Ten Things Not to Say to Adoptive Parents of Older Kids

So, I’ve frequently written about some of the challenging comments I’ve heard since starting my adoption journey earlier this year.  Some of the most well-meaning, thoughtful, supportive folks say some of the most ridiculous, thoughtless cray things when it comes to adoption.   I was scanning the latest Freshly Pressed blogs today and came across the Ten Things Not to Say to a Pregnant Woman this evening, and thought, “Um, where is the ‘Ten Things Not to Say to Adoptive Parents of Older Kids’????”

Well, here ya go.  Buckle up, this might be fun, but a little bumpy.  Ok, reading my rant, might not be fun at all, but hey, it’s my blog so…

10.  “An older kid?  Why not an infant so you can train it the way you want?

Read this part slowly:  I am not adopting a dog.  Not a dog.  I have a dog, and The Furry One is well trained.   I am adopting a kid.

If I wanted an infant, I’d be adopting an infant.  I have lots of reasons for skipping burp cloths, diaper changes, outrageous daycare expenses, and baby languages.  Some folks don’t yearn for that.  I don’t yearn for that.

I want to have a confab with a kid, now.  Like yesterday.  Like months ago.   So an older kid it is.  They talk.  Ok, tween-esque speak, may or may not be the launch pad for confabs given the propensity for monosyllabic, exasperated speech, but it likely will be better than a gurgle for me.

9.  “Good for you, but I want my own kids.”

Anyone who has read this blog since it launched knows that the own distinction burns my house to the ground every got-dang time I hear it.  I get it, you want to have biological kids (this is the appropriate lingo, by the way).  Cool.  All the best.  I’ll be at the shower with gifts in tow.  I will be so excited for you!  Elated!

I am not having biological kids.  That’s also cool.  My adopted kid may not be my biological kid, but Hope will be my own kid in every way that matters.

Ooh, this one chaps my arse something terrible!

By the way, there will be a shower for Hope.  Does anyone know if Charlotte Russe has a registry?

8.  Why didn’t you consider surrogacy?

Wait.  What?  What the hell?

Because I didn’t.   And, how is this your business, exactly?

Oh and see #10.

7. “Why didn’t you say you wanted to have a baby?  I would’ve made a donation.”

Sigh. If you’re an adoptive parent or just thinking about an about it, here’s a nickel’s worth of advice:   Just delete these folks from your friend list because you probably wouldn’t have slept with them or accepted a donation anyway.

Yeah, I’ve actually heard this one.  It took several glasses of wine to recover from banging my funny bone when I fell over laughing.  I laughed to keep from crying.

By the way, #10, I don’t want a baby.

6. “Your kid is so lucky…”

This probably should be number one because it weighs so heavily on my heart.  Very kind, loving, well-meaning people say it to me every day.   I know it’s supposed to be a compliment, and adoptive parents appreciate what you’re trying to say, but no, my kid isn’t lucky.

On Hope’s path to become my daughter, she lost all the family she has ever known.   Some really, really schnitty stuff happened around her and to her.  She is not lucky, and she needn’t express any gratitude for my loving her.  Finding oneself in the unfortunate place of looking for a forever home ain’t lucky.  It sucks. Yeah, finding a forever home is a beautiful thing, but the path to a forever home is just not lucky.  It is most unlucky.  I am the lucky one; I get to parent this amazing, resilient kid.

Please feel free to rub my arm (or my leg if you’re a cute single dad or dad-wannabe—heyyyy, how you doin?!) and see if my luck translates into a winning lotto ticket or something.  If it does, you owe me half (AdoptiveBlackMom’s ‘luck fee’).

5.  “So what’s the kid’s story?”

My late Granny would have responded thusly, “None-ya.”

It’s my kid’s private business.  Entry #6 has established that it’s likely a schnitty story anyway, you don’t need to know the deets.  The only reason I know the details is because it’s important information that will explain some things and help me learn how to parent my kid successfully.  No one wants or needs to know the trauma our older adoptive kids have survived.

If you want a horror story, I’m sure the offerings on Netflix or Redbox will serve up something worthwhile.

4. “Well, did XYZ happen to her? No?  Then her history can’t be that bad.”

See #6 and #5.  Adoptive kids may not have seen someone get killed or witnessed drug deals go down in the living room, but you can rest assured that finding one’s self in a position to need a new family suggests that some Crazy. Schnitt. Went Down.

Trauma is trauma; one need not aspire to a 4.0 grade trauma when a mediocre 1.9 grade trauma is devastating enough.  Actually, I couldn’t even begin to tell you the difference in the grade rankings.  Just know that whatever it is, it sucked.

3.  “You’d think they would just be giving away ‘those’ kids?”

As I write this list, I’m realizing I might need to upgrade a few of my associations.

Um, no.  They are not giving away older foster kids or any kids.  Why?  Because they are treasured little beings.  And because these kids have already been to hell and back, I need to be vetted within an inch of my life to be eligible to adopt Hope.  It’s a wonder they don’t make us do a Spartan Race or an Iron Man as a part of PRIDE training.  All of that schnitt costs money.  No one is getting rich here.  I’m sure everyone is probably losing money, but I could never put a dollar on Hope’s head.

Adoption: Potentially a bunch of money (not always though).

Adopted kid: Priceless.

2. “Are you sure you’re ready?”

Hell no.

Of course I’m not sure I’m ready.  What new parent thinks they are ready? I have no idea what I’m frigging doing.  I don’t want an infant, but I hear that this whole ‘not being sure I’m ready for mommyhood’ thing is pretty normal.  What I am ready to do is make a commitment to Hope.

I’m guessing like all parents, I’ll figure it out as I go, ask for help when I need it, occasionally have a good cry in the middle of the night and have a glass of red wine from time to time with a long sigh on the patio.

1. Any placement/adoption horror story

Why do people do this?  I mean really, why?  No one wants to hear that.

Hey, I used to judge adoptive parents whose placements were not successful.  I know better now; my heart breaks for those kids and those parents.  You want this to work out; like any relationship, there is a risk that it might not work out.  And there are lots of reasons why placements are or are not successful.  I pray that Hope’s placement with me thrives.

Adoptive parents need positive energy; we don’t want to hear the story of your cousin’s, aunt on her father’s side, you know cousin Gertrude.  You know, she adopted a little boy back in the day and It. Was. Horrible because on a road trip to Jacksonville, Robbie opened the car door and tried to jump out on the freeway. And then CPS came and got Robbie and Gertie went to jail and hell because she let him jump out of the car.

Holy smokes, get out of here with all that.  We manage to put enough pressure on ourselves such that we don’t need any help with pressure application!

So that’s my list for tonight.  I’m sure that there are other things that I could go through the rest of my life without hearing.  Feel free to include a comment about adoption comments that annoy you.

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About AdoptiveBlackMom

I'm a single Black professional woman living in the DC area. I adopted tween a few years ago, and this blog chronicles our journey. Feel free to contact me at adoptiveblackmom@gmail.com, on Facebook at Adoptive Black Mom, and on Twitter @adoptiveblkmom. ©www.AdoptiveBlackMom.com, 2013-2016. All rights reserved. (Don't copy my ish without credit!) View all posts by AdoptiveBlackMom

11 responses to “Ten Things Not to Say to Adoptive Parents of Older Kids

  • justk

    How about, “But you don’t really know what you’re getting” – as if anyone knows what they’re getting with a human being or any other living thing? We’re talking about a person, not a car.

    No matter the route the stork travels to drop off your bundle, you’re getting a blessing that comes with her own destiny – and mind – okay, and mouth (*sigh). Embrace that you get to be a part of the rest of her journey and enjoy the ride.

  • Why this Life is also Miserable | AdoptiveBlackMom

    […] decisions, and no matter how close you are, it isn’t really your business to know anyway.  Don’t say any of this stuff; really, just don’t go there.  Forgive us when we are inelegant and sharp in response to […]

  • Jenna

    As an adoptive mother of 8 children 5-15 (at adoption) thank you for writing this!

  • Carolyn Whiting

    I have six children. Five were adopted and one is biological. My oldest three were adopted as a sibling group, then we adopted two babies, and then we got pregnant. I think that it is true that people are often insensitive in comments to adoptive parents, but I also think you come off here sounding a bit rude and just a little bitter. Or maybe you are just trying to be a little shocking? Idon’t know. I would say that some of these comments could be made to a biological parent as well. People tell kids they are lucky to have their parents all the time. The is nothing wrong with a child feeling grateful for their parents! And we should feel grateful for our kids! And many times expecting parents are asked if they feel ready to have a child! The one comment that does really bother me is the one about kids being your own… I got that a lot. I think it is important to educate people about being sensitive to this issue, but alsoto be sensitive yourself while doing it;)

    • AdoptiveBlackMom

      Thanks for the read Carolyn. You’re absolutely entitled to your opinion, but I also think that you can remember that it is a personal blog about my experiences and some responses are a bit tongue in cheek and a bit of the dialogue that occurs in my head. It is a peek behind the curtain, if you will. Lighten up! 🙂

      I never suggested that I wasn’t grateful for my or any child, nor do I think there is anything wrong with a child being grateful for parents–every child is entitled to parents who will love, cherish and protect them. That said, I think for me, on my journey, which is what this blog is about, having an expectation of expressions of gratefulness from my daughter, at this stage, is not ok for us. A pal reminded me of Alice Walker’s poem Expect Nothing, recently and it was a good reminder. I am sensitive to folks saying it to my daughter, and I politely let them know. And it’s absolutely within my prerogative to do so. This post is about the emotions I feel when I have to engage in that kind of intervention. No lectures needed here.

    • Jenna

      I think there is a difference between being “thankful” for your parents and being “lucky.” My oldest adopted child was 15 at the time of adoption and without going into detail he has suffered more trauma and loss than most people will endure in their lives. I remember people from our church (sincerely) saying how “lucky” he was that we took him in. He smiled and thanked them. Later we talked about what had happened and the more we spoke, the more my skin crawled. No one truly wants to need to be adopted. A child is “lucky” to have 2 bio parents who love them and who are active in their lives, and care for them properly. However, he is “thankful” that although his bio parents weren’t able to we were willing to step in to help guide him into adulthood… BIG difference… I think you were spot on with #6. and FTR, I didn’t think you sounded rude, I thought you were sort of taking it with a grain of salt and adding humor in it as to make it interesting and not dry. I didn’t experience a few of these since I had 4 bio kids first and we started adopting older children because there is such a huge need. However, I enjoyed your perspective very much. =)

      • AdoptiveBlackMom

        Jenna, excellent point on the distinction between luck and gratefulness. Thanks for the back up on my tone–I’m a smart aleck by nature, sometimes tone doesn’t translate for some folks. I write authentically here, and sarcasm isn’t always for everyone . No offense taken, no harm no foul.

  • amorowa

    I like your humor! What about for single parents by choice: ‘I see the need that’s out there, but I think a child should have two parents’

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