feel about open adoption?" First, we never say that "open adoption". They just know adoption and they know their story and it's very natural for them. They have no weirdness that adults put on kids about having relationships with their birth parents. That's all bunk in my opinion. That's adoptive parents making excuses for why they don't embrace birth families. Kids pick up on how parents feel about their birth parents. They will be weird about it if you are...and I seriously believe it will become an issue down the road. They will embrace it if you do, and your closeness with your child will deepen because you are loving and accepting ALL of who they are.
But some of the worst things are not questions at all, but what people think are compliments. These make me want to gag.
"They are so blessed to have you." Are you kidding? We are BEYOND blessed to have THEM!!! I mean, I think we are good parents, but every family is blessed to be together.
"You are doing the ultimate mission for God." NO! This is not a mission, these are my children. I didn't save them. Yuck. That's awful for a child to hear that someones sees them at "outreach" or a good deed. Please don't adopt children because you feel this way. Can you imagine what it must feel like for a child to be brought up feeling this from home?
"I just couldn't do it. I couldn't handle losing a child." Well, life is not about you. How come I have never heard someone say that of marriage? One in every 2 marriages fails, and yet no one says I just couldn't get married because chances are we'd be divorced. No one could walk into this wanting to lose a child, but it's well worth the risk. Being with Kennedy for 8 days was worth the loss of her. I'd do it a million times over. We are not super heroes, we are parents and we have to take that risk because it's a part of the journey. Don't act like we don't have feelings and intense bonding and deep love for every child placed with us. God carries us through, it's not by our own strength.
One of my sisters wanted to know what IS okay to say. She sees families like ours in public and wants to show her love and support. Yes, we have a need to talk to everyone in our family! Here are things I love hearing and we actually get a lot of these:
Your family is beautiful! Sorry but we just couldn't keep from staring.
Your family looks just like my family. I love seeing that!
Your children are gorgeous. They behave like angels too (just kidding, just wanted to see if you were still paying attention!)
Your kids are beautiful. We have always talked about adopting, do you mind if I ask questions?
Your family makes me smile.
Okay, hope this was read how my heart meant it to come out. I never want to offend anyone in writing this stuff.