Recently there has been a video that has gone viral titled “If you wouldn’t say it about a boob job…”
Basically it is a video saying that if you wouldn’t say something about a boob job, you shouldn’t say it to an adoptive parent. There has been a little bit of backlash towards the video from some adult adoptees, but I for one see the video for what it is: A funny, gimmicky way to bring to light the importance of adoption language.
I grew up around adoption so for me these “rules” weren’t exactly new once we became adoptive parents. I won’t say I was perfect and haven’t said anything stupid in my life, but I have been more aware than most about what you should and shouldn’t say when it comes to these circumstances. Mostly it comes down to ignorance. A lot of people just are not surrounded or familiar with adoption so they do not know any better. That is why I liked the video, it promotes education.
For the most part we have not encountered too many instances where people have said the wrong thing. Overall the response to Muppet has been extremely positive. However people aren’t perfect. The biggest offender is when people ask about Muppet’s “Mom”. They are almost always referring to A and that hurts. By asking about A in this manner it makes me feel like I will never be Muppet’s “real” mom. That I am always going to be the pretender or stand in.
This isn’t the case though, and I know it. I AM Muppet’s real mom. I always will be. This in no way diminishes A’s role in her life, she created this little creature. That is not a little or insignificant thing. But despite that she chose me to be Muppet’s mom. Now I have no problem with people mentioning A. She is and always will be a huge part of our life. The correct way to mention her though is to call her Muppet’s Birth-Mom. That is what she is.
I understand that people don’t automatically know this though. I know most people are not wanting to hurt or offend me, they just don’t know any better. For my family it has come very easy, not only because they are surrounded by adoption as well but also because they are concerned and aware of my feelings. J’s family however, has never been around adoption so this is a whole new experience for them. My mother-in-law is a wonderful, kind-hearted woman but she is one of the biggest offenders. I know by asking questions about A she is just trying to be involved and understand what we have gone through, but she always refers to her as Muppet’s mom. I’ve mentioned this to J and he has offered to talk to her about it but so far I’ve declined. I know that if she knew that her language has hurt me she would feel just awful and I really don’t want to cause an issue. So I’ve tried to correct her language by calling A “birth-mom” whenever she is mentioned. I’m hoping in time this will correct itself.
When Muppet was about 3 months old we started attending a Mommy and Me Music class. It goes without saying that she was the only non-caucasian person there. But people were awesome and very accepting. Towards the end of the class I struck up a conversation with another mom. We were getting along well and she finally got up the courage to ask the question that I’m sure had been plaguing her all class. “So, um, is she…? I mean is your husband…?”. Part of me wanted to wait for her to finish her question but she was clearly feeling embarrassed. A lot of people assume when they see Muppet and me together that my husband is black. I decided to put the poor girl out of her misery and told her Muppet was adopted. Relief flooded her face and she gained 10 respect points by asking me what was the proper way was to ask that question. I love when people try to learn from their mistakes.
I of course can’t speak for all adoptive parents but I personally have no problem when people ask me if Muppet is adopted. I mean, it isn’t like I don’t know. I would much rather people ask me than stare at us. My daughter is not a an object to be examined, but a person who deserves respect even though she is only 8 months old. And we are a family. We may be a little different from the typical family but that does not change the fact that we are human beings who have feelings. So I would encourage anyone who has someone who has adopted in their lives to really think about their words and how you would feel if someone said them about your child. I don’t ever want to make people feel bad if they happen to say one of the inappropriate boob job statements but I want to inform them on what it feels like to be on the other end of the statements. Adoption language is important people. Just as important as infertility language.
I’ve posted before about my struggles with the space. I’ve felt odd posting about motherhood here since it was a space so specifically dedicated to infertility.
But now I’m saying screw it.
The time I spend at home with Muppet is so rewarding but I admit, there are times that it is very lonely. I mean, I talk to a 8 month old all day. Although she is pretty much the most awesome person around, she is not much of a conversationalist yet. Plus I have things to say and this is where I want to say them.
I thought about starting a new blog, one dedicated to parenting an adopted child, but I really don’t want to start over. This is the place where I feel at home so I’m not going to do that. I will still be posting topics regarding infertility because lets face it: it will always be a part of my life. But I will also be posting about adoption and parenting. If this is not something you feel you can read, no hard feelings. Truly. I know when I was going through treatment the last thing I wanted to read about was another bloggers baby. But if you feel like sticking around I would love the company. I’m going to do better about catching up on all your blogs as well. I read blogs quite often but I’ve been horrible at commenting and I want to rectify that. I am rededicating myself to the blog world – I think I need it right now. So stay tuned if you like: there will be lots more to come.
P.S. I will probably be occasionally posting pictures of Muppet but if you would like to see more follow me on Instagram @trishp28. I will warn you though, I am that annoying parent that only posts pictures of their baby. But she is a really cute baby worth seeing.
P.P.S. Thank you all for your comments in my last post. I was feeling down in the dumps and you all helped a lot. Please always feel free to inform me about adoption bloggers. I’m eager to add more to my blogroll.
Since Muppet was born I’ve been frequenting parenting message boards. Sometimes they frustrate me with the judgemental “Mommy Wars” that take place (i.e. “Omg you moved your baby into their own room before 6 months?!?! You must be the worst mom out there!”). But there are times that they are very helpful and informative. Mostly I’m just looking to connect with other new moms the way that I connected with infertiles here.
The other place I’ve searched for connections is Adoption Forums. There really aren’t many that I’ve found that are extremely active but there is one in particular that I frequent. There is also a Facebook group that I joined specifically for Trans-racial Adoptions. I thought these places would bring me comfort and encouragement, but more often than not, I leave them with great feelings of anxiety and fear.
Both these places are designed for all aspects of adoption including those wanting to find out more about adoption, adoptive parents, and adult adoptees. And I will tell you, the latter is by far the most vocal of the groups. For me, adoption has always been about love. Enough love from the birth-mom to recognize that she is not enough for her child, love from the adoptive parents who only want to raise a child, regardless of genetics. I know it is not all peaches and cream. I am very aware of the issues my daughter may face as she grows. I know that someday she might come home crying because another kid teased her about having different skin than her parents. I know that she may deal with issues of abandonment and feeling unwanted. I’m prepared for this. I will do everything in my power to help her through this.
But these forums, they mess with my mind. SO many adult adoptees have such negative views on adoption. I’ve read posts on how a child is always better off with their biological parents, how it is selfish to place the burden of not knowing their own genetics on a child so that an adoptive parent doesn’t have to deal with the burden on not having children, how ignorant it is for a white adoptive parent to assume that they can raise a child of another race even if they try to keep the child’s heritage part of their life, and so many more.
It gets to me. Am I inadvertently damaging my child just because I adopted her?
My head knows better. I know that Muppet’s life is better than it would have been if she had not been adopted. There is a reason that A chose adoption, to give this little girl something that she herself couldn’t give. In my heart I believe that the love that Muppet receives can make up for lost genetic link. I want to believe that I can honor her heritage and raise her to be a strong, proud black woman even though I will never fully understand that part of her life.
But there is still the part of my heart that is so scared that one day all these negative words I’m reading from adult adoptees will be coming from the sweet little girl that I cherish so much.
So how do I deal with these emotions? I know the smart thing would probably be to stop going to these forums, but part of me thinks it is wise for me to be aware of these people and their opinions. I want to be informed of all the possible issues that may arise in our future, but these posts upset me so much. I just want to know that I’m doing the right thing by my little girl.