Four things adoptive families might have in common

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My brother is adopted.  Three of my cousins are adopted.  It was a normal part of “how you got kids” when I was growing up.  I got married at the tender age of 42 and the fertility ship had sailed.  I have a biological daughter, but when the question of adding more kids to our family came up, my husband and I decided adoption was the answer. Here are four things parents who have come to parenthood through adoption might relate to.

You know you’re an adoptive parent when you have an arsenal of canned responses to any question or comment that resembles the following:

“…are they all yours are they brothers I mean real brothers what happened to their real mother how much did they cost can’t you have any of your own do they know they’re adopted are you afraid they’ll turn out to be crazy my friend’s sister adopted from Russia and that kid was cuh-ray-zee we adopted a dog so I totally get what you’re going through now that you’re adopted you’ll get pregnant they’re so lucky…”

Your mileage will vary based on your mood, time of the month, how much caffeine or chocolate you've consumed and your perception of the question-asker’s motives. Someone genuinely interested in adoption is probably going to get a different response than straight up nosy old biddy in the pet food aisle.

You know you’re an adoptive parent when you spend the night before Mother’s Day quietly celebrating another woman who is the reason your kids call you mommy. 

You might have an open adoption.  You might know nothing about the woman who chose life for your child.  You spend time before church, brunch or opening presents made from pipe cleaners and elbow macaroni thinking about a woman who made sacrifices so you could be a mom. You might know her name, her face or her Twitter handle (although I think the Twitter thing would be awkward.)  You might know nothing, zip, zero.  Regardless, this woman holds a special place in your heart and you think about her every Mother’s Day.

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You know you’re an adoptive parent if you dread school assignments that involve the “family tree”.

Adopted children may (or may not) want to include the genealogy of their birth families.  If they do, they’re singled out.  They might want to include this info but might not have it.  This assignment may conjure up hurt or feelings of loss and spark difficult conversations at home.

My kids were adopted when they were toddlers.  I don’t have baby pictures, and this makes “baby picture day” uncomfortable.  I don't know how old they were when they took their first steps or said their first words.  When the time comes to plot these kinds of milestones as a lesson on how to chart and graph, I'm not sure what we'll do.  We'll figure that out as we go along, I guess.

You know you’re an adoptive parent when quotes like this make you tear up:

Four things that adoptive families might have in common|Ripped Jeans and Bifocals

And if that doesn’t give you at least a little tear, you must be a card-carrying member of the Tin Woodsman “I don’t have a heart” club.

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Four things that adoptive families might have in common|Ripped Jeans and Bifocals

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  1. Jill, my daughter is adopted. She is from China, and I am a blue-eyed white ‘girl’, so anyone can see that she is not my biological child. She is now a teenager, but when she was little people would constantly tell me how lucky she was, and I would wonder if she really was, no family is perfect, but ours was a mess, and since broken apart. That being said, I have never doubted that I am the lucky one!

  2. Thanks for sharing this! I can’t believe people don’t realise how prying they can be with adoptive parents. I love what you wrote about silently celebrating the biological mother.

  3. I think families that adopt are a special kind of family. So loving, and giving. I have two friends of mine that have placed babies for adoption, and a few others who have adopted. It’s a beautiful thing! Why do people have to be so nosy though?? 🙂

    1. Ah…the nosy bodies. I have my days when I can deal with intrusiveness okay and then some days…well, I’m just not as graceful about it. Thank you for reading!

  4. I am adopted and will never forget the questions from other kids at school. I remember one time being told that my mother didn’t want me. My response was “Well, your parents are stuck with you, at least mine picked me!” Never let your boys feel shameful or a need to hide that they are adopted. That made my childhood horrible for me. Knowing my parents may not have been able to have me, but they picked me gave me so much confidence! As for class projects that would not work out with being adopted, most teachers are prepared to work with you. My parents would start every year talking to my new teacher and seeing what kind of projects may come up that year and together they would figure out something before the project came up. Hope that helps.

    1. I do plan to lean forward and let my kids’ teachers know the scoop. I think to raise their level of understanding about something that might be potentially uncomfortable for my kids is half the battle. I don’t mind having the conversations the family tree project will spark…they are conversations that need to be had but I think what bugs me the most is that school curriculum will force the timing of those chats regardless of whether we’re ready.
      Thanks for visiting my blog! Off to check out Goofball Mommy!

  5. Wow, can I ever relate. Especially the part about not having baby pictures or knowing the milestones. We adopted a 13 year old girl and there’s a lot we don’t know, like if her children look like she did as a baby. When people say she’s so lucky, I tell them I’m the lucky one, because I have her.

  6. It’s crazy to me the things people will ask others. Then say they were just curious and not get that they are rude. While I don’t get any of the adoptive questions, I’ll share a crazy question I get a lot “Was he an accident?” people ask of my son who was born close in age to his brother. I just love that one.

    1. Was he an accident??? That’s crazy!!!! People are so funny…they’re quick to say “don’t be so sensitive” instead of “I guess that sounded kinda rude, sorry.”

  7. While I don’t get any adoptive questions, I do get weird questions all the time. I agree the motive behind the question determines the response. I don’t care if people ask me questions about Cerebral Palsy or Vitiligo as long as they are coming from a place called kindness.

  8. Those lines are all too familiar to me! I have and adopted aunt, I have an adopted sister and many of my relatives have adopted kids too. We have so much love to share! 😀

  9. YES. I am an adopted baby, and I cannot stand when people say “but what about your real mom your real family blah blah blah.” I have my real mom and my real family and I also met my bio mom at the age of 42 after having my only son at 40… and she’s still my bio mom.

  10. Oh how this speaks to my heart Jill!! What a a powerful journey that road of adoption must be… and I hate to think of anything but beautiful things when it comes to adoption. People can be so rude. I will just focus on the passion of these parents instead. I absolutely LOVE that quote. *Tears*

  11. I can only imagine the “family tree” assignments. :/ That’s tough. I think adoption is really great and I think family is family, whether by blood or not.

  12. What a great–and thoughtful–post. I was adopted at birth with my identical twins sister. Then a biological sister (of my adoptive parents) came 14 months later. I was told at 5 years old I was adopted, but I already intuitively knew I was. I don’t think it matters who your biological parents are–all kids (and adults) want to be loved unconditionally; they want to feel a sense of belonging.

  13. Hi, visiting you via the SITS girls. What a moving post! Perhaps you didn’t mean it that way, but it touched my heart. We had a pastor who adopted a boy (they had two girls of their own), and they were a wonderful family. Never let anyone make you feel like your boys are not yours, motherhood is a whole lot more than biology, it is nurturing them up, till they develop into the people they are meant to be. Wish you the best with your blogging and with your life.

  14. Thanks for sharing. People can be so rude sometimes. I can absolutely believe some of the off the wall questions you’ve had because I’ve experienced my fair share of rudeness from “curious” folks asking about my son who is on the autism spectrum. grr. In the words of Glennon Doyle Melton…”carry on warrior — life is brutiful.” Happy SITS Day!

  15. It really amazes me the nerve people have… and whenever I read about your challenges with having people respond to you in this way, it breaks my heart a little bit more.

    That last quote? WOW.

  16. What a lovely article 🙂
    We live ina pretty small place and my daughter is lucky enough to have some very aware and considerate teachers. FOr any MOther’s Day type crafts they always give her the option of making more than one so that both her birth mother and myself (her foster mother) can be included. <3

  17. Oh Jill, what a wonderful post! The part about celebrating Mother’s Day struck a nerve. It was my first Mother’s Day last May and I felt, well,a little less than a mom to be celebrated. And yes, I’ve thought about our son’s biological mom every now and then, imagining all the reasons why she had to give up her child.