I get it. My family isn’t the typical family made up of mini-me’s. My family has two babies that look identical in age but not in appearance: one is brown with textured-hair, the other is white with straight hair and appears to be my twin. We have two daughters who also have brown skin and textured hair, one even wears a hijab at times. Me and my husband? We are white. And no, we don’t take this parenting-kids-of-color lightly.
Before you stop us in the middle of the grocery store or while I am trying to play at the park with my kids, I’d like you to know these ten things:
1. Yes, these are my kids.
They are every meaning of “real” and “own” that my biological son is. They deserve to be known as my own kids and no one is pretending to be family here: we are a real family. So please, don’t ask if they are my “real” kids, if they are “real’ brothers and sisters, or if I could have my “own.”
Genetics and DNA aren’t needed to make a family, love and commitment are.
2. My children’s birth families are people too.
You don’t need to know or ask about the intricate details as to why my children are now my children. Their birth and biological family members are real people with real stories and a whole bunch of heartache. It does not matter if they have an addiction or an illness or are incarcerated: please stop asking, it is not your business. We love them the same as we love any other part of our family.
3. Adoption is not a means to pregnancy, nor the cure for infertility.
Last I checked, adoption is not a means to get pregnant. However, the amount of times someone has told me “I got pregnant because I adopted” is astronomical. Approximately ⅛ married couples experience infertility and LESS than 3% of all people who adopt will get pregnant — I don’t even know if this takes into account that not all families who adopt are infertile. Studies reveal that the rate for achieving pregnancy after adopting is the same as those who do not adopt.
Not only is this myth false, but it discounts the worth and wantedness of my child via adoption. You reduce his value to a formula that will result in a biological pregnancy.
4. My children are not lucky.
You know what luck is? Winning the lottery. Winning a free pizza. Winning ice cream. Not being adopted or in foster care. Being ripped from your biological roots is not exactly what I call lucky. There is incredible and irrevocable loss infused in adoption; adoption is always born out of immense tragedy.
5. I am not a saint or a hero.
The amount of times we hear this as adoptive (and foster) parents makes me want to pound my head against the wall. We are not saints. Our children are children and every child deserves to be loved in a safe home and family.
I get mad. I get frustrated. I need breaks from my kids. I am no different than you for parenting your biological child: I am not a saint. I am a mom.
We are not in this to save children. You know what the greatest blessing is of this adventure? That these kids enrich our lives and make us better people.
6. Adoption is not just for the infertile.
Did you know that people who can have biological children also choose to adopt? Some people don’t even care to know whether or not they can have biological children, and simply desire to grow their family through adoption.
7. Your questions don’t need answers, so please don’t ask.
When you ask me questions about my child’s story (or their children’s birth family), I scramble in my head for the kindest way to shut you down. This isn’t your business. Especially when my children are present, can you imagine how traumatizing this is? Please don’t ask questions you don’t need answers to.
8. I love them the same.
It’s so true! I love my biological son and my non-biological children the same. I love them all as though I birthed them, as well as though I adopted them. I love them through and through, with a fierce mama-bear love that can never be changed. I would die for each of them if I could. My love is unconditional. I promise. I promise.
9. Don’t pity me or my child.
No one likes pity. Really. We don’t need it. Just don’t. Please. We are real people with real lives, my child is a real child with a real life, we are simply people living life and don’t need pity.
10. Adoption is worth it all.
Adoption is such a process. Whether international, through the foster care system, or infant domestic adoption, it is a process of undoing yourself entirely before a multitude of people. It is vulnerable. It is hard. It is exhausting. It is humbling. But adoption is worth it because adoption has brought me one of my four children, and hopefully more. Adoption is one of the best decisions we have made as a family and it has only made us better people.