What I Wish You'd Said
Four and a half years ago we told our families we were adopting. The first person I told was my sister. We were black friday shopping at Urban Outfitters (goodness how my life has changed) and I was buzzing with excitement about the idea that in the next year (ha!) I'd be a mom. We'd planned to wait to tell our parents first but very randomly while in line at the check-out I nervously blurted out "so yeah, me and daniel are going to adopt a baby". My sister gasped and grabbed me and instantly started to cry. Then she gushed "I am so excited about this!!" Of course right about this time we got to the front of the line and now my crying sister and goofy smiling self are standing in front of of some poor guy with really stretched ears and he's just staring at us. My sister says to him "she's adopting a baby!" and he smiled, and we laughed.
The season of sharing was a really special one for us. Our families and friends were incredibly gracious and while we had a couple uninformed comments, the majority of people in our community surrounded us with love and support. Four and a half years later, I wish I could hug each of those people and tell them thank you. It's been a huge part of what's kept us going when things got rough.
I was sadly reminded a few weeks ago, as I sat on the phone listening to a friend share some of the sad and extremely discouraging things that were said to her when she told her loved ones she was adopting, that this is not the story for many people. Many adoptive families find themselves immediately deflated by hurtful comments as soon as they share their exciting news. I reached out to other adoptive moms and asked them a question; "What do you wish your friends and family had said when you told them you were adopting?" In addition to their answers, nearly every person shared a story about something awful that someone had said to them. I was shocked to hear some of these stories because some of them were not just ignorant but downright hateful. Today I want to share the answers I received in hopes that as you read this you'll hear the heart behind these women and perhaps be better prepared to answer when someone you love tells you they're adopting.
And 5 things NOT to say:
Are you ever going to have your own kids?
The children I adopt will 100% legally and emotionally be "my own". We love who we choose to love.
I'll be praying that you guys get pregnant. Have you tried...?
I literally had a woman tell me she would like to pray over my ovaries after I told her we were adopting. Like, right there, on the spot. I'd known her for about 10 minutes (which is how long it took before she asked when I was going to have children). Although I know her heart and intentions were good, it was awkward to tell her we were choosing adoption first because it was already was quite clear that she viewed adoption as "Plan B" or lesser than pregnancy. There are many adoptive families who do not have an infertility story. Also many couples who have struggled with infertility have been thoughtful, patient, grieved the loss of not being able to have a biological child and are totally pumped about their new adoption journey. Don't ruin this exciting time for them, rejoice with them! Either way, unless someone explicitly states otherwise, assume that adoption is Plan A and we are excited about it! Also, stop offering unsolicited sex and fertility advice to people. It's weird.
I know someone who adopted a kid and then (insert horror story).
And I knew a guy that was struck by lightning on the beach. Okay actually it was a guy who worked in the same office complex as someone I know who used to live in Florida. How is this story helpful at all? (BTW you probably know a lot of really happy families who have beautiful stories of adoption. You just don't know it.)
You're a great person. That kid will be so lucky.
Actually, this kid has already gone through a loss that's unimaginable to most of us...not lucky. But yes, I am really great.
Why adopt a kid from somewhere else when there are so many kids here?
Because a zip code shouldn't determine whether or not you get to have parents. Also, if you haven't adopted domestically you have absolutely no right at all to be judgmental about this.
What about you? What do you wish your friends and family said when you told them about your adoption? What do you wish you hadn't said?