Tuesday, March 13, 2012


I still struggle with adoption friendly language.  Someone told my mother while baby girl was still in the hospital "at least she isn't one of those crack babies- those are the worst!"  I felt horrible because people have said ignorant things to me but nothing like that and that is the first someone besides me has been hurt by the ignorance of others.  Its hard because those of us in the adoption world know more about substance abuse affects then most people and realize that no "crack babies" are not "the worst" and all babies need love and a nurturing environment no matter their start.  It is not an easy check list to complete but I know that both DH and I learned a great deal about disabilities  and substance abuse issues that we never would have known had we never ventured down this path.

One of DH's coworkers use the "real parents" dager as did some of the nurses at the hospital.  It hurts.

So when my sister visited I was venting a little and she told me "we are not having this argument again."  She continued to inform me that if I was always caught up in semantics then I'd never be happy.  I just needed to let it go.  Its hard for me because she is good about using the right language but she some how feels that my feelings shouldn't be hurt when someone is relieved my baby is not  a "crack baby" or that the "real parents" decided to "give up" their baby.  It hurts when people tell baby girl how fortunate she was "saved" by us.   It hurts that my own sister cannot see that by allowing the "semantics" to continue we are perpetuating the myths that many adoptive babies are "crack babies" whos "real parents" didn't want them.  It hurts me and it hurts baby girl.  I tried to explain to her that when a woman gives birth to a healthy baby no one would dare say "at least its not one of those Down Syndrom babies!"  She was horrified that I'd make such an argument and refused to discuss it anymore.  I guess she isn't someone I can talk to.

On a bright note my mother-in-law has floored me as to how excited and excepting she is of baby girl.  She shared our story at the retirement home she works at.  I asked her (in light of my mothers encounter) if anyone has provided her with negative/rude feedback.  She shared with me that she has not experienced it but seemed thankful for the heads up for what might happen.  She shared that two of her residents came up after the meeting she shared at to tell her they were adoptive parents.  They shared their wisdom much of which was in my adoptive friendly language letter I sent out in November.  Their take home message was this is not your adopted grandchild- this is YOUR grandchild.  I think it was good for her to get it from someone other then me.


  1. I think you'll be hearing a lot of ignorant remarks for a long time to come. It's a matter of choosing to ignore it (as your sister things you should), or taking the time to educate people about their wording. Many simply do not realize that what they are saying is so hurtful.

    On the other hand, I think eventually, you'll "lighten up" about some of the things being said, such as "she's so lucky to have been saved by you." I used to get upset when people would tell me how lucky Gus is to have us... but now I take it as a complement.

    I've told former students and their parents (biologically connected) how lucky they are to have each other. I tell friends how lucky they are to have their kids... so when someone tells me that Gus is lucky to have us, I say, "Thank you. We're lucky to have him and we're thankful that God brought us together."

    I think it's all very raw and fresh, so the wounds are open. You're dealing with a lot of stuff right now, and schooling the ignorant on the right language isn't something that you should HAVE to keep doing. It SHOULD be common sense to not make RUDE comments about "crack babies." Keep educating if you want, or take some time to just ignore others. You deserve a break from schooling the ignorant.

    As for your sister... I can't say what to do there. I think because she's not in this world, she has no idea what it's like. You WILL be happy... by sharing your feelings with her, and her SUPPORTING you. Bottom line, she should have your back. If she doesn't, you don't need to rely on her for advice or sounding off on.


  2. Thanks Cat! You are my voice or reason :)

  3. Catching up with your blog. ;)

    I agree with Cat. The wounds are fresh and open. People will continue to make ignorant comments and you have no other choice but to let it go. And that sucks. But you'll slowly get used to them.

    I try to vent with people who get me (other adoptive parents) and close friends who are emotionally available to listen. Sometimes that's all we need - someone who'll listen. And in my case, no one in my family, as supportive as they are, as loving as they can be, are emotionally available to listen.

    When I'm complaining about the stranger du jour who stops me to say "Is she Chinese or something?" what I need is to vent, period. Not someone to tell me "It shouldn't bother you. She looks Chinese and she's beautiful." As if I didn't know that! I love EVERYTHING about her! I just hate people making the same remark over and over. I can ignore ignorant comments for the longest time but every once in a while I need to vent.

    Put on the Adoption Ambassador hat when you think it's worth your time and emotions. If it's a stranger who's not worth my time, I usually let it go. I do stress education - a never ending process - with my family and very close friends, because they will be around my daughter, and I don't want anyone to tell her "Hey, why did your real mother give you up?" So when the occasion arises, I gently correct them if necessary on any aspect or misconception about adoption, but I never sit them down to have an Adoption 101 class. I just take things as they come.

    It's so good that your MIL is excited and accepting. That makes my heart smile.

    As of your sister, maybe this is something you can't talk about with her. In my case it's my sister in law. She is supportive, absolutely adores my daughter and she might listen, but she always minimizes my feelings. So I try not to talk about adoption with her and choose to enjoy her love for my daughter.

    Hang in there, friend. :)