This scene plays out in the grocery store, on the playground, at the doctors’ office:
Random mom: “Are they twins?”
Random Mom: “They’re so cute. How old are they?”
Me: long pause to try and calculate months “Ummm, 20 and 26 months. We adopted.”
Random Mom: She now has three choices, go on about her business, ask a rude and intrusive question or begin what usually turns out to be a fun conversation on adoption.
I am not particularly sensitive when strangers ask questions about adoption. In fact, many times I love it because it is an opportunity to encourage people who may be misguided about adoption timelines or enlighten people who may have misgivings about how they will feel towards a child that doesn’t share their gene pool.
But, my daughter is only two and as of now, I haven’t had to worry too much about her feelings as it relates to the public comments and questions. I am beginning to feel like this season of safety is starting to wind down and so the intrusive question could start to have more effect than it has in the past. The more my daughter understands, the more her heart is at risk for being hurt by many unknowing adults wondering about how our family was created.
When we boil it down, it comes down to educating ourselves and teaching our kids a new way of looking at society and how God can orchestrate a family.
If I could be brutally honest and share some topics on my heart that feel hidden, it’s that us adoptive families have typically had to battle through a lot to bring our children home. Many times we are not supported by our families, many times we have heard every story there was to hear about failed adoptions, adoptive children who grew up and hated the families who adopted them, how adopted children struggle with peers, how birth parents will want the child back and the list could go on and on.
As you probably know, some families wait for many years before they can actually bring their child home due to red tape, international conflict and even domestic wars, all the while they are hearing these comments, and they hurt. Where we desire affirmation, empathy and encouragement, we are often met with opposition, fear, and threatening remarks.
I haven’t quite figured out what the motive for the comments are, but suffice it to say that you don’t decide to adopt a child the way you may get pregnant, sometimes by accident. If we have decided to adopt we have had many conversations about it with people we love, our spouse, pastors and/or friends. We have thought through those things, prayed deeply, and most of us are acting out of a joyful obedience to what God has called us to.
In the same way that I would not walk up to a pregnant woman and talk to her about her risk of miscarriage, birth defects or her child being a prodigal, its just not a loving thing to mention all the hardest stories of adoption. The truth is that most likely we have considered the risks about adoption sometimes more heavily than a family who chooses to have biological children.
Let me clarify, before I instill fear in all of your hearts to talk to any adoptive family about their story. I’m not saying this to make you feel bad or to not ask questions, I love to talk about adoption because I can’t find anything more exciting than adoption at the moment; spiritual adoption or physical adoption. My desire is to come along side of you, and help you get a broader perspective and a healthier environment for these questions.
- Instead of “Is she adopted”, how about “what a beautiful family God has created!”
- Instead of “Which one is adopted”, how about “I’d love to hear the story of your family some time, can I get your email?”
- Instead of “Where is he from”, how about, “It looks like God has done big things with your family!”
- Instead of “Is she your real daughter, or “are they real sisters”, how about “Wow, what a unique or awesome family God has created!”
We need to be cautious of our messages,
not only because they can ostracize adopted children,
but they can also create insecurities in biological children.
My friend is adopting two children of a different race, so she will have different struggles than mine. Their faces shout “adopted” but this family has a desire just to be a normal family that God has created. Some discussions need to happen away from our children. We, as moms, also need to educate our kids that all families are not the same. Just as we need to teach our kids that a person with special needs is incredibly valuable to God and needs to be treated with great honor. In the same way, we need to teach our kids that different is good, God created uniqueness and a family is no less “real”. Families look different and that is OK! It is our job to lead this in our homes and not shy away from these discussions with our children.
As my little precious child who our good friends nicknamed, “Hallelujiah Hollins,” just turned two, and we are beginning to tell her story of adoption to her, I want the message to her heart to be that we wanted her, we fought for her, we believe that the Lord has an incredible purpose for her life, it is an honor to be her mother and she is every bit a part of our family as our biological children are.
She is our true daughter, and I am her “real” mom. Her story is a thing of beauty, and it is reflective of God’s love for me. Her position in our family is out of a response of our love for Jesus and we feel like the recipients of the gift she is to our family, not the gift givers.
I know that her story begins with a loss and may be difficult for her to work through. That is something we have and will continue to pray over her. But, God is in the business of restoration and healing and I have great hope that despite this initial loss, she will shine brightly in her peer group and be a bold follower of Jesus and an example to many others.
God writes each of our stories differently, he calls us to unique callings and purposes. How can we support each other in our words, prayers, and communities?
“I will not leave you as orphans; I will come for you.” ~John 14:18
If you are considering adoption and have questions, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’m happy to connect you with some wonderful blogs and resources.