The concept of adoption is well-known but often not known well. People adopt for all sorts of reasons and often times take a lot of criticism from people who just do not get it. Here are a few things that a person should understand about adoption.
1) Reasons Why Folks Adopt
Adoption is not always a second-place trophy to family building. Yes, many couples turn to adoption after years of infertility, but that does not make it a second rate choice. Some families adopt prior to having biological children, while some adopt after. Families adopt for many different reasons, but all have two things in common–the love of children and the desire to provide them with a forever home. Adoption is a life’s calling, and families discover it at different stages in their lives.
2) Adoption Culture
Adoption comes with its own culture. Adoptive families tend to look at life, family, and children differently than biological families do. They realize blood is not the only thing that makes a family. Love makes the family. Each family celebrates adoption in its own way and with their own traditions. One of those traditions is day unique to each adopted child called “Gotcha Day” or “Adoption Day.” It is a family holiday to celebrate the day the adopted child joined their forever family. Sometimes adoptees retain various forms of communication with their biological families. Adoptions can be open, closed, or semi-open in communication. When a family adopts a child, whose nationality or ethnicity is different than their own, the adoptive family will often retain parts of the child’s ethnic heritage and incorporate it into family life. Adoption weaves together individuals and cultures to form a family.
3) Adoption Terminology
Becoming familiarized with adoption semantics can be very beneficial. Not only can one converse intelligently with members of the adoption community, one can avoid comments that are offensive. Here are a few words/phrases to avoid:
- References to the child being their “own” child. In the eyes of the parent, as well as legally, the adopted child is a much the adoptive parents’ child as any biologically born child.
- Since children are priceless and it is illegal to buy/sell children, please don’t ask “how much you paid for the child.” Adoption fees are for governmental fees, birth mother care, and agency/lawyer fees.
- Children are “placed” for adoption and not “given up” for adoption.
- Any ethnic or cultural comments about a child’s appearance are bad juju and can make a person seem racist.
- The concept that “once a family has adopted they will become pregnant” is uneducated and very rude.
4) Adoption Is About The Child
A prospective adoptive parent may want a child and go to great lengths to bring one home, but the adoption process is not about them. Every background check, every doctor visit, every home visit, every talk with a social worker may make it seem like the process is all about the person adopting, but it is not. Adoption is finding loving, forever homes for babies, children, and teens. All the hoops that must be jumped through are to ensure that the child is indeed going to a good home.
5) It Can Be Tough
Each family, who opens their hearts to a child, opens themselves to heartache and joy. They have fought valiantly to earn the right to bring that child home. Some families wait years for a child to come home. Some wait only a short time. Some adopt children who come from traumatic places. Adoptive families have dealt with rude and cruel comments from their own families, as well as from strangers because adoption sometimes looks strange to those who build their families traditionally. Adoption is not easy, but every family, who has journeyed into the adoption world, will say that it is worth it…and they would do it all over again.
Knowledge is power. That power will enable a person to be compassionate towards families that adopt. Bringing a meal or asking how one can help them will do more to encourage the adoptive family as they transition.