Sometimes I forget. Most of the time I forget.
As an adoptive parent I am thankful to be living in a time and a place where adoption has been embraced. It’s certainly not a new or American concept. Moses was adopted 1600 years before Caesar Augustus who was adopted 2000 years before either of my children and neither of them was American. I mean Moses or Caesar . . . not my kids.
It’s a fact that adoption has been written about since ancient Babylon and the Roman Empire but NEVER has there EVER been so many, many, many resources available for the adoptive family.
There are uber-endless numbers of blogs, groups, websites, chatrooms, forums, books, videos, pamphlets, seminars, webinars, podcasts and after school specials that offer some level of assistance or understanding or explanation of every possible facet of adoption that could ever be imagined. Everyone from Oprah to Mister Rogers has chimed in, many in an effort to educate the non-adoptive world. For those of you who don’t have adoption as a part of your story a quick Google search will pull up 14 million pages offering help on how to talk to your kids about . . . you know . . . our kids.
Lest I slip into sounding snarky or ungrateful for those resources and the fact that many of the stigmas of the past and of other cultures are less prevalent right here and right now I want to reiterate . . . I am genuinely and deeply thankful.
However, I have yet to find a resource for how I should talk to my kids about . . . you know . . . yours.
Quite frankly . . . we’re normal.
I’m not just saying that because I read it in a book about adopted kids. We just are.
Completely, maybe even painfully normal.
My kids have taken on the role of bossy big sister and bratty little brother with a passion. They fight like cats and dogs. They complain when they have to do their chores. They don’t clean up their room unless they’re asked. They have to be manipulated to eat green things. They don’t like doing homework or taking baths or going to bed. They say funny stuff. They laugh like crazy when we tickle them. They beam with pride on the inside when we brag about them. They love Christmas morning and family night and doing high’s and low’s at dinner. They would both gladly trade the other one for three scoops of ice cream but they would both regret it as soon as the ice cream was gone. They would watch TV for days if we let them and even though they may not say a word they know when mom and dad aren’t being nice to each other.
Yep. Even the books about normal kids will back me up. We fit.
And if we are normal then I want to make sure my kids understand how to function well in a world where not everyone is exactly like them.
Here’s my short list of things I want my kids to know:
1. Non-Adoptive children are normal too
It may seem odd that some kids look so much like their parents. They may have the same skin, the same hair, the same eyes and the same smile. Sometimes they may even look like miniature versions of their parents dressed in matching clothes. That’s ok. Just because they are different doesn’t make them strange or weird. They may be strange or weird but that is not the reason.
2. You should never ask a kid if he/she is not adopted
Most children probably know already but you should never take that chance. Some parents choose not to tell their children that they are not adopted. It is better to let them bring it up and then you may ask questions.
3. It is NEVER OK to make fun of children who are not adopted
Teasing little children by saying things like, “SURPRISE! You’re NOT ADOPTED!!” is never funny. In fact it is incredibly offensive. Think about how you would feel if someone teased you like that. Seriously. Think about it.
4. Be careful with your words
We are a REAL family. You are our REAL kids and together we most certainly are a FOREVER family. The same is true for kids who weren’t adopted. We don’t hold the rights to “foreverness” but we love that it describes us. We’re also not better because we CHOSE you. Children who weren’t adopted were chosen too. The process was different but the result is the same. A REAL FAMILY FOREVER.
5. Don’t ever ask a non adopted child “how much they cost”
That’s tacky. You can never put a price tag on a person. The process is what costs money which is a good conversation to have if you’re interested. Children, however, are priceless, no matter what the process.
6. We can always talk
If you ever have questions about what it might be like to not be adopted, we can talk. If you wonder what it is like for your friends, we can talk. If you wish the whole world could be adopted, we can talk. Even, if you wish you had not been adopted, we can talk. Point is, we can always talk.
7. Take the high road
When kids are not like other kids sometimes other kids who are not like those kids say mean things. They ask mean questions because they don’t understand. They call names and make up stories because they are snot nosed brat faced little booger bites who need discipline. Don’t be that kid. Even if all the other kids are adopted and there is only one who is not, don’t join the crowd if the crowd is wrong. Be a friend.
8. Awkward moments are not the end of the world
As much as possible try not to say something hurtful but even if you do don’t let it end a good relationship. Sometimes we ask questions because we’re curious and it doesn’t go well. What matters more is what you do next. Move past it. Apologize if you need to and know that if you build a really great relationship you can ask anything you want . . . but that takes time.
Our adoption story is a beautiful part of our bigger story. We love it when we think about it but sometimes . . . most of the time, we forget.