Friday, May 12, 2006

Things That Shouldn't be Said...

It never fails to amaze me how insensitive people can be. I've have heard so many stories where strangers, close friends, and even family members have made hurtful and discriminatory comments towards transracial/adoptive families. Our family has definetly received our share of these...

I've heard:

"Is he your real brother?"
YES, every one of by siblings is my REAL brother/sister. When most people ask that, I think what they are trying to ask is whether or not he is my biological sibling. It is important to be aware of what the word "real" implies to the adopted child. Are they less of a part of our family because they arent biological??? Of course the answer to that is an emphatic NO.

"What about his real mom?"

First of all, that is a very personal question. His family history belongs to him, and its his story to tell if and when he wants to tell it. And here we go with the "real" word again. Yes his birth mom is very real, but so is his adoptive mom. Referring to his birth mom as his real mom devalues the role of adoptive parents.

"Make sure he doesnt have AIDS before you bring him here"
My math teacher, Mrs. Joy, said that to me last year when I told her we would soon be bringing Aaron home. That is definitely the worst of any comments/questions Ive heard. She didnt understand that this was MY BROTHER. A living, breathing, little baby. Nothing in the world could have stopped us from bringing him home. If we had found out he had any medical conditions, we would have done everything in our power to get him the help he deserved. If he did have AIDS, would that mean he didn't have the right to a loving home and a family? My brother is not a product. We would never "exchange" him for another baby. I wish I could have explained this to Mrs. Joy. However, I was speechless, and the comment didnt fully register until later.

"If that's your brother, why is he black?"
Sadly, I've heard this comment more times than I can count. When my 14 year old brother shadowed me to see what high school was like, I was asked this question repeatedly throughout the day. I could tell it made Isaac feel uncomfortable, and I was tempted to respond: "Well, you know how it's possible for two black people to have albino babies? The same thing happened with my parents, it just had the opposite effect!!" hee hee. I decided not to be so sarcastic though...

"Do you ever get sick of having all those adopted brothers and sisters?"
My first response to this question was a simple WHAT???? Why did the word "adopted" even need to be placed in that sentence? Of course my brothers and sisters annoy me at times, whose dont? But that has nothing to do with the fact that they are adopted. I dont love them any more or any less than my biological brothers.

Through adoption Ive been able to broaden my horizons, learn about other cultures, travel to Ethiopia, and experience the love of five amazing kids. Adoption is not "rescuing an orphan". Adoption creates families. REAL families.


Anonymous said...

Hi, I am an adopting expectant Mom to 2 from Ethiopia. Thanks for your excellent post - it was well written and shows that you have compassion and maturity beyond your years. If I have a daughter, I hope she is a well spoken and caring as you are.
Heather Grafe in Canada

Kali said...

Growing up in a multiracial adoptive family, and as a bio child, I also got these comments throughout my childhood and still occasionally do from time to time. The one that has always gotten to me is the whole "real" concept. When asked which are my real sisters, I started as an elementary schooler saying that since I didn't have any fake sisters, I had no idea what they could possibly be referring to. It usually shuts people up pretty fast!

But I have also found that a lot of people who make seemingly insensitive comments are in fact actually interested to learn about how my family was formed and don't know how to find the right words. If I feel the questions are earnest (despite being poorly worded), I always try to take the opportunity to educate. Hopefully some people's perceptions of adoption have been changed because of it.

Amuzed by the work of God said...

real eye opener. Wow, did not see it that way.
Thank you, Kelsey.
This is real love from above. I know you got it from the Lord.
Thank you Jesus.