This post has been brewing, and yesterday during a hike, it kind of came to a head. (Probably because I'm pregnant and I can't just be polite/passive in my current emotional state:)
As we were hiking a local trail we stopped to let the kids climb a little rock and a woman and her family walked past us, and on the way by she asked a few questions. "Did you adopt these kids? Are any of them yours?" "Where are they adopted from?" "Why not Africa?" "Do they have emotional problems?"
She didn't even say hello, or ask their names, or stop hiking!
And my gut, rude reaction is:
If you don't know me from Adam, you have no right asking me personal details about my children and their history and their current status. Especially in front of them!
I know we are quite the spectacle, and at this point I am not
(usually) offended by all of the staring and gawking we get. But people are very nosy and honestly, just rude about their curiosity of our family.
I can usually ignore the ignorance part of how people ask questions. But the actual just plain rude questions are getting very frustrating.
For those adoptive moms who are reading this, how do you respond when people ask you questions that are inappropriate? How about when you know they are trying to be polite but don't ask things in an appropriate manner?
For those of you who are reading this and don't know the adoptive "lingo" here are a few pointers. First off, the reason that using the correct, or positive, language when speaking about adoption is so important is that words are meant to evoke thought and feeling. And if we do not choose positive, affirming, and empowering words when speaking about adoption it sends the message that adoption (and therefore the children who have been adopted) are second best. We need to choose emotionally correct words rather than emotionally laden words.
Here is a few examples of the terms we often here from strangers that are very negative:
Real child- (referring to Tre) all of our children are real, and this implies that our adopted children are not as "real" to us as Tre. The correct term here would be biological child. And honestly, in my mind, it doesn't matter. All of our children are our children. Who is biological and who is not is none of your business, I could have had many black lovers! (David says when people ask this I should just say, they have a black dad.)
Is Adopted- my child WAS adopted, it was an event, he is no longer adopted, he is now ours, forever and ever. The correct term would be was adopted.
And there are plenty more, if you care to use the correct positive language when interacting with families you encounter, check out this link, it's a one page, short document that will help you understand.
Don't get me wrong, I love talking about our adoption stories! And I love being able to help people understand more about foster care and adoption in our community. But when doing it in front of my children, and often times without even an introduction or pleasantries being exchanged, it feels very intrusive and aggressive. I hope to find the correct language myself to use during these interactions, that is both educational and positive for the questioner, and for my children.
I often get the "Wow you've got your hands full!" comment, and someone gave me the idea to say, " They are full of wonderful things!" and I love that, because it is so demeaning when people say that, and this lets my children know, I am so glad I have them in my arms! So I need your ideas on how to politely answer people's questions and at the same time empower my children!
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