Thursday, April 26, 2012

Piatt Adoption Etiquette

Okay, I'm going to take a deep breath and try to make this post as loving as possible. I truly appreciate everyone having SO much excitement for us as we start this adoption process. I will say that as we've experienced the awkward and hurtful questions through infertility I've gotten pretty good at dodging the questions, or having an auto response. Well, this process is very raw and I'm learning a lot about myself and what exactly I "want" or don't "want" to address. If you have asked me ANY of these questions, please please please do NOT think that I'm writing this post for you specifically or directing any anger towards you.

I am not frustrated with anyone, but I've realized that while we sat through an 8 hour course on what adoption is and what it isn't- I realized my sweet family and friends did not have the privilege of learning what we've learned. Also, because you haven't walked in our shoes, you do not know exactly how our hearts feel in the matter- and I do not expect you to completely relate or read our minds.

So this is supposed to be a learning experience for all of us. Also, I feel like I want to touch on some major areas... we are very open and I am a little fearful that if you come across another adoptive family and ask some of these question or make these comments, you might get an ugly response. We know you care and love us very much- and we also know you're curious. All I ask is that you think before you speak and take this post as a way to learn what I need from you. I'm not being mean or trying to be demanding, but after all- this is my blog and you're choosing to read this and support us. Thank you for caring.

...in no particular order:

1) I don't expect you to relate at all to how we feel- Please don't try to come up with a way to empathize with us. It's not comforting, it's frustrating to hear "I know how you feel.." I never agree with that statement. **Perhaps try- "I imagine this process to be very difficult and I'm praying for you to have hope, peace, and a sound mind during this process, please let me know if you ever want to talk."

2) We are truly excited about adoption. We are not forever closed to pursuing biological children but we are NOT adopting so we get pregnant. The phrase "watch, when you adopt you'll probably get pregnant..." Well great if we do- what a miracle! But when I hear this I hear "adoption isn't as good as having biological children" **just mention your excitement for us as we start our family!

3) Adoption is expensive.... really expensive, and while we've shared the number with most, I'm realizing this should be more personal. Most people don't discuss hospital bills after birth, or we generally don't discuss salary or how much we owe on our houses. Let's not discuss this anymore! It's an overwhelming number and I'm kind of tired of saying it out loud, haha. **if you are considering adoption and want to discuss finances on a serious level, please ask us!.. otherwise just know we are working really hard to pull the finances together and talking about how expensive it is really makes it more overwhelming. Just encourage us and ask how are the finances coming along?.. no more numbers.

4) "are you sad you can't have your own children?"... well, am I sad that we've experienced infertility? YES.. have we shed countless tears grieving our biological children? YES.. but through adoption we will have our own children. We will be real parents and a real family. **lovingly tell us what great parents we'll be :)

5) "You're so lucky you get to parent without going through pregnancy, you'll be able to keep your figure and not have to recover from giving birth (pain, healing, breast feeding, etc)".. While I am trying to be positive and I am excited of the differences in adoption vs pregnancy, this is just mean. We desperately want to be pregnant-I would love to feel our baby in my belly. No I don't want to be sick and vomiting and terribly uncomfortable and I'm not glamorizing the gross bodily functions that come with pregnancy but I would LOVE to grow a baby. ** So stay away from this one completely is the best advice I can give.. If I make these comments it's generally a coping mechanism and I should be shut down.

6) The constant stories of people you know who waited for a month, 10 years, failed adoption... the stories aren't comforting at all, ESPECIALLY the negative ones. But even the quick "painless" adoption stories aren't helpful because there is NO guarantee ours will be like anyone else's. **If you're trying to comfort us.. just say "wow, how exciting. I'll pray for you during this process and I know you will get the perfect baby for your family and have your own adoption success story."

7) a few terms we learned in our adoption seminar:
- birthmothers are choosing adoption or choosing an adoption plan. They are not "giving up" or "putting their baby up for adoption" .. it's all about using positive words, choosing adoption is positive, and giving a baby up sounds very negative.
-if after 48 hours the birthmother changes her mind and doesn't sign the relinquishment papers she is choosing to "parent"... not "keeping it". That implies it's like going through your closet and deciding to "keep" an old pair of shoes vs. throwing them out.

8) along the process of birthmothers changing their minds.. please don't tell us horror stories of failed adoptions, terrible relationships with birthmothers, and potential risks of drugs, abuse, mental disability. We've done the research and are totally aware of the possibilities-- we are STILL adopting.

I follow a few adoption blogs and these things come up later, but I realized it's never too early to address them.

1) Unless the birthmother we get paired with chooses a different title, we like birthmother.- we do not want to answer the question "where is their "real" mother or "real" father?" WE will be their real parents.

2) We are open to several different races and we don't ever want our child to feel uncomfortable. Please start checking your heart now so that you never say anything inappropriate towards our family. Along these lines- the number one thing I hear people say to new parents is who the baby looks like... this baby will not look like us. Not saying it won't resemble us by some cool coincidence, but genetically it will not have our eyes, smile, hair, or skin color. Now, you all KNOW we are adopting so this shouldn't be an issue but try and keep this in mind for children you are so quick to compliment in the store on looking so much like their parents. Looks aren't all that important and they may be adoptees. Just a change in perspective.

3) The history of our birth mother is ours to share. We will disclose information as we feel comfortable, but we really want to protect our child from hearing things too soon or from a secondary source. So if we choose to share something with you, keep it to yourself. We will do our best to keep you informed of our parenting plan so you are able to respect our family.

4) Touching on finances again, please never ask in front of our child how much "they cost".. I've heard of this happening WAY too often... I don't want our child to feel like we bought them from the store :/

okay that's all I have for now!

I realize most people reading this post love us and would never really think to do any of these things, especially not with ill intent. BUT I just want you to know what generic responses I hear on a daily basis from those around me when they hear we're adopting... I try to respond graciously and take into consideration most people don't know what to say and I KNOW I've said some really crazy things to people when I didn't know what to say. This is a way for me to send it out there and educate you as best I can on some of the heart issues that come along with adoption. It's not meant to sound hateful or negative--it's just my reality. If you don't know what to say- "congratulations, how exciting!" will NEVER fail :)

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