Placed – Couldn’t have said it better myself…#placed
Placed – Couldn’t have said it better myself…#placed
I spend a lot of time coming up with answers to ridiculous questions from strangers about our trans-racial family. Can they speak English? They must be really smart! (Yes, these things really happened). I also spend a lot of time telling people what NOT to say when they see a family built by adoption. Well, I’m in a good mood this week so I’m going to give you some positive advice on what you CAN say to a family that is built through adoption!
1. Make sure they are really adopted before you say something dumb.
Just because the kids don’t look like the parents doesn’t mean they are adopted. You need to figure this out. It’s ok to simply say, “Is she adopted?” but I always appreciate when people follow it up with why they are really asking, “My niece is adopted too, I’m so happy she’s in our family.” Unfortunately a lot of people have crappy assumptions about how an adoptive family is made and some of us (pointing finger at myself) have heard enough garbage that they are quick to assume the worst. So show us you mean well right out of the gate!
2. Where is he adopted from?
This really is an okay question. I’d rather someone ask then assume. I have Korean children. I get a lot of “Did you have to go to China to pick her up?” Ummmm, nope, because she’s never been to China! Again though, always nice to follow up with, “Korea, awesome! I have a friend who adopted a little boy from Guatemala and …..” Nice to see your perspective.
3. I’ve always wanted to adopt but have no idea how to start the process- who helped you?
Adoptive parents want other people to adopt. This isn’t a secret club we’d like to be exclusive about. Once we know you are likeminded we are excited to chat with you about it! Please try to keep negative adoption remarks to yourself. Save those for a private adult conversation where you can express your concerns.
4. How did you decide to adopt?
This is a long conversation but it’s definitely an okay question. This might be for a later date, or a time without children, or an email conversation, but it’s okay to ask!
Most important, be genuine and nice. Don’t say anything you think could be construed in an ugly way. I often hear, “what a beautiful and lovely family you have.” That’s enough. I know you mean that you see my kids are adopted and you think it’s great- so do we.
Domestic adoption or international? Open or closed adoption? There are many questions you need to ask–and answer for yourself–before you can begin the adoption process. Your first task is to consider the kind of an adoption you want and where you want to adopt from.
After you have decided on domestic or international adoption, find the right adoption professional. This individual will be able to guide you the rest of the way. Use word-of-mouth references, google searches and Better Business Bureau ratings as a guide. Having a knowledgeable and trustworthy adoption professional will make a big difference in your adoption journey.
Join local adoption support groups, as well as online groups. Look for groups in your area through Adoptive Families magazine, Facebook, twitter and adoption.com. Support cannot come too soon. Adoptive parents who have been in your shoes will offer you an enormous amount of emotional support, as well as knowledge and education. These parents have been through the same process and can give you advice on exactly what to expect.
While you should use support groups to educate yourself on all things adoption, be sure that you are also reading. Visit information clearinghouses, such as adoption.com and the Donaldson Institute, for the lastest adoption research. Adopting from abroad? Learn about the country, culture and language of your expected child. Adopting from the U.S.? Educate yourself on open adoption, relationships with birth parents and infant care. Be as prepared as possible for the arrival of your new addition.
Keep in mind that the process can take a long time. But after this period of waiting, you will be together as a family forever.
The media, as well as your friends, enjoy sensationalism. Every time you hear about an adoption story in the news, it is bad news. However, the vast majority of adoptive families are typical. And there is nothing sensational about a typical family leading a typical life. Same household issues, same behaviors, same love. So forget the hype.
Words have meaning, especially in the world of adoption. Be careful with your terminology because it can be demeaning–even if you do not mean for it to be. For example, use “expectant parent” instead of “birth parent” when speaking about a parent who has not relinquished a child. A “birth parent” is only someone who has terminated rights already. Don’t say that a woman “gave up” her child, but rather that she “made an adoption plan” for the child.
Yes, adoption is expensive, but you must think of the investment. People who adopt are primarily not independently wealthy, but they make it work. While the average adoption cost is $30,000, there is a $13,000 tax credit refunded to you as soon as you finalize your adoption. That is almost half of your costs. Fundraising is common in the adoption world, and almost every adoptive couple fundraises to pay for their adoption. Home equity loans, employer benefits and other lines of credit also come in handy. Remember that you are not paying for a child; rather, your are paying for the process.
Somewhere along your adoption journey, domestic or international, someone will likely offer you a way to cut a corner. For example, they will suggest that you pay a little extra and receive a faster referral, or sign up with a particular agency and they will ensure that the expectant woman signs for the adoption. But don’t do it. Ever. Cutting corners in adoptions always leads to activity that is both immoral and likely illegal. Using an adoption professional you trust will safeguard you against morally questionable practices.
Adoption is something you will live everyday. Adoption means relationships with birth families and other cultures. Adoption will invade your child’s school life, friendships and romances. You will become seasoned at answering questions about your adoption and your relationship with your child.
The adoption process is complex, but it does not need to be scary. Trust your gut instincts, educate yourself and rely on support–even if you think you don’t need it. Relax and enjoy the process. The end result is the best gift of all.
Some of our favorite adoption posters…. add yours!
I know a lot of you are still dreaming of becoming parents but it’s never too soon to prepare for what life will be like once you bring your child home. In what may very well be a frantic rush of emotion, putting together cribs, notifying family and preparing yourself for life with another member of the family, there are a few things you should consider.
Are you adopting a newborn? Many families with newborns (adopted or not) try to limit the exposure of the newborn to other children (especially toddlers- who are prone to bring winter illnesses into the house). Make a plan now for who will be welcome and who should wait a few weeks to see the baby. Do you want your parents there but maybe your close friends to help out in another way? Many people will want to help you, so having a job for everyone will satisfy them until they can see the baby.
Do you have more tips? Add them below!
When we were singing up with our agency, they mentioned a new service called Parent Match that they had just joined. Parent Match allowed adoption agencies to match clients from all across the country and used technology that streamlined the matching process. They asked us if we wanted to be listed in it. We said yes.
We completed our home study in October and settled in for the wait. Just after Christmas, mere *weeks* later, the phone rang. Our son had just been born and the expectant mother’s agency found us through Parent Match. We jumped on a plane and closed the book on our last Christmas without a child to hold.
I still can’t believe we were matched so quickly and I know it would not have been possible if we had not chosen an agency signed up with Parent Match. I wanted to share our story to so you can see what is possible and for us is no longer a hope, but a reality.
If you haven’t already, ask your agency about Parent Match and how it can fit into your adoption plan.