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On Trying-Not-To-Be a Defensive, Over-Sensitive Adoptive Mom

May 23, 2011

Disclaimer: I wrote this a few months ago and it has been sitting in my draft list for a long time. I keep debating posting it but D gave me the go-ahead. I worry two things about what I am saying here:

1) That friends or family will worry that they have said something hurtful or offensive. You haven’t so don’t worry about it. Most of the comments we get are from acquaintances that do not know us well.

2) That adoptive parents will jump on me for not defending my kids or protecting their story. What I am saying is that I think there is a way to be kind and gracious and adequately protective at the same time.

That said…

The love I felt for my kids before we even knew who they were or how long they would be with us was kind of unreal. God laid adoption on my heart so strongly, I could barely think about anything else. I actually missed them before I even knew them. That doesn’t even make sense but, really, that is what I was feeling at the time.

I was also highly worried about people’s reactions to our family. I would run crazy scenarios through my head where a random person would walk up to us in Target (in my mind someone who looked like Larry the Cable Guy or Dog the Bounty Hunter’s wife), say something horribly racist and I would just lose it on them in defense of my kids. This has never happened in real-life. People have said racist things but not in a malicious, hateful way. They have been said in an  ignorant way and I’ve handled it differently with different people but not once have I yelled at them. People have also said thoughtless things to us about adoption either implying that we love our kids less because they are not “ours” or implying that we would only be “real parents” once we had one of our “own.” Whether or not they understand that their comments come with these implications, I’m not sure. But the comments do reveal that the myth of “blood being thicker than water” still reigns true in some people’s minds and hearts.  But I’m not any less guilty of talking before I speak than anyone else.

In the past couple of months, I’ve been asked several times when we are going to have “our own” by random people and it makes me cringe. Why? Because I don’t know if the person is just being curious or if they want to know when we plan to legitimate ourselves as parents. The benefit of the doubt says that they are just curious. I also get curious and I’m sure I’ve asked someone an awkward question before.

In the last few years, I’ve submersed myself in adoption culture. I’ve learned the “right” way to say things. I’ve learned about attachment and open adoption and parenting adopted kids. I read about what my kids may experience as they grow-up in a trans-racial family. I worry about where to get their hair cut. I worry about people labeling them because they were in foster care. This is how my brain works now because once we decided to adopt I found out as much as I could.

I read on another blog (which I have forgotten and wish I hadn’t because I cannot give credit where credit is due) that it was unfair of us as adoptive parents to hold others accountable to a level of knowledge we did not have prior to adopting. What to us may seem like common knowledge is not to those outside of adoption culture.  And sometimes we (adoptive parents) just sound angry and defensive and it doesn’t make adoption appealing.

There are times I’m hurt and offended and frustrated and wishing to be more understood. I get nervous about my kids getting labeled or treated differently.  Sometimes I find myself walking into situations defensive before I even have a good reason to be and I’m asking God to help me with that and asking Him to use our family to show others that adoption is not scary or “Plan B” so that more may consider it as they decide how to grow their family.

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8 Comments leave one →
  1. May 24, 2011 9:16 am

    Really humble post, K. This is a facet of adoption/foster care that hasn’t really been on my radar, probably because we’re not doing it yet. But it’s good to think about.

  2. May 24, 2011 12:16 pm

    Great post! Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  3. adicken permalink
    May 24, 2011 2:54 pm

    I love this post! I can honeslty say that I’ve been overly defensive about language that I’m sure I used before I started the foster/adopt journey. Would you mind if I used this post and made you a “Guest Blogger” on my site? You said it so beautifully that I wouldn’t want to change a word of it. I may actually use at a way to apologize to people I may have accidentally snapped at – LOL. Please let me know if that is okay. (adventuresinfosterland.com)

  4. May 24, 2011 4:37 pm

    Good post! You have a lot of insight and I love to hear your perspective on deep issues like this. That’s a really good point about not expecting people outside of the adoptive community to have the same level of knowledge as an adoptive parent. I’m trying to figure out when I can gently educate someone and when I should keep my mouth shut. I’d love to know what resources/books you might recommend for trans-racial family issues if/when that affects our family.

  5. Betsy permalink
    May 24, 2011 6:07 pm

    I love and miss the foster children I do not have yet (I thought I was weird but I guess not!) 🙂

  6. June 4, 2011 1:45 am

    I really appreciated your post. As someone who wants to adopt in the future (when I am married and finished school) I will sometimes talk about my desire to adopt with others, the response is a lot along the lines of what you shared. I like hearing your heart on this issue, it is great to learn from your perspective and experience.

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