Wednesday, September 3, 2014

10 things not to say to an adopted child

10 things not to say to an adopted child or around an adopted child. 

I know that people mean well, and that people are curious.  Please realize that the questions you ask or comments you make can be hurtful to the child from hard places.  Some of the things that are said to us take hours... days... weeks and sometimes years to build trust within our children from hard places.   

1) "Do you know how lucky you are?"

Ohhh!!! How this one brings up hard, hard issues!   
Really, the child that this is being said to has been ripped away from everything he/she has known.  They have been torn away sometimes from their birth mother and/or father, sometimes even their siblings.  International adopted kiddos have lost their "family" too.  Their best friends, every thing familiar to them... and have been given to these strangers who don't speak their language, who smell differently, who fix food differently, and who are trying to teach him/her new things and new ways to act. 
This doesn't sound very "lucky" to me!

We understand what you are saying, but the child does not understand how they are supposed to feel lucky when they have lost everything dear to them.

2) "You are so cute!!! I'm going to take you home with me!" 

Though some kids can handle adults who have fun with this statement, there are many cannot process this in the playful way it is intended.  This statement can be taken two ways...
It can cause the child to lapse into fear. Fear that they will be taken away from their family... again!!!! 
It can hurt the bonding process of the adoptive family and the child.  Bonding and trust are hard to build - and when the child thinks that some other family may take them and that person looks to be a lot more fun than the adoptive family  - this can seriously hurt the bonding process. 

3)  "Are they siblings?"
The first time Jorja and Jailyn heard someone ask me if they were "sisters" and I answered "no", (because I knew that the person was asking if they were biological sisters or not). The girls freaked out - interrupting and yelling at me that they ARE sisters!  
They knew all the facts, they knew that they weren't biological sisters.  
But, they also had bonded and they accept each other as their sister.  We were able to explain the situation to them and they were able to understand and now they answer people, "We are not biological but we are sisters!"
This question can really hurt the bonding and transition to a family when it is brought up over and over again.  

4)  "My kids act the same way!" or "He/She is acting like a normal 4 year old."
Though I understand that all kids have break downs, temper tantrums, can be overly stimulated and so much more... the ability to regulate themselves is completely different.  The reason for the meltdown, temper tantrum and whatever else actually stems from something much deeper than a child not getting a candy bar at the check out counter of the grocery store.   The adoptive parents and the adopted child are both trying to work on building trust with each other.  If an adoptive parent seems to be "giving in" to a child's attics - please understand that this is not what is happening.  Instead, they are trying to calmly and rationally build trust with their child and build compromise within their relationship.
We know that all parenting is hard, but please don't tell adoptive parents that everyone deals with the same issues.

5)  "What does your husband do?"  "How much did they cost?" 
Adoption fees are costly, there is no doubt about that!   But our children are precious and priceless!!! 
If you have a biological child, do you and everyone else complain about the cost of doctor appointments and hospitals?
We don't talk about adoption fee's either!  Unless we are in the middle of adoption, and everyone knows that we are strict with our budget and that we fundraise to pay for the adoption fee's - NOT to buy a child.

6)  "Do you miss your "real" mom?
I am their "real" mom!!! I clothe them, I feed them, I love them, I take care of them, I advocate for them!   We know what you mean, but really???   Do you say this to a child who has a stepmom?  No, you don't.
As a family we discuss our children's birth families.  Each child's story is different and we respect that.  Please help us by being respectful too.

7)  "Be good or you may be sent back"
Yes, we have had people say this to our child/ren.  Needless to say, I wasn't very calm when I overheard this come out of an adults mouth!!!
Please know that many children have already been told that by nannies, foster families, case workers... they do not need to hear this as they try to trust and bond with their adoptive family.

8)  "Didn't your real mom love you?"
Again, all of our children have different stories.  We all make decisions for different reasons.  Please do not judge my children's biological parents, especially when we do not have any documented information to even make an educated guess.
Our children cannot process that.  They have their own insecurities without having anyone question this for them!

9)  "Your new mom and dad are amazing people."
Really???  Sometimes our kiddos don't really think that!!  They get corrected, disciplined and made to eat their vegetables just like any kiddo.  They don't get everything they want ...and believe me, they don't always feel like we are amazing parents.

10)  "Aren't they over all of this yet?"
Though many of our kids had rough transitions, and some of our kiddo's have had easier transitions - none of our kids will get over their pain from their history.
Do you ask this of a mother or father who had to bury her child?
Our children have lost so many people who were dear to them.  They have lost their friends, their family, the only caregivers they have ever known.
We do not expect our children to get over the pain and grief.  We do help them through it.  We try to find every tool available to help them at the same time respecting their history and trying to help them to have a full future.

Thank you for taking the time to read over these requests.  
We truly appreciate it!  
Having a community to assist us is a major blessing! 

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