People Need to Change How They Talk About Adoption

Ok, so…we all know I don’t have children.

I enjoy the freedom my child-free existence gives me.  I enjoy it tremendously. I love having no schedule, sleeping in, and booking plane tickets on a whim.  My life, right now, without kids,  is quite frankly… delicious.

Seriously.

That being said, I’m in my 30’s, so at this point, as a child-free woman, I’ve gotten really good at dodging the never ending questions about my age and fertility, to the point that they generally don’t bother me much anymore.

I do however, LOVE other people’s children.

I’m convinced my niece is the coolest kid ever.  All of my friends have kids, and all of those kids are freaking amazing, just like their parents are.  I genuinely get excited when someone posts a video of their kid walking, or sleeping, or babbling.  I love it all.

And though I relish my child-free existence, I’m beginning to slowly warm towards the idea of starting and having a family (mainly because I’ve finally met someone I would want to raise a family with…not that you can’t do it alone). And when I say “slowly warming,” I mean like  “melting a glacier with a lighter” type slow.  I’m not quite there yet.

I’m still a while away from wanting to add “Mom” to the long list of words people hurl at me in irritation.  But I’m getting there.

And while I’m getting “there” I’ve turned to asking people who have families for their insight.  I talk to my male and female  friends about their experiences and regrets.  Is parenthood really so great? Would they do it all again? I want it all…the nitty gritty.  So I can prepare myself for the inevitable emotional slaughter that is parenthood, as best I can.

But many of these conversations inevitably come back to my age.  I get subtle warnings about the biological clock tick-tocking away. Reminders about how, after 35, my ovaries might literally dissolve into dust in my body.

And that’s when I say, “Actually,  if I can’t have my own, I don’t think there’s a strict age limit on adoptions, so I’ll be okay.”

And that’s when people get stupid. Just…so…stupid.

There’s usually a pause, a polite smile, followed by some sort of mind numbing comment about how it takes a “special” type of person to raise someone else’s kid. This comment is usually followed by reminders and questions similar to these ones:

  1.  How are you going to know about their mental health?  Lots of adopted kids have issues, you know.
  2. Can you not have your own children? You’ll never really love a kid like you’ll love your own.
  3. Aren’t you going to feel rejected when the kid starts looking for his or her birth parents?
  4. What if your kid turns out to be some sort of serial killer? Have you thought about that?
  5. <Insert anecdote about a family they know who is struggling with their adopted child>

And the list goes on and on…

So now, here’s the thing.

The questions, while they bother me, don’t hurt me… because I’m not an adoptive parent.  But many of my friends are.  And several other incredibly well adjusted friends of mine, were adopted children themselves.

And as I’m being inundated with insufferable questions that unintentionally diminish both the lovability and value of children up for adoption, all I can think about is…why is this line of questioning even okay?

Seriously…why do people think it’s okay?  Because…it’s not.

If you think these types of questions and comments are appropriate, I want you to imagine what it felt like or what it will feel like when you or your partner gets pregnant. I want you to now imagine telling one of your friends your great news.  That you’re pregnant. And about to have a baby.

And I want you to imagine them giving you a polite smile, and then saying, “That’s so brave of you, your life is going to get so hard.” I want you to imagine that they ask you questions like:

  1. Oh, man…aren’t you worried about what this kid is going to do to your body or relationship?
  2. What if the kid has learning disabilities or mental disorders?
  3. Aren’t you concerned he or she is going to grow up and resent you like you resent your parents?
  4. What if you don’t bond with the baby?  Aren’t you worried about post-partum depression?
  5. Have you read any of those articles about parents who wish they had never had children?

In fact, most people with biological children HAVE to imagine the above situation playing out, because it just honestly never happens.  Whereas parents with adopted children deal with questions and judgments like these all the freaking time. For like…ever.

It’s not okay.  So stop.

Is it okay for these questions to come up in your head? Sure. I certainly wonder about all of these things in regards to adopted and biological children. Starting a family is a crazy leap of faith no matter how you do it. But it’s the same leap.

And if you struggle with things to say to someone who is considering adoption, here’s a life hack: just think about what you’d say to anyone who was going to have a child. And proceed from there.  Offer to throw them a baby shower…share experiences you’ve had with parenthood…smoke a cigar with them…it’s not difficult.

So my point:  no one gets off easy when it comes to kids and family.  That’s why compassion and mindfulness is needed no matter how someone decides to “do” the whole family thing.

So people without kids:  if you really think you need to expel a human out of your vagina in order to fully love it, you should really think about your intentions behind your family:  do you want to be a parent?  Or do you want to have your own children?  Because there is a very distinct difference.

And people with kids: if you think there is a difference between the love you feel for your child, and the love an adopted parent feels, that’s fine.  Just stop talking about it.   And if you feel the need to bring it up around adopted parents…there is something very broken in your definition of parenthood and love.

Now… if you’ll excuse me… I’ve got five hours of Youtube to catch up on before I sleep-in until noon.

I’m really gonna be a great mom one day.

 

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