Thursday, May 13, 2010

10 Things APs Shouldn't Say

From Babble, a follow-up to their story, 10 Things Not to Say to APs, comes this one, 10 Things APs Shouldn't Say (I'm just listing -- there's commentary under each one at Babble, so go there to read it all!):
1.  “This is how Susie became available for adoption.”
2.  “Don’t tell my kids, but [insert facts about your child’s origins here].”
3.  “Race doesn’t matter. When we look at Kyle, we just see our son; we don’t see White/Black/Hispanic/Asian.”
4.   “We’re Americans. Jenna may have been born in China, but she’s American now, and that’s good enough for us. We don’t really worry about all of that cultural stuff.”
5.   “We used to celebrate our Irish background before the kids came along, but now we feel like we really have to focus on Ethiopia.”
6.   Negative comments about your child’s birth family.
7.   Invented facts about your child’s birth family.
8.  “Asians are good at music, so we weren’t surprised when Jin’s violin teacher told us he could be a real prodigy.”
9.   Disparaging comments about your child’s race or any other race.
10. “This is my adopted daughter, Grace.”
I've heard far worse -- what would you add to the list?


Judy said...

"Did you tell your son he's adopted?" This was said by an intake worker at a stat care facility. Please note that our son is Asian and we're Caucasian. Ummm . . . DUH!!

But that's not the worst thing. The worst is that we found out from her that she HADN'T told her daughter she was adopted and her daughter was 7 years old at the time. Sheesh!!

Anonymous said...

Yeah-what my AM said to me growing up and as an adult:
"If we get a divorce, it's all YOUR fault, because all we do is fight over you"
Wearing a halter top she bought for me at 15-"you look like a slut"
When I was beggining my ninth month of pregnancy in my 20's-"I'll be nice to you until the baby is born but then I am not going to be anymore"
"I haaaate you"
Nuff said? AP's! Please don't abuse the kids living with you-they pick your retiremnt home!

Anonymous said...

Again, wrong approach.

It shouldn't be "xx Things APs Shouldn't Say."

It should be "Common statements to discuss with your child." And these statements should be related to just adoptions. And these statements aren't just for adopted children.

Guess what, kids are going to hear all sorts of potentially offensive statements. It's more important to teach them the context in which those statements were made.

But what's the point, the attitude on here is one of sheltering and over-compensation.

harriet glynn said...

For sure.

I am now starting to wonder about what to say to other kids, who are starting to ask me about him. A little girl, 5, asked me where his real parents lived. I just said: we are his "real parents," but his "birth parents" live in another town. That was the end of it. She didn't need anymore info. But now I'm wondering about the next questions....

Mei Ling said...

"And these statements aren't just for adopted children."

So, what other situations would these be applied in?

No snark here on my end, I'm asking honestly. What other circumstances can you bring to mind?

Tina said...

@ Mei Ling

In my case at least I have a "step" daughter as well as our "adopted" son. (Iput those in quotes because I do not refer to them that way in normal conversation and NEVER would in fromt of them) Our daughter is not adopted but knows her brother is - she also has classmates that are. We include her in discussions about adoption issues because they are issues that come up around her and that she is involved in - although in a different way than our son.
I think even children with no adopted siblings or family members should be exposed to adoption topics so they hopefully will be more sensitive and supportive of adoptees they encounter during their lives.

Anonymous said...

Harriet, I strongly disagree with your remark, "we are his real parents" because quite simply you aren't. You are mixing up the child who asked this question to. I don't understand why you adoptive parents always confuse this issue. You know what was meant by that question-and real parents does mean those the adopted child came from and who according to nature the adopted child should be living with. Hell, a five year old knew that. If the adopted child is an orphan the child still has real parents as in biological and they should never be forgotten. You adoptive parents have to start accepting you aren't the real parents, you are the substitute ones and stop using your bitterness to change reality. This is not good for adoptees. Adopted children are who they are and look how they look because of DNA and I am tired of that fact being ignored.

M said...

Anonymous, I totally agree with the fact that birth/first/biological parents shouldn't be diminished or forgotten. And I think it is important for adopted children to feel comfortable discussing biological parents, for a variety of reasons.

However, especially for young children, it's important to acknowledge and reassure that adoptive families are real families. No more real than biological families, but real nonetheless. Young children need to know that they are being cared for and nurtured - and if they are living with adoptive parents, they need to be reassured that these parents are real and caring for them.

Mei Ling said...

[Harriet, I strongly disagree with your remark, "we are his real parents" because quite simply you aren't.]

Respectively, Anon, I disagree. I disagree in the sense that this shouldn't be a contest, and that your remark will just offend the adoptive parent who felt the need to comment. I know you didn't mean it that way, and I know you're just trying to point out that the Chinese parents are real, too, but the message didn't need to be conveyed like that.

If we can safely assume (within reason) that the biological parents are still alive, still breathing, still living through life, albeit on the opposite point of the globe - then yes, they are real in their own respective roles. Distance does not erase this. If they are existing, right now, somewhere in China, then they ARE real.

But so are the adoptive parents. When someone states a set of parents is more "real" than the other, this often gets turned into a contest and the defenses go up.

The adoptive parents are real because they are raising the child - like any "real" parent does.

The biological parents are real because they are alive and physically existing, and possibly care for their child as well. They just happen to be in China. But they are very, very real.

Anonymous said...

My daughter's adoptive mother told her that she changed her name because she didn't want her to get teased about it at school. It made me feel very small that she said that to her. I think it's important to speak with love and respect when speaking about the mother whose child you are raising.

Anonymous said...

Malinda-could you please delete the first anonymous comment. It pertains to me, but I do not want it visable. Sorry and ty.

The Improper Adoptee said...

Malinda-I wrote the last Anon comment on here-I was clicking on the buttons to sign in to post that comment and a wrong key was hit and it ended up being sent as Anon-I never comment as as Anon LoL. Again sorry and ty.

Sharie said...

I agree with Mei Ling. When my 5-year-old asked, "My real parents live in China?" I said jokingly, "What am I a fake parent?" She giggled and said "No!" I said, "Your parents in China are real because they brought you into the world, without them you wouldn't be here, but I am also real because I love you and take care of you. So you have 3 real parents."
She loved this - and it is much easier for her when her friends ask about her real parents - she now says she has 3 - her first parents in China and me.

Wendy said...

To Anon:

I think we're splitting hairs here. When adoptive parents get comments like these, we usually see them as teachable moments where we can educate people unfamiliar with adoption. In the situation here, I think Harriet handled the question well given the child's age and the fact that she made the comment in front of Harriet's own young son. Harriet respected her son while still answering the youngster's question. At that point, it's up to that other child's parents to get into any further discussions with her if they come up because we are talking about issues that are pretty developmentally heady for a five year old.

As for your other comments, I am my daughters real mother. I nurture them, care for them, provide guidance for them, and hopefully provide the tools so that they can grow into compassionate, mature young women (one already has). There is nothing artificial about any of that parenting. Likewise, my daughters' birthmothers are their real moms. They carried our daughters for nine months, went through the pain of labor and delivery, made the painful decision to place them for adoption, and share their DNA. They are always in the forefront of my mind and have my utmost respect. I don't have an ounce of bitterness about being my girls' other mother. I am acutely aware that they have two mothers (myself and their birthmoms), who are equally important, but who hold very distinct roles in their lives.

My eldest daughter is 18. We have always talked openly about her birthmother, and she has written about her quite openly in school assignments. We finally saw pictures of her birthmom last year for the first time. My 18 year old has her mother's thick black hair, pouting lips, long, elegant fingers. They could be twins. It was a profoundly moving experience to see the woman who gave my daughter life and who so obviously shares so many physical characteristics.

After seeing those photos, I asked my daughter, "What did it feel like to see your mom for the first time?" She responded, "It was cool to see my mom and find out who I look like finally...but you're my mommy." At the same time, she took a picture of the photo to keep on her cell phone and show her friends. She's proud of both her mothers and the roles we play(ed) in her life.

My daughters have two mothers. I am completely at peace with that, and I never for a day forget that fact; I'm pretty sure my daughter feels the same way, too.