From the beginning of this process I have always said that I would be happy to answer any questions you may have about adoption. My goal is to help others with the process. I'm learning a lot as I go along. This post is not meant to hurt anyone's feelings…I'm trying to help you understand. And everything I'm telling you not to do, I'm sure I have done in the past, so please forgive me.
When someone comes to you and tells you that they are adopting, say "congratulations" or "that's wonderful" or "you guys will make great parents." I love to hear things like that. It is a very exciting and rewarding thing when you choose to adopt a child. We are going to be getting a baby, much like someone who is pregnant, it will just take us a little longer, and I won't have any crazy pregnancy cravings.
In my efforts to educate you, I would like to give you a few phrases that you should not say to a couple who is adopting or has an adopted child (note: a few of these items came from a sermon by Dr. David Platt from The Church at Brook Hills in Birmingham Alabama. He and his wife, Heather, adopted a child from Kazakhstan in 2007. If you wish to listen to the entire sermon please visit http://www.brookhills.org/. The sermon is titled "Freed as Sons" and he preached it on Dec. 21, 2008. You may download an audio clip of the sermon).
1. "Do you plan to have children of your own?" Um. Yes. We are adopting a child that will be OURS. When I bring that little boy or girl home with me, he/she is mine. So yes, we will have a child of our own.
2. "Why are you adopting?" This is a question that my sister can ask me, but if I don't know you that well, don't ask me why I am adopting. My answer to this question is that "Jace and I have always wanted children" and I leave it at that. Also, don't ask me "why do you want kids?" Yes, I was actually asked this question earlier this week. I can't explain the desire I have to have a child of my own. I guess if you've ever actually had that desire you can understand, otherwise, just keep quiet.
3. "We like the idea of adoption and hope to do that one day, but first we would like to have a child of our own." Now this one, I may have said before or at least I know thought it. As David Platt mentions in his sermon, we have this idea that adoption is somehow a consolation prize for those who cannot have children. It is not. There is no difference between an adopted child and a biological child. The difference lies in the process by which they become your child, but he/she is your child, no matter which process you take.
4. "Have you ever met your adopted child's real mother?" or "Will you be able to meet your adopted child's real mother?" This is a touchy subject. Any child I adopt will be MY child and I will be his/her REAL mother. Jace will be his/her REAL father. By saying this you are kinda implying that somehow I'm not qualified to be called "real" because I did not give birth to the child. That is not true. I am going to be a REAL mother!
5. "Are you planning to teach your adopted child about his/her family cultural heritage?" Yes. My child will know all about his/her family heritage. My child will hang out with Meme, Big Al, Nan, and Pops. He/She will get to spend lots of time hearing stories from Mamaw, Mama Ginny and Abbah. Oh the hours he/she will spend playing with all the cousins, Alyssa, Ana, Mitch and Kat. This poor kid will have more family heritage than he/she knows what to do with. We will also teach our child about cultural food, such as crawfish, jambalaya, gumbo, and the many different ways to fix a hamburger. They will get to hear all about the cultural literature, such as "But No Elephants" (my favorite book as a child). If you ask this question meaning will I teach my child about the country they were born in, the answer is no. This is a personal decision. I plan to raise this child just like I would if he/she were my biological child. As David Platt mentions, this question implies that our child's heritage is somewhere other than with us. This is just not true.
6. "I knew someone else who could not have children, and shortly after they adopted, they were able to have a biological child." I'm really happy for the person you are referring to here, but that may not be the case for us. You don't know our situation. I'm not saying that it is impossible for us to have children, and one day we may very well have a biological child. I don't know. I can't tell you what God has in store for us next. By saying this, I think you are trying to give us hope, but we don't need that. We are adopting. We are going to go get our child, and no matter what happens in the future, this kid will always be my first child.
If you have said one of these things in the past, no big deal. I did not post this to try to hurt anyone's feelings. This is a learning process for all of us. I know I have made some of these same mistakes before with others who have adopted. Again, I would like to encourage anyone interested in adoption to listen to David Platt's sermon "Freed as Sons."