9 Things Not to Say or Ask an Adopted Child

Me and my dad!
Me and my dad!

I’m adopted and over the years I’ve been asked so many questions concerning it.  I’m pretty open about my adoption and I love educating people about adoption.

I’ve seen a lot of posts on what not to say to adoptive parents and was inspired to put my own twist on the topic.  It’s important to know how to lovingly interact with the people around us.  So I’ve come up with 9 things that people commonly say or ask.  People are curious and that’s great, but let’s tweak a few words and phrases ;-)

9 Things Not to Say or Ask an Adopted Child

1.   “So, have you met your real mom?” or “Do you ever want to find your real mom?”

My adoptive mom is my real mom.  It says so on my birth certificate as well as by the judge who legalize my adoption.

Do you mean biological mother?  Yes, I have met her.  I had the opportunity to meet her earlier this year.

2.   “You’re adopted?!  That makes sense, you look nothing like your mom and dad.”

Way to state the obvious!  I would also like to remind you that there are plenty of biological children who look very different from their biological parents.  They might look like that long lost great uncle.  Genetics is the luck of the draw.

3.  “Do you have any real siblings?”

My sister, Laura, and I being carted around by Dad
My sister, Laura, and I being carted around by Dad

I’m never sure how to answer this, but yes, I have a sister named Laura.  She is very much real.  We grew up together, fought together, plotted against our “real” parents together, got in trouble together, played together, and the list goes on.  I also have a biological half-brother named Lee.  Since I just met him earlier this year, I don’t have a history with him… but so far, he seems pretty cool ;-)

This question is usually followed up with, “Are you other siblings adopted too?”  This is a fair question since there are adoptive couples who are unable to have children, but this isn’t every family.  Some people see a need for adoption and then adopt.  AND the answer is yes and no, my sister is not adopted, but I do have two step brothers who are both adopted.

4.  “When you say ‘mom’ do you mean your adoptive mother or your biological mother?”

“Mother” is a special word.  It’s given to the woman who raised you, cried with you and for you, taught you the ways of life, took care of when you were sick, encouraged you, protected you, disciplined you, fed you, clothed you, and you get the point.  There is a special place in my heart for my biological mother because she gave me life, but I call her by her name, Joy.  To me, she is a woman who gave me a tremendous gift.  It would be weird if I called anyone who gave me a huge gift “mom.”  Awkward.

I also want to tag on to this topic that every family is different.  Sometimes a mom or a dad may not be present in a child’s life.  A mentor, step-mom or a step-dad might be the bearer of the title “mother” or “father.”  My adoptive dad is my dad, but I also have another father figure in my life, Tom, who I consider a father.  Family isn’t always blood.  Sometimes A lot of times, family is found.

5.  “Do you remember your mom?”

I really hate this question.  I tell people that I was adopted at birth and 9 times out of 10 people still ask this.  I have no clue why!  I want to look at them and say, “I was a baby.  Do you really think I have the ability to remember her?”  The answer is no.  However, I do understand the question.  If you are speaking with a child from the foster care system, then this is still not a good question ask!  If the child remembers his/her parents, they may not want to bring up subject pending the circumstances.  It’s best to let them bring it up if they want to share with you.

Joy (my biological mother) and me striking a pose!
Joy (my biological mother) and me striking a pose!

6.  “Do you know why she gave you up?”

First of all, let’s rephrase this question.  How about asking, “Do you know why she made an adoption plan?”  The words, “gave you up,” makes it sound that I’m undesirable and/or I’m just some disposable thing.

But to humor you…. I do know.  However, this is a very sensitive and often a private subject for a birth mother.  My birth mother didn’t tell anyone that she “gave me up” until 27 years later when I first contacted her.  I understand your curiosity, but keep in mind that you are asking for the intimate details of a birth mother that you don’t personally know.  If an adopted child knows the story and feels comfortable telling you, then they will.

7.  “I don’t know what I would do if I found out that I was adopted.”

I know exactly what you would do.  You would just keep living.  Being adopted would be your norm!   I’ve lived a normal life with ups and downs and everything in between just like everyone else.  The only difference is that I’m not biologically related my mom.

Adoption seems like such a life altering thing.  In a sense, it is, but it’s not as life altering as you my think.  My parents are still my parents.  My sister is still my sister.  It doesn’t change anything about who I am.  My life was not built on a fortress of lies.

Most people say this statement because not being adopted is their norm.  Being adopted is mine.  I know nothing else.

8.  “Where are you from?” or “What’s your heritage?”

For a long time I never knew how to answer this because I didn’t know.  I have very dark hair and eyes and sport olive skin, so my family thought I was Italian or Greek.

I, personally, don’t really care about this question.  However, it does elude to a clear distinction that the child doesn’t belong within their family history.  I don’t really have a suggestion on how to ask this.   I suppose it’s a suggestion to judge the depth of your friendship of the adopted before asking this.

Oh, and it turns out I’m Irish and Native American.  Crazy mix, eh?

9.  “I bet you feel lucky that you were adopted.”

Yeah... I was pretty cute.
Yeah… I was pretty cute.

First of all, I don’t believe in luck.

Second of all, “lucky” compared to what?  Having the life that I currently have is all I know!  I would have to go back in time, live life as a biological child, and compare and contrast which life would be better in order for me to answer this question.  Keep in mind that no family is perfect.  Maybe rephrase this into a statement from your point of view such as, “I’m glad your were adopted because I couldn’t imagine my life with your friendship.”  This not only edifies them, but also gives them a chance to comment.

***BONUS***This one gets asked a lot.  It’s not a bad question, I actually love this question because I get to share my thoughts concerning telling a child that they are adopted.

“How old were you when you found out you were adopted?”

I don’t remember a time when my parents sat me down and had “the talk” with me.

Not that talk!

That one was a very awkward conversation between dad and me after bed time prayers when I was twelve… hat’s off to Dad for powering through that talk.

Little Jess
Little Jess

I grew up knowing that I was adopted.  I was taught what adoption meant and I was taught what the word “biological” meant.  Both were equally special in their own and unique ways.  My parents reinforced that there was no difference between my sister and I.  I was told that it didn’t matter how I became apart of the Wright family, but what mattered was that I was in their family.

So, there you have it.  Those are the most common phrases and questions that I hear from people.  I love talking to people about adoption, so I welcome the awkward questions and phrases.  People are just curious, I totally get it.  I’m glad to have the opportunity to bring clarity on the subject.

-J

Weekend Wrighting – NaNo Snippet!

I’m over half way done!  I’m at 26,634 words :-)

I hung up my cloths on the shower curtain bar in hopes they would air out. With all the dirt spots and occasional holes, that hope quickly diminished. I stepped into the hot water and vigorously scrubbed every inch of my body until my skin was pink. Afterwards I just sat in the hot water until it was cold and my hands were pruned. I heard the room door open followed by a knock on the bathroom door.

“You still in there?” Cam said, “Hey, I got you some stuff for when ever you get out.”

“What kind of stuff?” I asked.

“Umm. I’ll just leave it on the bed for you. I’m going to the lobby to get a cup of coffee. You can join me when ready, if you want.”

I let out the water from the tub after I heard Cam leave. Wrapped in a towel, I went to the bed and found a paper bag that said, ‘The Thrifty Store” sitting on top. I looked inside and found an assortment of clothes. Cam was something else. I’m not sure if I really deserved his friendship. There was nothing that I brought to this…. Friendship? What exactly were we?

I opened the bag and found two pairs of flees lined leggings, several long sleeve shirts, a blue coat, and… a package of underwear. My cheeks burned with embarrassment. He bought me underwear?! Well, at least it was packaged and the right size. I was in no means to complain since I’ve been wearing he same pair for about a four days. Maybe five? I had lost track of my days. It felt like a lifetime.
Underneath the clothes, I found a pair of green slippers. I yanked the tags and stickers off and stuck them on my feet. Relief. They were so soft and cushiony. It felt like I wearing Heaven on my feet. I was almost more grateful about those slipper than the underwear.

Almost.

After I dried off, I twisted my hair into a bun, and pushed past the awkward feeling of wearing the underwear that Cam bought. I slipped on the black pair of leggings and tugged the blue long sleeve shirt over my head. It was a smidge big. I had to roll up the sleeves a bit and the bottom hem hit just passed my hips, but it was warm, comfortable, and more importantly, it was clean.

I walked out into the lobby and saw Cam sitting on the electric blue couch by the fireplace. He nodded at me and gestured for me to come sit next him. He looked at my slippers and grinned, “cute shoes.”
I laughed, “Thanks, I hear they’re all rage,” I said as I struck a pose. I sat down on the bright blue couch and looked down at my hands, “Thank you.”

“You’re welcome.”

“You didn’t have to buy me clothes,” I kept looking at my hands. Why couldn’t I look him in the eyes?

“I know that. I had the chance to pack some clothes before we left. You left with only the clothes on your back, and you haven’t complained it once. I think that constitutes for some clean cloths.”

“Why are you being so nice to me?” I regretted my question the second it slipped out of my mouth.

“Giving you some clothes isn’t being nice, it’s fulfilling a need… and believe me, you needed it,” he said with a laugh.

“Cam!” I playfully slugged him in the shoulder.

Do You Love Adoption?!

embracing life round logoI work for an adoption agency called Embracing Life.

Embracing Life Adoption Agency (ELAA) is a faith-based adoption agency serving the metro Atlanta area. Our mission is to make adoption a more viable option for both the adoptive parents and birth parents.

We’re hosting a 5K and need at least 12 more runners (or ghost runners/sponsors) for our race THIS SATURDAY, November 15th at Tribble Mill Park in Lawrenceville, GA!  Registration and directions: www.runforadoption.com

Why run or sponsor the race? We want to see the love of Christ ministered to birth moms!

The proceeds of the 5K go towards ministering to birth mothers, providing gift baskets after delivery, providing training and resources for jobs and school, and providing free events and services for our birth mothers (haircuts, clothing, job training, classes).

Social Things!

Hi!

Photo on 4-3-14 at 1.08 PM #2I’m not blogging a whole lot in the moth of November because I’m participating in Nation Novel Writing Month and that’s been consuming my blog time!  I’ll be posting an excerpts from my novel each weekend for your reading pleasure.

HOWEVER, I am on various forms of social media where you can find out what I’m doing and what I would normally blog about ;-)

I have twitter:  @jessthewright

I’m on the facebook:  Jess the Wright

And I’m on Instagram: jessthewright

Be a follower!  (You will never hear me say that again… I’m more of a “carve your own path” kind of girl.)

Weekend Writing – NaNo Excerpt

Here is another excerpt from the novel I’m writing!    I’m a little over 10,000 words :-)

NaNo Excerpt

Cam kept moving at a quick and steady pace. He didn’t seem as exasperated as I was from riding so long.

Falling behind, I called out to him, “Cam, can you slow down?”

“No. Try to keep up.” He wasn’t even out of breath.

“But I can’t. I’m slower than you.”

He looked back at me without stopping, “If I slow down, so will you.”

“I’m OK with that,” I mumbled to myself.

Cam smirked. “And that’s why I’m not slowing down.”

I felt my cheeks become flush. Did he forget about my leg? Why was he pushing me so hard?   We walked until I couldn’t see the road. Finally, Cam stopped and propped his bike up with the kick stand. I followed suit and then collapsed onto the ground, sitting with my arms resting on my knees. Every muscle in my body was pulsing and a dull pain began to invade my right calf. I grimaced as I rolled up my legging and tried to massage my leg.

Cam finished unstrapping his bag from his bike before he came and knelt down next to me. “Here, let me see.” He said as I nodded and leaned back, propping myself up with my hands. His eyebrows pinched together as he scanned my leg. He clenched his jaw as he careful grasped my leg. The calluses on his hands were rough against my skin. I sucked in at his touch, my cheeks burning.

“Did I hurt you?” He said without looking up. I couldn’t read his voice.

“Umm, no. You’re good.”

He nodded as he gingerly lifted my leg. He glanced and caught my eyes for a split second, but immediately returned to my leg. His face was pensive as he began to knead my calf. At first, pain was shooting up and down and I tensed my leg, but he kept his rhythm steady and strong despite my squirming. He massaged my calf until the cramp was worked out and then wrapped it in an elastic bandage. He quietly got up without making eye contact with me.

“We should rest. You hungry?” Rummaging through his bag, he pulled out a canteen and two apples.

“Yes, please.”

Handing me an apple, he plopped down next to me. We sat there in silence for a while, long after I finished my apple and threw the core somewhere in the field. Was he OK? Did I do something wrong? I wasn’t quite sure how to read Cam. He was normally relaxed and calm, but other times he was really tense and pensive. I don’t know why I cared so much. I wasn’t sure if I even trusted him. Maybe I was just using him until I found somewhere safe to hide.

Cam took a deep breath in and broke the silence, “Can I ask you a question?”

“Sure.”

“Why didn’t you leave your Lana when your dad died?”

“I don’t know.” I hugged my legs to my chest. “She’s the only family I have left.”

“But she beat you.” His words stung.

“I… I don’t want to talk… about that.” I said, tightening my grip around my legs.

“Yeah, I get it.”

I looked over to him, “Cam, can I ask you a question?”

His eyes crinkled into a smile, “Depends on the question.”

“How did you get that scar?”

He looked down as he clenched his jaw and sighed, “I was in an accident about a year ago.”

“What kind of accident?”

He looked away and rubbed the back of his neck, “Um,” He paused, “the kind I don’t want to revisit right now.”

“Oh.” Embarrassed, I quickly changed the subject. “I like the stars,” I blurted out. I looked up at the sky to see nothing but clouds. I could feel the heat in my cheeks, again. Great.  I fell back against the ground.

I heard him chuckle, “Nice segue.” A moment passed as we stared up at the starless sky. “And thank you.”

I smiled with a pursed grin.

Copyright © 2014 by Jessica Wright