Since the first week of February we have been anxiously awaiting a court date when we will travel to Ethiopia for the first time. Our bags are semi-packed, including 4 cans of disease-carrying mosquito repellant. We’ve each been to three different doctors for a total of seven different vaccinations. The family books we prepared for Malachi are completed and packed. The passports are up to date, and the travel agent is awaiting our call for an OK to book flights. Once we get the court date, we could have anywhere between 3 days and 3 weeks notice to leave the country.
Waiting for a court date is by far the most excruciating part of the process yet. And it’s taking way longer than we originally anticipated. So to avoid boring you with an emotional rant about the pain of waiting that would leave you wondering if I’ve lost my marbles, I’ll turn my attention toward a little friendly foot-in-mouth prevention education.
7 Things Not to Say to an Adoptive Family
Most people are well meaning in their comments. They’re coming from a place of genuine concern or curiosity. But sometimes, uneducated remarks are simply inappropriate or downright offensive. Parents can easily discern the intent, then smile, nod, and politely respond. However, comments like this can be much more hurtful for children when made in front of them. So for the sake of adoptive families everywhere, let’s get smart about how we talk about adoption. If it sounds like I’m angry, I promise this list is more of a kind imploring to avoid this line of remarks and to put the needs of the child in front of our own curiosities.
- “Is he yours?”
Yes. He’s mine. Are you asking if he is my biological child? Oh! In that case, no. (as if it wasn’t obvious :))
- “Are you going to have any more of your own children?”
I’ll hold back a snarl. All of our children are “our own,” thanks.
- Where did you get your child?
Children are not commodities. Instead try asking, “Where was your child born?” Or “I’d love to hear the story of your adoption journey.”
- “How much did he cost?”
I know it sounds crazy and seems obvious, but adoptive families claim this question is asked way too often.
- “You are so lucky.”
Think about this from the child’s perspective. They have often faced more tragedy in their early years of life than most people will in a lifetime. That’s not lucky.
- “You’re so cute! I’m going to take you home with me.”
That’s ok to say to a child who is securely attached, but not to children who could likely be struggling with fear of separation or abandonment. A common complaint among adoptive parents is that their biological children are ignored in public and the adopted child is showered with attention. So if you’re going to say that Malachi is cute, don’t forget to mention that all of my children are cute – the bio one too!
- “Do you know what happened to his real parents? “
Well, of course, we ARE his “real” parents. And also, Malachi’s story is his to tell and his alone. We’ll try to keep the details of his story close to the vest until we’re ready to share it all with him and he is ready to share it with you. One day Malachi will grow up to be a man, and his life story will be his to share. His story will be all he has when he comes to us, so we will protect it carefully. We want our friends and family to be involved in his life from here forward. Love him sincerely. Remind him of the grace of Jesus, the goodness of God, and the beauty of redemption. Just leave the conversations about where he started for the intimacy of our family. We, like many other adoptive families, truly appreciate your patience and understanding in that.
That’s all for now. Hoping and praying the next post comes to you via in-flight wifi. See you soon, Africa. We’re coming for you Malachi!