Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Immediate family responses to Adoption Friendly Language Letter

Roll Call:
DH's Father/Mother- Mother responded
DH's Brother/Sister In Law- no response
My Father/Mother- Mother responded
My Younger sister- responded (I actually read it to her prior to sending it out)
My Older sister/Brother-In-Law- no response.

I didn't really expect my older sister and her husband or my brother-in-law and his wife to respond. I don't think it was a negative reaction they just tend not to communicate very often. There also is a good chance my brother-in-law and sister-in-law have yet to read the e-mail but I could be wrong.

So the first response I got was from my sister. She even had indicated herself that she didn't know how to refer to adoption related topics and was part of the catalyst to get the letter written. Having her help edit the letter was helpful because I could have a perspective of someone that knew nothing. She e-mailed me a response ending with the affirmation that we are going to be great parents (I swear I wasn't fishing for complements by sending this letter but I think almost every response included this affirmation).

My Mother-In-Law was the second response to which she indicated that November was a special month because it was her birthday, her husbands birthday and her mothers birthday. She also indicated that she thought her mother (who passed about a year before I met DH) had a hand in our adoption. My personal reaction to the letter was that it was a bit self centered but honestly I dont really care as long as she got my message. This hopefully will give me a place to help reframe her language when she says things that are not adoption friendly. That was and is the objective of the letter- to create a framework to work from. I'm sure she is going to say things that will make me cringe again but now I can say to her "Why dont you just refer to the baby as a baby or your grandchild vs (insert what she said here)?"

My mother took a LONG time to respond (I just looked back- it took 2 days I guess it wasn't that long but it seemed like forever). She didn't say much it was brief but thanked us for putting the time into the letter and told us she is looking forward to being a grandparent. What I think was key though was that she responded to the family mailing group.

So When we finally talked about the letter (we talk every day and I dont think we talked about the e-mail for another few days) she said "thinking back I'm sure I've said some of those things but I just didn't know" I told her that I'm sure she had as well but I feel like I can TELL her when she says something that hurts (well most of the time).

She then went on to share my fathers reaction which was "when it comes to 'politically correct' terminology for things we are not familiar with we have to turn to those involved and go with what makes them comfortable." It made me wonder if one of my sisters had called or if my mother had challenged the language of the e-mail. Either way I think its true. Some of the language I'm not fully sold on and can be flexible with; however this language was created with all perspectives of the triad (birthparents, adoptees, adoptive parents) we all have to respect the language and try to do whats best/right for our families as well.

I think what is key is that the door is open for communication both ways. I now hopefully will feel comfortable educating my in-laws on adoption and they hopefully will feel comfortable coming to me when they are not sure how to address an issue. The letter provoked so much more anxiety then was required. I wish I had done it sooner.

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