* Disclaimer – a bun from another oven does not condone violence of any kind, despite the shocking levels of tactlessness present in some people that make a knuckle buttie seem entirely acceptable.*
We’ve all put our foot in it or asked unhelpful questions. In my younger days I used to love swanning into the pound shop and approaching the cashier with several items I had no intention of buying just so I could ask how much each thing cost. The bemused shop assistant would answer ‘everything’s a pound’ in a monotone voice while I giggled away not realising I was the 47th infuriating person who’d done that joke that day. I probably deserved a punch in the face.
Adoptive parents get asked a lot of unhelpful questions. I have been subject to all of the following questions or statements in response to me sharing the news that we were adopting. Underneath each one is the response my sassy side wanted to give, followed by an explanation as to why it wasn’t the best thing for someone to say. If you read this and realise you said any of these, don’t worry your face is not on my dartboard….honest 😉
1. Have you not thought of IVF?
Have you not thought of engaging your brain before you speak?!
This was irritating because the assumption here is that you are only adopting because you are infertile and have exhausted all other options of having children the ‘proper way.’ For us adoption was plan A.
However, many adoptive parents have struggled with infertility and have perhaps been through years of heartache due to this. They may well have tried IVF and it hasn’t worked.
If someone is considering IVF there are so many issues involved, such as financial implications, the age and weight of people considering it, plus questions around ethics. If you want to bring up almost every hot potato in one go, by all means crack on with your IVF questions!
2. You must be a Saint
I prefer Sister Theresa if you please my child, you may kiss my feet or at least put a pound in my ‘missions fund’….
This is normally said by people who have met me for the first time as no-one who’s spent more than 5 minutes with me actually thinks this! I saw an advert for adoption and fostering stating that it’s: ‘ordinary people doing extraordinary things.’ So true!
3. Is there summat wrong wi’yer? (For those not from the North of England this translates as ‘Is there something wrong with one’s physical constitution which means one cannot produce offspring?’)
Don’t beat around the bush will you – talk about subtle as a brick through a window!
This is a very blunt question to ask – even to a fellow Northerner! If someone hasn’t volunteered this kind of information to you, the chances are they don’t want to discuss their reproductive system wi’yer.
4. Kids don’t stay young and cute forever….
You are proof that kids don’t stay young and cute forever….
This was said because we wanted to adopt a child with Down Syndrome. It was suggested that babies with Down Syndrome may be cute, but can grow up to have serious challenges. I knew I was committed to loving a child forever, regardless of what their future challenges may be.
5. Oh – you aren’t her real mum?
Why don’t you pinch me and you’ll find out how real I am…..
If you mean the person who conceived, carried and birthed her then sadly, no that’s not me. But if you mean the person who cares for her needs, sings Meatloaf hits to her, and is committed to loving her forever then yes, that’s me. I cried once I’d had time to process this one because I do feel like her real mum and it’s hard when that’s questioned. It’s important to highlight here the permanence of adoption – once an order has gone through court you are legally recognised as their parent.
6. I know someone who prays for people who can’t get pregnant.
Why don’t you get them to pray about your personality then?
Again, we are beginning with the assumption that you are adopting only because you can’t get pregnant. I really value prayer, and if I was struggling to conceive I would ask people I know and trust to pray for me, and probably not your random mate as nice as they may be.
7. Are you sure you know what you are letting yourselves in for?
*bangs head against nearest wall*
Who really knows this until a child comes into their lives, whether that be by birth or adoption? Having children is challenging (I never knew I’d have to deal with nappies at 4.34am that put me off korma forever). Adoptive parents often have added challenges of raising children with additional needs, attachment disorders and other struggles due to a whole host of difficult circumstances their children have faced. But these children are so precious and need people who will step up to be the parents they so desperately need. If we’d thought of all the potential challenges our daughters Down Syndrome may present and then decided against it, we’d have missed out on having an amazing little girl in our lives. It’s wise to seriously consider the reality of the challenge of adoption, but also to be positive and full of hope for a better future for these children.
8. Adoption is easy – you’ve got a ready made baby and not had to do any of the hard work!
I knew all those body combat classes would come in useful at some point, lets start with a jab, jab hook…..
I went into motherhood in a strong place physically speaking. Our amazing social worker had advised us to eat well and exercise as she knew how demanding the matching stage can be. We thought she must’ve seen us as the Wayne and Waynetta slob type, and were relieved to find out she advises everyone in this way – phew! However, adoption is not an easy option! As well as the normal challenges of parenting there are the long periods of waiting, the uncertainty, the worries that go through your mind about whether the child will bond with you. There’s the anxiety about birth parents and if they’ll contest the adoption meaning you end up with a long court process. Our Christian faith helped immensely and we had a real peace during the process. Even so, it was a very challenging time.
9. My cousins, aunties, grandads, sheeps owner of the corner shop down the road knew someone who adopted and then got pregnant the next week.
My cousins, aunties, granddads, sheeps owner of the corner shop down the road knew someone who died of boredom hearing this story so many times…..
Literally every other person you speak to knows someone who adopted and then fell pregnant. That’s great – but it’s like saying adopting is some magic way of falling pregnant in the end. Adoption is not a good deed you do in the hope of ending up preggers.
10. You have adopted her? That explains how you lost your baby weight so quickly!
*snogs the person in the face* – no punch necessary!
Some suggestions of more helpful questions to ask adopters might be:
You are adopting – congratulations! Can I buy you a T-shirt with ‘not showing, still glowing on?’ (ok minus the T-shirt bit, unless you are asking me and then it’s a yes).
What made you want to adopt?
Tell me more about adoption – what is the process like?
Is there anything I can do to help?
What are the potential challenges of adopting a child with additional needs?
Anyway, I’m off up to the pound shop to do my usual routine for old times sake 😉
Sound as a pound,
Love Kate xx
P.S. Everything’s a pound
Next months blog – ‘What I learned from the woman with exploding butt cheeks.’ (yes, really)