Tuesday, March 31, 2015

14 Ways To Not Swallow Your Foot (or... Things Not To Say Or Do To Your Friends Who Have Adopted)

So a couple in your small group has decided to adopt. Or your daughter comes home from school talking about her new best friend who looks "nothing like her sister."

Wanna shock 'em with your savvy behavior while at the same time trying NOT to remove your foot from your throat?

Check out these 14 easy things to not do or say to your friends who have adopted... put 'em in practice and you're well on your way to becoming an advocate!

1. "Oh my gosh! They are SOOOOOO lucky!"
Nope. No they're not. Not at all. Lucky would imply that we somehow were part of some saving grace for them -and we all know that's not true. Give them some time (say middle school or so) - they'll likely tell you how unlucky they really are...

They are - however - blessed, divine, righteous, children of a redeeming Savior - but they aren't lucky. Luck did not place them where they were. There is nothing lucky about starting out life in some of the hardest, toughest, most challenging circumstances you can imagine while your birth parents have had to make some of the hardest, toughest, most challenging decisions ever.

Now us... me and Laura? If anybody's lucky - it'd be us. We're beyond lucky. We're also blessed that the same redeeming Savior who built these little champions found it fit to choose us as their parents.

No luck in this family people. Only God.

2. "How much did they cost?" or "You have a receipt for those kids?"
Yep - been asked both of those questions. And look - we are fierce advocates for adoption because we do believe in it as an option after much else has been exhausted - so if you do wanna have a real conversation around costs and ways to step out in this area - we're all about it.

But if you're asking that question with other motives... examine your heart. STAT.

Would you ask me how much I make? Would you ask me to see my check book or online bank account information? No?

Then why would it ever be okay to delve into that area with somebody?

Here's a hint... it's never okay. Ever. And if you just simply can't handle it and just have to know... that's what Google is for.

3. "Could you guys not have kids?"
No - we couldn't - hey, did you get that rash on your privates cleared up? No... still got it? Ewwww... I'm sorry.

See... weird, huh? Infertility is a medical issue that is ripe with embarrassment, feelings of inferiority and inadequacy. Why on earth would you ask somebody that?

On top of that - you're making a pretty strong assumption that somebody only adopted because they couldn't have biological children. Silly naive person...

Here's the deal - get to know us and we'll likely share everything with ya - the good, the bad and the ugly. But don't try and pry it out of me if I don't want to share it with you. Weirdo.

4. Touching their hair (or any part of them) without their permission.
Let's be honest this should just apply to humans in general. Unfortunately - it's on this list - sooooo... ya know... people.

I get it - my kids are UTTERLY ADORABLE. The most beautiful on the planet. I say that with complete humility because they have none of my DNA (thank God!). And that hair... I mean... come on! Meron's Polamalu-esque locks, Mebbie's Minnie-Mouse Puffs and Z-Dogg's Polka Dot, Polka Dot, Polka Dot AFRO!

I know - sometimes I just wanna romp in it myself... but I'm their dad. You? You're a stranger in line at Target. Don't be an even stranger stranger by touching my kids.

And for the record - they're not zoo animals or some wild species we discovered deep in the woods. They're kids. Don't stare, don't touch... go to the zoo for that. Go pet a lion.

5. "Do they know they're adopted?"
Nope. And we're never, ever gonna tell them.

I guess there are times when this may be the case - but in interracial, dynamic families like ours - uh... come on now.

We talk about adoption a lot around here. In beautiful ways while acknowledging the harsh reality and pain of it all - so yeah - our kids know they're adopted.

And ya know what? They're fiercely proud of that, their family and the very place God has put them.

6. "They're so cute. I'd love to sneak one home in a suitcase."
Hmmm... and I guess I'd love to sneak you a file baked in a cake into prison, you child trafficker, you.

I have heard this said by so many people before and I know they say it out of ignorance - but look at it - say it again - while thinking of the situation that led to the need of adoption. While thinking about our kids. Say it again - go ahead.

It's belittling and demeaning. It reduces a person - a beautiful creation of God - to something that you wish you could smuggle out of the country.

It's also a slap in the face to people who respect the system - go about it the right way - and suffer through the process and financial burden of it all.

So no... no suitcase smuggling comments.

7. "We think we want to adopt one day too - but we want to have our own kids first."
I think what you meant was "biological kids" but still... it's an error in thinking that can lead to other problems.

If you see a difference between a child that pops outta your belly and a child that comes into your family by adoption - then you seriously need to reconsider your plans.

It's gonna take a WHOLE LOTTA GOD to stare at your OWN child that came in to your family through adoption - when they're teenagers, all angsty and angry and yelling at you that you're not their real mom or dad - and to not see them as anything but your own child that you love.

If ya start off on that foot - it's only gonna go downhill.

My kids are my own.

8. "Are they real brothers and sisters?"
No - Mebbie is actually a puppet and Z-Dogg is nothing more than a cardboard cut-out rendition of a little brother. It's all fake.

Again - I think what you meant to ask was "Are they biological siblings."

Not that it matters - or is any of your business - because now - in this family that God mashed together - they couldn't be any more brother and sister.

And that's really REAL.

9. "Do they speak english?"
Well - let's see. Zechie actually came home speaking Minion-ese. Now he speaks a Minion dialect of English.

Mebbie was on her third language when she came home - and she picked up English in about 3 weeks and I'd venture to say she speaks it with a better grasp of it than a WHOLE lot of adults I know.

And Meron - well Meron was 7 months old when she came home - the only thing making noises was her butt. It sounded English. Smelled English too.

Yes - my kids speak English. Unless they're being disciplined. Then they like to pretend they don't understand English and can't speak any language.

10. Acting as if behavior issues are directly related to being adopted
Pssst! Parents of biological kids - come here - I wanna share something with ya...

I see your kids. I see them at church. At School. At Target. At the playground. And... MAN OH MAN ARE THEY HORRIBLE!

Is it because they're biological? It must be because they were born from your womb - because my kids don't act anything like that.

See how irrational all of that sounds? Don't paint with big, fat, broad brushstrokes.

And hear me - a lot of children who start life out in trauma, or terribly hard conditions WILL have some challenges to work though. But ya know what? So will a lot of biological kids.

Just don't ASS-U-ME things...

11. "What happened to their real mom and dad?"
You're looking at 'em Sherlock.

I think the thing you're digging on is what circumstances drove their biological parents to have to make what I can only imagine is probably the hardest decision a parent could ever be faced with.

Is that what you meant? Oh, it is? Well - that's none of your business.

That's my child's story and I will defend it fiercely. Oh - I pray that one day they will be used by God to impact His kingdom in a mighty way. I mean - Meron has already stood up on her own in her Sunday school class and shared a 30 second testimony of her life.

But that's their life. Their story. Don't ask.

12. "Do they have special needs?"
Have you met my kids? They're incredibly needy and they all think they're special.

But seriously - I know some amazing families who have adopted some incredible kids with medical needs and other circumstances. Some of them share publicly about the process and some of them don't.

But either way - it's a pretty pointed question to ask if it isn't being offered up to you.

Tread carefully in that area. Your best bet? Get to know people. You'll learn more in the long run that way.

13. "Why Ethiopia? There are kids right here in America with needs too."
Sigh... truthfully... this one just saddens me.

It's a window into a very shallow and narrow mind.

Yes - there are all kinds of needs here in America - needs that we care deeply about. We try to expose our kids to those needs and find ways we can be involved as often as we can.

But that doesn't mean we can't care for our brothers and sisters all over the globe. Most of the time - when I'm asked this question - it's by somebody not doing anything anywhere - here or abroad. So it's an easy one to brush off.

But my typical answer to "Why Ethiopia?" - it's easy...

That's where my kids were.

14. Asking stupid, rude and probing questions right in front of my kids.
Wanna quickly learn how fiercely I will protect the innocence of my kids? Ask any one of the aforementioned questions within earshot of my kids...

I won't turn green - but you still won't like me.

This has happened at stores, from strangers, from friends, from people who mean well (I think...) - and each time I treat it the same... SHUT IT DOWN.

My job right now - is to protect the innocence of my kids as long as I can - to not let the world creep in and steal it.

So please - don't make me have to get crazy on ya....

So there ya have it folks - 14 ways to not swallow your foot...

And become a pretty solid adoption advocate in the process!


Kari said...

Fantastic, Tymm!

K said...

YOU ROCK! This is the best best list ever. I have adopted my beautiful angel from Ethiopia and have heard at least half of these questions.

Anonymous said...

Possibly the best post I've ever read on any subject!
Maybe we could all learn a little something more if we truly stop to think before we speak. I'm guilty, who's not?