Nov 15, 2011

"They are REAL"

This exchange really happened at the grocery store the other day:

Cashier: "How many children have you adopted?  Two?" 
Me: "Three.  I have 3 children."
Cashier" "Oh, none of them are your real children?  I thought you adopted 2 and one was your real child."
Me:  "Well, all three are real children, and we adopted all three."
Cashier: "So, you don't have any real children?"
Me:  Speechless. 

I had to leave before I lost it.   It never ceases to amaze me the questions and comments I get from people.  Thank goodness none of my children were there with me.  I probably would not have remained speechless if they were with me.  I know what that woman meant, but would my children have understood that she was asking if I had given birth to any of my children?  Even so, is it any of her business?  I don't go around asking personal questions about other people's children. Imagine if I went around asking, "Oh, did you give birth to them vaginally or have a c-section?"

While sometimes I am rendered speechless by people's comments or questions, usually I try to use the situation to educate the person about adoption.  However, my childrens' adoption stories are their stories and not mine to tell, so I will not reveal too much information.  We've always been open with  our children about adoption , so it isn't that we have something to hide from them.  It is just up to them to reveal what they want people to know about them.  Do you go around telling everyone how your mother gave birth to you?

While going through the process of adopting, I read "Twenty Things Adopted Kids Wish Their Adoptive Parents Knew" by Sherri Eldridge.  
And while this book was helpful, it tended to dwell on the negative.  There are so many good things about adoption, and I guess that is why I am sometimes speechless at people's comments.  While I won't deny that my children will have issues to deal with regarding their adoptions, I don't feel like I need to label them, or our family as "special" because they were adopted.  My children are special because of who they are.  So here's my Top 6 things I wish people would know about Adoption.

6. My children are my real children.  They are not robots.  They are children with feelings, hopes, dreams, talents, and imperfections just like everyone else. It's O.K. to ask questions, just be sensitive to when and how you ask questions.

5. I am their real Mom and my husband is their real father.  We will never deny our children's connection with their birthparents. They nurtured them for 9 months and gave them life.  They care deeply for them, and made a selfless decision.  My husband and I are the real parents because we are the ones parenting them on a day to day basis. We are not raising someone elses' children. 

4. My children were not GIVEN UP for adoption.  The birthmother made an adoption plan for their child. This is an incredibly selfless act.  Just because they chose to give up their parental rights doesn't mean they stop loving the child.  We have varying degrees of contact with our children's adoptive parents, and while you may be curious about them, it is really up to our child to decide what to tell you about their story.  I don't feel threatened that we stay in contact with the birthmother, we feel blessed.  Not everyone has the opportunity to know their biological parents.  We found that it makes our children feel more secure to know where they came from and how much they were loved from the very beginning. We won't deny that there may be abandonment questions, but that isn't something to be ashamed of, just dealt with and talked about privately. 

3.  We didn't buy our children.  I've been asked "how much did they cost?," when one of my children was standing right there.  It made them feel like an object picked out on sale at the store.  Yes, we paid a fee to an agency, but that fee covered a variety of expenses.  If you want to know the cost of adopting, ask me in private.   My answer in public: "They are priceless."

2.  People often asked, "Where did you get him?" when we adopted Ryan, who is Laotian. Ryan was born in Virginia.  If I was in a good mood I'd assume they were asking if we adopted internationally, but once I sarcastically responded, "K-mart blue light special, but I got the best one!" 
 I'm O.K. that my children don't look like me.  They are O.K. with it too.  The first time I knew Ryan saw himself differently is when a MOPS newsletter came home and there was a picture of a woman with her son that was adopted from Korea.  Ryan looked at the little boy and said, "It's a Ryan!"  We live in a diverse area, so it is common to see people of all different races. I have to laugh when people say that my children look like me, as if it is a comfort for me.  I love the way my children look.  We don't think about the fact that we look different until someone points it out to us.  I've been mistaken for the nanny or babysitter too many times to count.   

1. Adopting our children is all my husband and I know as far as the experience of becoming parents goes.  It is something that we did, and are blessed because of it.  There is so much good that comes out of adopting a child.  It isn't really something one can articulate in words, you just have to experience it.  That is why I am so grateful that there are biblical references to adoption.  We are all adopted sons and daughters of our Heavenly Father (see Galatians 4: 4-6, and Romans 8:15)  We may be their parents here on earth, but ultimately they belong to our Heavenly Father.  The fact that we were chosen to be the parents of 3 beautiful children is sometimes daunting to think about.  I pray daily for the grace to be the parent I need to be so that my children grow up to know, love, and serve our Lord.  I couldn't do it without the love and support I get from family and friends. 




  1. Wow, people can be extremely callus. I am so glad that you are a positive advocate for adoption and a gentle Christian soul.

    Sometimes, I wonder if it isn't a matter of the lack of classical education that confounds people's comments. The study of the English language and her vocabulary is sorely lacking in education. Not to defend, but I would imagine the cashier meant "natural", born of you children. But, "real" is the word she used.

    I not only wish people appreciated adoption more, but the act of considering what they will say before they say it, as well.

    So sorry you had to endure that deplorable lack of tact and language prowess.

  2. you are the very BEST "real mom"! Patient, kind, funny and in love with your K-mart blue light specials. They are blessed to have you both guiding and loving them through life. Great piece Melissa! Fabulous!

  3. I'm an adopted kid. I get asked about my "real" parents all the time. Last time I hugged my mom and dad - they were pretty darned real. Not figments of my imagination..... :)

  4. Thanks ladies, for commenting here. Wow, real people read my blog :-)!

  5. Beautifully written! I wish everyone thought the way you and Ryan do!


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