Friday, February 24, 2012

The Adoption Conversation Conundrum

I came across this blog via my friend Ashley who urged me to check it out. I love it! But one particular post caught my attention and I thought it would be great to share here.

This adoptive mommy talks about the fact that it seems many adoptive parents are a bit "touchy" when it comes to questions about how they grew their family. I have to say I agree, because, one, I have heard a lot of adoptive parents complain about rude questions, comments, and inquiries, and two, I myself have had difficulty phrasing my questions to adoptive families as to not offend anyone but still seek information due to my own personal interest in adoption. I have yet to meet an adoptive family that hasn't been 100% kind, understanding, and generous with their information, but at the same time I think my own readers and friends and family might feel that they too are "walking on eggshells" when seeking information about our adoption.

I think this blogging mama says it perfectly. She does not mind the questions, and for the record, I encourage them! But it is really important to remember your audience. Are there little ears listening? What will they think about your questions? Are you phrasing them in a way that comes across as genuinely interested or rudely curious?

I think the best rule of thumb for these questions is, not in front of my kids. Of course they will know they were adopted, it won't be a secret, we will be proud of that and they will never be in the dark about any of it. But as this mom states in her blog, "It’s important to bear in mind that adoption stories are often complex, so what may seem like a benign questions could be digging in to serious and traumatic territory very quickly." Even though adoptive families are often very open about their stories and welcome questions, they don't always welcome them from strangers while wrestling their three kids in the ladies' restroom at Chick-Fil-A.

Josh and I are very open about our history. Our friends and family are aware that we had some serious trials in our marriage and we were very open about dealing with them and now ministering to other couples because of them. I have never told a well-meaning person who is asking about how we got through it, who our counselors were, or what resources I could offer them to "mind their own business." I see their heart and usually understand that either they or a close friend or family member is dealing with infidelity or a broken marriage and is desperately seeking helpful information on how Josh and I healed our relationship. I love, LOVE to tell the story of God's restoration and give hope to wives or couples that feel their situation is hopeless, just as I did at one time. But, there is a time and a place for conversations like that, and it is never in front of my children. Josh and I want to be the ones in control of how much information they get and how they get it. We do not plan on keeping it all a secret from our children. If you know us, you know we have a pretty wide "honesty is the best policy" rule when it comes to talking with our kids about anything. But we know them better than anyone, and we know what they can handle at what point in their lives. I certainly don't want even well-meaing people blurting out insensitive remarks in front of them and my having to go back and do damage control. The thing is, I have never once had anyone ask me a sensitive question about my marriage in front of my little ones, yet sensitive questions about adoption, infertility, and race in front of children seem to be fair game for a lot of people.

My point is this: most (if not all) adoptive families welcome and even encourage questions (especially us!)! But make sure you are asking them in the right situation. I really think it is a great idea to preface your questions with why you are asking, because it shows the family that you aren't just a busy body, but have a genuine interest in their family. Something like, "My good friends Josh and Karen are in the process of adopting a little one, may I ask what agency you used?" Or perhaps, "Your family is just beautiful. We ourselves are considering adoption, do you have any advice?" Or maybe just a simple, "Your daughter is adorable!" is enough to strike up a conversation!

We are always open to questions. This blog proves we are an open book, and is a great way to contact me with any questions you may have about our adoption, before and after the baby comes! But once our little one arrives, we might be a bit more careful about how and when we answer certain questions about his adoption. We never want our child to feel uncomfortable or left out somehow, and there are certain parts of his story that will be his and only his to share if and when he decides to do that. We will not be posting all the details of his background here or even discussing them with friends and family, because however much or little he wants the world to know about where he came from will be for him to decide when he's old enough.

I think it is awesome how one family adopting can lead to another family adopting and so on! I think the openness of adoptive families is a huge part of that adoption domino effect that seems to happen everywhere I look! It takes one family to step up and take the leap, which plants a seed in another family's hearts, and gives yet another family the courage to finally go for it. I think it is so important for adoptive families to be open with how God led them down that road and how He provided during the process, because adoption is a ministry. One of God's most favorite ministries, if I can go so far as to say that! He wants us to talk about how He has worked in our lives! It is just important to remember your audience (little ears!), be mindful of how you phrase your questions, and do it in an appropriate manner, just as you would any other sensitive situation.

Have you ever been in a situation where you wanted to ask a question about adoption but didn't know how to phrase it? Have you ever been on the other side of that and gotten a comment or question that seemed rude or intrusive to you? How did you handle it? I'd love to hear about it and I'm sure my readers would too!

Thank you for learning along with us and following our story!

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