It's perfectly normal to be curious and adoptive parents understand there are many reasons people may have questions about adoption. What adoptive parents want all non-adoptive people to understand is that their role is to protect their child and their child's privacy.
Can you imagine walking up on a casual conversation in the grocery between your mom and a stranger about your most private personal details? It would be very hurtful. In the same way adoptive parents constantly walk a fine line of wanting others to know enough for them to be sensitive and yet they have a great responsibility to let their child's story be kept private until a time the child is ready to share it.
In our home, some of our children are older and want to share with whole world and have even asked me to be open in sharing. They are passionate about the world knowing of the orphans life experiences where they lived for so long. However I also have children who are still processing themselves and would be devastated to hear me talking about their adoption. Our children need to know we are a private and safe place and if they happen upon us talking about them, it creates feelings of insecurity in a relationship that is building trust.
One of the many important opportunities Grace Haven allows adoptive parents is a safe place for them to process difficult and unique aspects of their child's history and to be in company with others who walk similar journeys. Everyone needs a private place to share.
Here are some pretty typical questions and statements that adoptive families encounter and the possible wounding’s they carry.
1. How much did it cost you to get her/him?
A child may think, My parents bought me?
2. Are you their real parent?
The child may be left wondering, am I not real? Am I really their child? The question insinuates to the adoptee that they are less than.
3. How many of these children are yours?
A child may receive the message they don’t belong in the family.
4. Where did you get them?
A child may feel like an object. We “get" things but we never ask, “where did you get your husband or wife?”
5. Why did their real parents give them up?
Sigh. Yes. That question really happens and more times than you can imagine in front of the child. I don't even think I have to explain why this wrecks a child’s heart.
There are many more uncomfortable interactions, these are often the most commonly heard. As adoptive parents we don't want to shame the curious, but we do want to educate on how “innocent" questions can turn into a child having a meltdown later in the day or quietly stewing in lies they believed when they heard it.
My very favorite thing to hear (and the kids too) when we go places is, “What a beautiful family!” It's ok for us to be curious but we don't have to ask the question. I have even had strangers come up to me and ask if I would call them and talk to them about adoption. Yes! I am happy to do that. I feel respected and valued when another person is insightful enough to realize I’m on family time at the moment. It honors my children.