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Thursday, November 13, 2008

Is it Okay?

Last night at our adoption support group meeting, one of the ladies asked whether it's okay to approach a family they see in public with questions regarding whether or not the children were adopted. Clearly this would most likely happen in families who differ in appearance. Most of the responses were positive--along the lines that it is indeed okay to ask and/or bring up the topic. One mother stated she would much rather have people ask directly than to point and stare, as is sometimes the case. I've been thinking about this a lot and I wonder how I will feel when the time comes for us. I imagine I will be fairly open and willing to talk about our child and his or her adoption story, so long as the safety and comfort of our child is protected. For those of you who are parents, what are your feelings/experiences on this topic? Do you get direct questions, stares, etc.? Have your feelings/opinions changed as your child gets older? What do you do about this aspect of raising adopted children, if anything?

The meeting last night was more organized than the casual meet & greet style of the other meetings I've attended. I liked the opportunity to actually talk and listen to questions and answers; however, I'm also glad there was some mingling time afterwords because that's the aspect of the meetings I value most. What about you guys, do you have IRL adoption friends and/or support groups you attend? Would you attend meetings if your agency held them?

20 comments:

heather said...

If someone really needs to know, I prefer they ask, "Are you an adoptive family?" rather than say, "Is he adopted?" and treat them like they're not standing right there. We will acknowledge that we're a family by adoption with strangers, but most other questions get, "Why do you ask?" or "That's not something we talk about outside of our family" as an answer. Because unless they have a good reason for asking, it's not really their business.

Just one family's opinion. :)

alicia said...

one of the things I read in my adoption books was that if the child is older and strangers are asking those questions abotu whether they are adopted to make sure you get the childs permission before sharing their story! we were going to adopt an older child, thats why I was reading abotu older kids, but just a thought!

Tracey said...

We have parenting meetings not exactly support group meetings, but yes I like them. I would be honest if someone asked if my child was adopted, but I'd hope to get to a point where the child could answer for himself.

Rebekah said...

This is a bizzaro example, but it opened my eyes--When we had spirit week at school, a few weeks ago, I had to do some errands on my lunch hour dressed as a disco diva (remember the fro?) I, of course, drudged up all kinds of stares and quizzical expressions, but not one time did someone ask if I was celebrating Halloween early or going to a costume party or anything! Instead I heard whispers behind my back and kids giggling to their moms. I came home and told Ben that 1) if being a white mom to a black baby gets the same kind of stares (hopefully less!) then I'm A-OK with it. I'm confident enough that the looks really didn't bother me, but 2) I would so much rather have had people ask about my outfit then stare and laugh behind my back. So...I'm okay with people asking if my babies (when I get them!) are adopted. It will give me an opportunity to share our God story.

About the class thing, our agency holds classes every month, but it's so far from our house and I never really feel this burning desire to go, so we haven't been to any. And...no, I don't have any friends IRL--scratch that, I HAVE friends, just not adopting ones :0)

But, I'm hoping you'll be a IRL friend soon :)

Eileen said...

Glad you have a support group. Wish I could say the same! I've met a few people IRL through adoption boards...about 4, and I hopefully will meet up IRL with another person met through blogging soon. I haven't been able to locate a pre-adoptive, or even adoptive parent group in my area. When we finally have a child, I would like to start a moms group...you asked if we are using an agency...nope, a facilitator.

Jill said...

I personally LOVE to share Lucy's story (appropriate of course) with those who ask. It's mostly obvious because we don't look alike, and I want her to be proud of who she is, where she came from, and how happy we are to have her in our family. That said, I have never met someone unkind but I know it may come someday. My personal opinion is that people don't ask unless they are curious, and I hope maybe someday someone may be moved to do the same. On the other end, I have felt really awful by the way I have been treated by some other adoptive moms when I have tried to ask and share. I guess some are okay with it, and some are not. I would like to think my approach is nice.....I usually do not approach parents with older children who might be in earshot, and I explain why I am asking, but still can receive some cold responses. I am sorry I cannot be of more help. I just wanted to share my opinion.
Good luck! I think of you and pray for you daily.

happymomof2 said...

I enjoy sharing our adoption experience to those who are truly interested (interested in adoption etc...)however we have gotten some off the wall questions when out in public and that upsets us. If it is asked with the best of intentions then we don't mind sharing (obiously not too much with strangers etc...). Now we have gotten the "where did you get them?" now our response to that question and ones like it: from God! It is funny some people question whether our kiddos are adopted or they assume that they know and then there are others that have no clue- it is kind of funny that way!

Ashley said...

We haven't had many strangers flat out ask if our son was adopted. He's Caucasian like we are and sometimes even looks like my hubby. :) I find myself TELLING them though. I guess I'm such a newbie amom so I'm on fire about how fabulous adoption is. I'm open about adoption without sharing too many specifics. So, I guess I wouldn't mind if someone asked unless their questions were too personal... Hope that all made sense.

Trace said...

I belong to an infertility support group and I found it VERY helpful and I feel so much less alone. Our old adoption agency didn't offer one so I'm glad I found something.

And yes, I'd rather have someone ask me. If we do adopt a child of a different race I'll have a certain amount of pride in his/her heritage.

Jessica said...

I would definitely attend support group meetings if our agency had them. My husband on the other hand...probably too touchy-feely for him, you know? Although he's usually the one with the most questions!

I have found friends I was not friends with before adoption. And they've made all the difference...

Debbie B said...

I have both adoption agency events as well as the adoption ministry and many IRL adoptive moms. I couldn't and can't make it without their support.

We get lots of stares. Sometimes I do wish people would ask questions but then when they do it sometimes bothers me. It's more in how the questions are asked though for me. I can generally tell if it's just a curious person or someone interested in adoption. Curious people are the ones that ask the ignorant questions.
I love talking about adoption so I always try to welcome the questions.

Anonymous said...

This is sort of awkward for me. Our daughter is caucasian, same as us, so no one has ever asked me if she's adopted. Sometimes when I'm meeting people for the first time, like parents of her classmates or something, I don't know if I should tell them, or wait or what. Given my age, they must wonder!

On the other side, when I see a family with children of other races/ethnicities, I want to approach them as a fellow adoptive family but feel shy, in case that would offend them.

One of my oldest friends has four bi-racial (biological) children and she is frequently asked by strangers "are they yours" or "where did you get them"? It's so rude and insensitive, especially when the kids are right there!!

I hear your frustration with the wait, but hang in there!

Vintage Mommy said...

oops - didn't mean to comment anonymously - hit the wrong key I guess!

Karen said...

I would definitely go to meetings if our agency had them because I've met some other families from our agency at a BBQ over the summer and at the hospital when Evie was born (it was a first for our SW to have two of her families at the same hospital at the same time, and she has a really small agency!). It is so great to befriend other adoptive families, especially those who have been parenting longer and can mentor you.

As far as questions go, we don't get a lot of that since Evie is caucasian, but there have been circumstances under which it makes sense for me to bring it up, such as when someone asks "did you have a lot of morning sickness? Because I've heard it's worse with girls..." or "did you deliver vaginally or by caesarean?" Ha. But I got some advice from the other adoptive mom at the hospital with us, who had adopted twice previously, to not volunteer Evie's adoptive status to everyone I meet because it is like apologizing for not being a real mom and that's not the case. So, when someone says "she's beautiful!" and the implication is that I'm responsible for that, I just say "thanks!" or when someone says "she's three weeks old? You look fantastic!" I just smile and say, "thanks!" :)

Natalie said...

Although I don't have a child yet either, I think I'd want people to ask. Sometimes I think God has put me in this situation to inform people who really have no clue...and hopefully that way they'll be more sensative to the next couple they happen upon! It must be hard for those people with bi-racial biological children to get those questions...I don't know how I'd react in that situation!! I do have a friend who has 3 bi-racial Asian/Caucasian children through marriage...people look at her funny sometimes...but she's the type that just lets it roll of her back and laughs afterward! :) Hopefully I will be able to lean on her (she happens to be adopted herself!)

Hang in there with the waiting...I'd like to share this quote with you...always makes me feel better.
"Waiting is not doing nothing, it is surrendering and trusting." Anonymous

Nancy said...

Our agency holds meetings, but we haven't attended any yet. I'm not sure I'm quite ready for that, but I think I may do it just to see what it is like.

Becky said...

You do have to be careful! There is a Caucasian woman with a son in my daughter's gymnastics class who has Asian features. I wondered and wondered if I should/could ask her if he was adopted. Then, Dad brought him to class one day! You got it! He was of Asian decent! Boy, was I glad I didn't ask, not knowing someone,you could offend them. I always refrain from asking just b/c I don't know how it would be perceived by some.
Our children look so much like us, no one asks and are always shocked to find out they were adopted so, we don't encounter this.

Eileen said...

Hey M, stop by my blog when you get a chance and pick up your award!:)

The Popes said...

I am an adoptive mother of a biracial little girl who looks just like my husband. When we are out all together people never question us, but when it's just me, I get lots of stares and people will ask "is she yours?" I think that is so rude.
For one, of course she is mine. And two, we are explaining her adoption to her is ways that she can understand and that is nobody elses place to poke their nose.
I wish people had more tact when asking about adoption then they do.

TXMom2B said...

As a brand-new mom through adoption, I learned how vital IRL adoption friends are. When we first brought our son home, I had so many adoption-related questions, and only they could comprehend them, much less answer. I don't talk to them often but, when I need them, I like knowing that support group is there.

As for asking about adoption, I have to admit that, with my personality, it is good for me that our son coincidentally looks enough like me that it doesn't come up. I'm so proud that we followed God into the journey of adoption, and I'm very open about it to family and friends. With strangers, though, I would not enjoy them asking about it. It just highlights the differences between us and families formed through pregnancy. The only exception would be if a family formed by adoption asked me a specific question that they could relate to.