It’s my final post for National Adoption Month today! Last night I was hanging out trying to decide what I wanted to write about and it hit me I would love to talk about a few of my pet peeves, personally, as an adoptive parent. Not all adoptive parents will feel the same way as I do(and I actually mention that!) but I did want to share a few of the things I wish other people would do differently with me.
That turned into sort of a rant, and one I considered not even sharing, but maybe this will help you emphasize a little better with your friends and family who are adoptive families.
Please, get that you don’t understand even if you once worked with a child on the spectrum, or even because you have a child with ADHD, because trauma adds an entire extra layer. Guys, I appreciate the love and advice I get. I know a lot of the people I know have children with special needs and they just want to offer help. Except…my children’s special needs are different than yours. I’m sorry if that comes out wrong, but it’s the simple truth. We are dealing with special needs but we also have trauma in their background. Trauma complicates things and adds so much more to the equation. I respect what you have your experiences and wish to share them with me, but please understand-it’s very different.
Your friends aunts adoption is not mine. My husband and I don’t even see eye to eye on everything. I find a lot of people who think because one person had an experience within their adoption, it’s a common thing. Every adoption is different! We can find support within each other and still have completely different experiences.
Stop telling me I’m a good person for loving my kids. I love my children. I chose my children. I am not special for that. I appreciate the kind and supportive words, but instead of telling me you could never do it and how awesome we are for choosing this life, tell me I am a good mom for other reasons. (I do appreciate the compliment in general)
Don’t assume you know how I feel about any birth family or situations that put these children into our lives. We got very lucky with our oldest two children and have a magnificent relationship with many members of their family. My younger two adopted children have left me with a different experience with their birth family, but I still have limited negative emotions about their birth mom. Every situation is different, so not all people feel my way, but please, please, please, don’t think my immediate response is anger and hatred.
Recognize our family as real-teach your children about our families. I think the most appropriate thing I’ve ever written was on my Facebook:
“Teach your kids about foster care. Tell them about adoption. Talk them about blended families and non nuclear families and single parent homes. That not all members of one family always look the same or share the same skin color. Teach your children about grandparents raising their grandkids and aunts and uncles raising nephews and nieces. Teach them not everyone has a mom and dad, not everyone knows their mom and dad, and some of their friends have more than one mom and dad.
Teach your children the only thing that makes a family is the belief that it is a family. That love is what creates a home and that no two homes look alike and blood and genetics are sometimes just an added bonus in case someone needs a kidney.
And, for goodness sake, if your child ever questions, belittles or berates another’s family in front of you or you’re told about it? Correct them. Encourage them to learn more. Teach them to accept.
Teach your kids that so I can feel safe mine will never have a classmate question the validity of their family.“
I’m not mom and that’s OKAY. My older daughter does not call me mom. She has a bio mother she is very close to, whom(as mentioned above) I know and enjoy. Don’t correct her when she calls me Lauren. It’s who I am to her and I am totally comfortable with that decision on her part. Your comfort with it doesn’t matter, your respect of it does.
Lose the “all you need is to love them” phrases. And let me cry when I need to cry. For real. Love is what makes our family, but somedays it’s really hard to parent. In any way, to be completely honest. I wrestle a lot with becoming “that mom” and if I’m trusting you enough to be honest about my struggles, please just listen to me.
I feel the need to apologize for my long winded complaint here, but I also think it’s important we equip and love those who are adoptive parents in ways that truly help them. Knowing what to not say or do may help you approach it with more tact, care, and understanding.
I pray you learned something from my month long talking about foster care, adoption, and the works. If you have any questions, please feel free to ask! Onward to all the holiday posts…it’s the most wonderful time of the year!