slide show

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Adoption terminology

November is national adoption month.  The blog will probably be heavy on adoption posts this months, and I think I'll even be digging out some old adoption posts for some re-runs.

This post is both new and old.  It's been sitting in the que waiting to be posted since July!  I finally have a pic of Uncle T to post with it.

So Papa and his brother, Uncle T are alike in many ways.  They have the same mama, papa, and sister, and grew up in the same home.  They both enjoy golf.  They both have large families and live in the desert, in the same city.  Both loves shoes so much that it's kinda weird.  Both have 3 sons.  And both are very social men who can usually charm their way into (or out of) any situation.
And as God creates all men (and brothers) unique, they are different in many ways too.  They attended and graduated from different high schools in different states.  Growing up, Papa was active in his church youth group, and Uncle T enjoyed bull riding.  Papa was first born, and Uncle T was second.  Papa is in his 40's.  Uncle T is in his 30's.  Papa has 3 daughters where as Uncle T has 1.  Papa is 6'3".  Uncle T is 5'8".

Papa and Uncle T were playing golf last week.  As happens with golfers, they ended up at the 19 hole.  (That's golf lingo for the bar.  Someone had to explain this term to this rural girl once.  I was embarrassingly looking all over for the 19th fairway for years!)  A old family friend saw Papa and Uncle T and came over to say hi.  She, this family friend, has known the family since Papa and Uncle T were young boys themselves.  They used the opportunity to catch up.  How was the family?  Please say hello to your mom for me.  How old are the children now?

Maybe she was curious about adoption, or maybe she was just being polite and making small talk, but she asked Papa about Tess & Jude.  Uncle T listened from a bar stool away.  
How are Tess and Jude doing?  
Are they still adjusting well?  Folks are curious.  That's ok.
Yes, they're doing very well, Papa says. They have been home with us for almost 3 years now.  They will be 4 years old soon!
She inquired, Are Tess and Jude good children?  
Proudly Papa answers, Yes. 
She still doesn't have the information she's looking for.  I mean, are they well behaved?  
As often happens, curious folks want to ask you something about adoption or adoptees, but they don't have the proper lingo.  You can see it in their eyes and contorting face, searching for the right words in their head.  Trying to balance being PC with satisfying their own curiosity.  In the process, both words and thoughts can get jumbled.
Papa replies, Yes, they are good children, but they are toddlers and have their fare share of tantrums of course.  
But still she asks again...  the question she had originally tried to ask but this time clarified... Your children have always been really well behaved.  I mean are they as well behaved as your own children?

Papa heard it immediately.  Felt it within his soul as soon as she uttered the words.  ...your own children.  Were Tess and Jude as well behaved as his own children?  Inferring of course that Tess and Jude were not his own.  Not of him.  Less than his.  Less important?  Less connected?  Tess and Jude were the adopted ones in contrast to his bio children.  The other ones... not his own with perhaps a more temporary and less meaningful relationship?

Now it was Papa's turn for his thoughts to fumble around, searching for the right words.

Uncle T, who was listening all along, wonderful insightful, God-sent at the perfect time, Uncle T, offered his wisdom to the conversation... with a bit of force so that this dear family friend would understand her error.  They are his!  
Did I mention how my love for Uncle T grew 10 fold in just those 3 words?

In hind sight, I haven't a clue if folks outside the adoption arena would notice her huge blunder.  Or understand the profound implications of such a statement.  My T&J, almost 4 years old are eventually going to {soon?} get to a point where they will over hear these comments and feel their weight.  They will know that parts of our society sets them distinctly apart and different and separate from our biological children.  Implying that they have less of a connection to their mother and father and their family.  That they are less than a whole son or daughter and that their relationships are less important/connected/valuable/significant/whole/meaningful than the children who came from my womb.

You see, Tess and Jude weren't the only ones she was talking about in that moment.  Both Papa and Uncle T were adopted as well, and her words, although directed about Tess and Jude, had profound implications to Papa's and Uncle T's souls too.  Implying the same thing about their relationships and their worthiness.   Thankfully, instead of digesting such words, these adoptees {now grown to confident men who never actually refer to themselves as adopted becuase they've kinda forgotten, and it's horribly insignificant almost all the time} used the opportunity to correct and educate.  Uncle T did it in 3 short words.  They are his.

So I know it's just a little vocabulary, and perhaps I'm touchy about folks being respectful and knowing and using the proper adoption related terminology.  But to us and our children, this is big stuff.  Big stuff that carries weight inside our hearts for a life time.  Stuff that can determine how children that were adopted, my children, will feel inside about who they are and the value they carry.

Most folks are just curious and mean no harm.  But that doesn't mean hurtful remarks like these are appropriate.  For the sake of our children and our families, we must educate our community about the proper adoption terms.  Implore folks to select their words carefully and even guide them when speaking.
Uncle T watching his own son open presents on his 2nd birthday.
I love this image and that little smile.  It oozes "man happy!"


  1. What a powerful post.... kind of brought tears to my eyes knowing the weight that others words will bring to our lives and the lives of our adopted children.

    Beautifully written.

  2. I love this... it is always always awkward when the "your own" or "real" statements come up... I think, "Oh golly. Where do I start?" And I am always thankful for people like Uncle T who "get it" weather they have been there or not. Hugs to you and all your "own" kids.

  3. LOVE this!! I truly "get" that most people don't understand adoption nor the call to do so, dealt with that with my own precious mother ( she does get it now). People are curious but don't understand that they are asking about sweet souls who only think of their family as their own. Great post!!

  4. Love your post! I just spoke to our MOPS group today about adoption, and one part of my talk is on adoption-friendly language. The whole "own" thing is a biggie that I cover.

  5. Wonderful post. I've lived in big cities, small towns and in a foreign country. This isn't just something "Americans" do, or women, or men, or strangers.

    My own family sometimes says things like this.

    There is such a fine line between respectful and disrespectful. My white-skinned Irish/Scottish son is my child, just as much as my olive-skinned Chinese daughter is mine.

    They've both heard comments like this. So far I've been fortunate enough that they've been to small to really understand them.

  6. Adoption is intriguing to so many people and I'm grateful when people are comfortable asking me questions, even if not in proper terms. I'll talk about my boy any chance I get and the fantastic experience it has been to add him to our family. And while I'm at it I'll help them learn what I have learned and am still learning.

  7. Love it! So glad God has blessed you with 7 of your own kids. Cuz I'm not sharing my 5 with you hehe...I sure am ready to get my hands on my Asian ones. Can't wait to sqeeze them and love them to bits. Adoption is truly a GOD thing. Amazing!

  8. Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful post!!!!!

  9. love it, love Uncle T!! We have a lot of ignorance in our family :( It doesnt bother me as much when its strangers, but our family?? I am looking forward to your adoption posts this month!!

  10. I just found your blog through Pinterest with the "bacon and eggs" white chocolate picture. I started lurking your blog and I adore it. I work in the foster care system in Florida and work with licensing foster parents and love when they get the opportunity to adopt. November 18th National Adoption Day and we have 6 families adopting! Our licensing agency couldn't be more thrilled. Your family is amazing and good luck next year with Mazie!

  11. I absolutely love this post and couldn't agree more!!! Looking forward to your posts this month! And hoping that LOA is right around the corner! :)


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
Design by Deluxe Designs
all rights reserved. 2011