Week 10 + Adoption Misconceptions

Hello all! I hope you are enjoying this gorgeous holiday weekend! What a blessing to have sunshine and warmth after some dreary days this week.

Unfortunately, there is not much to update you with this week! In fact, this has been the most non-adoption focused week we’ve had since the beginning. It felt weird and it was also a breath of fresh air to focus on other things.

We did touch base with our social worker this week- she has our home study done!!! BUT- it can’t be finalized yet. She is waiting on clearances from the state (we had them done beginning of March) which are needed for the finalization. She got in touch with the state and, surprise- they are backed up due to the state shut down. Of course. 🙂 So we wait.

She has no idea how long it will take the state to get caught up and send the clearances. We’re praying it is sooner rather than later. At this point we can’t do anything-which is frustrating. All the next steps depend on our home study. Our biggest prayer request at this point is that clearances would come through soon. We know God’s timing is far superior to ours and we keep telling ourselves our baby just isn’t ready for us yet!

Since our update this week is short and sweet, I thought I’d take some time to also write about and dig into some common adoption misconceptions. One of the books our social worker recommended right away was “In On It: What Adoptive Parents Would Like You to Know About Adoption” by Elisabeth O’Toole.

I devoured this book in about two days and took SO many notes. I learned A TON and would highly, highly recommend it to anyone that knows someone who was adopted- whether it be a friend, family member, or acquaintance. It really helps shed light on what adoption means- not just for the child- but all the people in a child’s life. If you’re not the reading type, see below for my summarized version of 9 common adoption misconceptions:

  1. Only Adoptive Parents Grieve: FALSE- If adoption is taking place due to infertility, many understand that the parents have gone through some sort of grieving process- grieving what their bodies can’t do, grieving the loss of the experiences of pregnancy/childbirth, and grieving the loss of a child that won’t share genes and DNA with them. BUT, beyond the parents grief, it’s also common for family and friends to grieve this ‘imagined’ child as well. Grandparents often look forward to seeing family genes passed on, seeing a grandchild that looks like their child, etc… it’s important for family and friends to understand that their own grief is okay and expected.
  2. Adopted Children Won’t Share Family Traits: FALSE- this is one of the bigger things I am/was worried about. What kinds of things will family/friends say that will point out that our child is ‘not’ biologically connected to us? How often are you at family dinners and you hear, ‘Oh your baby has the same eyes as you!‘ or ‘That is such a Smith face!’. Those are normal things to say, but when you have an adopted child as part of your family, it’s important to realize how those comments can come across. I was reassured to read that adoptive children CAN share family traits (nature vs. nurture) and it’s SO important that family and friends point them out. Children NEED to be reassured they belong. We hope you’ll tell our adopted child, ‘You have a sense of humor just like your dad!’, ‘Your obsessed with shoes just like your mom!’, ‘You’re such a Smith- you love sweets!’, or ‘You’re a daredevil- definitely a Parlmer’!
  3. Adoptive Parents Never Miss Their ‘Old’ Life: FALSE-we are not just adoptive parents, we will be new parents just like every other couple that has a new baby. There will be times we long for our ‘old’ life where we could pack up and go. We’ll wonder if we made the right choice. We’ll regret sleepless nights. I was reassured to read that these feelings are normal and expected for ANY new parent. Just because we adopted doesn’t mean we’ll never have doubts or regret. It might be easier for us to cherish some of those moments we’ve waited so long for, but it doesn’t dismiss the fact that parenting is hard and new and life changing.
  4. You Won’t Experience Postpartum Depression: FALSE-I’ve already heard comments like ‘lucky you, you’ll get the reward without the labor and delivery!’ Most days I let that comment roll off my shoulders and secretly agree that it will be a blessing not having to give birth! However, it’s also something I’d love to experience and those comments highlight, once again, what my body can’t do. Since I won’t have pregnancy hormones most assume Postpartum Depression also doesn’t apply. However, every adoption book I’ve read so far cautions mothers to be on the look-out for PAD: Post Adoption Depression. It’s a real thing-for similar and different reasons than Postpartum Depression. Check in with adoptive mothers you know and look for signs that they might be struggling. I’m so thankful I already have a counselor and we’re already working through some of the thoughts/feelings that come with adoption.
  5. Adoptive Parents Are An Open Book: FALSE- we are very open people. You ask us something and we’ll likely give you the truth and nothing but the truth. In fact, my entire blog experience has been about being open and honest. However, our social worker and many books have already told us to make a ‘Privacy Plan’. There are things we won’t share about our child’s birth mom/family, genetics, family history, etc…There are things we won’t tell. When our child is older, we will give them that information and allow them to choose who to share it with. If you ask us a question in the future and we respond with, ‘That’s not our information to tell’, know that we’re not being rude, we’re protecting our child.
  6. As Soon as You Adopt You’ll Get Pregnant: FASLE- this one makes my blood boil. I can’t tell you how many times (so many) I’ve heard this comment and it takes all I have within me not to snap. I usually smile politely and change the topic. Adoption is not a strategy to get pregnant. We know most people say this comment without even realizing what they’re implying, but it’s very dismissive and disrespectful of our coming child. It’s like saying, ‘this child that is coming is great, but wouldn’t it be even better if you could have a biological child?!’ Fact: only 5% of people get pregnant after adoption. If that happens, great! But don’t count on it.
  7. Your Child is Lucky to be Adopted/Have You: FALSE- adoption is the result of a less-than-ideal situation. No child should ever have to leave their mother. When you tell our child they are ‘lucky’ to be adopted- it discredits their birth mom/family. They begin to think something is wrong with their birth mom and we are, for some reason, ‘better’. It gives our child the expectation that they should be grateful we ‘rescued’ him/her. It puts a lot of pressure on the child. If anything, we will be the ‘lucky’ ones to have this child. We will be forever grateful for the mom that chose life and chose us. We know none of this is luck, it’s God’s divine plan.
  8. The Birth Mom is the Real Mom: FALSE- we are both real moms. If you ask me, ‘Who is the real mom?’, I’ll say ‘Me’. I’m not a fake mom. But the child’s biological mother is also a real mom. To distinguish between me and the biological mother, the term ‘birth mom’ is most commonly used. Some families refer to the birth mom as the child’s ‘first mom’. Regardless, words make a big difference in an adoptive family. Without our child’s mother, we won’t have a child. She will be talked about and recognized in a loving, positive way in our home. Our child will be blessed to have two moms and will know why each one is special.
  9. Referring to Our Child as ‘Adopted’ is the Norm: FALSE- when we introduce our child we won’t say, ‘this is our adopted son’. We will say, ‘this is our son’. We ask the same of our family and friends. Don’t refer to our child as your adopted grandchild, your adopted niece/nephew, your adopted friend. Our child will be a normal grandchild, niece, nephew, and friend. We don’t introduce people as our ‘left-handed’ friend or our ‘short nephew’. Adopted refers to how they came into our family- it doesn’t define them as a person. In the same way- I’m not going to be an adoptive mother. I’m going to be a mother.

I hope these misconceptions help you better understand adoption and shed some light on the topic. PLEASE know, if you’ve said any of these things or are ‘guilty’ of some of the above- it’s NORMAL. I was totally unaware of the appropriate words, things to say, etc… until I was in this situation. I’m just as guilty! But, knowledge is power and that is why we share! Adoption is such a beautiful process and yet a process that is so unique. We are so thankful for those of you have come to join us on this journey and have jumped in with both feet.

HOPEFULLY, we’ll have more news to share next week, but until then- remember: we’re ALL adopted sons and daughters in Christ!