Monday, October 8, 2012

A Chip that Needs to be Removed

I have been a mama for twelve, going on thirteen, years.  I have fielded a million questions, stares, and even a few criticisms in that period of time.  I went in to mommyhood prepared, I thought, but I quickly realized that I had much to learn...and still do.

Adopting transracially just magnifies the curiosity of others.  I knew that.  Adopting transracially means we are visible and vulnerable and our children are going to have to answer questions that their peers may not.  It also means we, as parents, have to protect our children in ways that other parents may not.

The problem is when we, the parents, take on a perceived offense.  It happens so easily.

"Is he yours? "  (Yes, he is.)

"Are you her real mom?"  (Yes, I am.)

"Are they brother and sister...really?"  (Yes they are...really.)

These questions can cause us to bristle, and understandably so.  When they are asked within earshot of our children, and obviously without regard to their hearts, it can be extremely difficult to be gracious.  I try to be short, sweet, and to the point while hopefully educating them a bit on the beauty and blessing of adoption.

In reading a myriad of books and blogs I have noticed, recently, a common complaint among adoptive parents.  It is often the result of the statement "Your kids are so lucky/blessed to have you/be adopted/be yours, etc."  I have read of parents responding indignantly...
"My kids are not blessed, they have lost everything.  They have been through trauma, death, abuse, etc., etc.  We are the ones who are blessed to be their parents."

But I can't understand why that response is necessary.  Why would we want to dampen their enthusiasm and inform them of all the baggage the child carries?  How does that serve them well?  In doing so, it teaches the children to carry a chip on their shoulder.  It teaches them that they will always be marked...different...because they came from a hard place.  It teaches a sense of entitlement that is not healthy for any child.  We, as Christians, are taken from death to life and we are now identified with Christ.  Our children, in the beautiful shadow of the Heavenly truth that is adoption, have lived out in a physical way that reality.  Are there scars?  Yes.  Are there battles to be fought?  You bet.  But are they blessed to have a family now, even though it didn't come easily?  Of course.  They are blessed and to try to say otherwise downplays the work God has done.   God has redeemed their lives.  He has put them in a place where they have a chance to heal.
It doesn't mean we don't inform those who need to know of correct ways to handle their behaviors.  Some kids do have major baggage and it can greatly affect their day to day life.  Mari, for instance, struggles with attention seeking behaviors that increase exponentially in a group setting like a Sunday School class.  So I must inform her teacher of her tendency and tell her the best way to deal with it from day one so that Mari has consistency and knows that she is accountable for her actions whether mom and dad are present or not.  The rules have to be the same at home and in public.  But when a well-meaning stranger is just being kind...just wanting to smile and say "I admire what I see here" and tell you so...we just need to be nice.  Don't get riled up over semantics.  Just smile back and say something like "Thank you, but we are the ones who are blessed to have these sweet kids."

Be a light.  Be joyful.  Be gentle.

Remove the chip and relax.  Most people have the best of intentions.  In fact I have found that many of them are curious because they have considered adoption.  We sure don't want to discourage that!


  1. Yes ma'am! Being fairly new to the adoption world with a 19 month old who can't understand just yet what people are saying, I am interested to find out how this momma reacts when he is old enough to understand. My favorite, or not favorite really, is when people ask about his "real" mom. I immediately reply with, "well his birthmom"...Some immediately get it and others are oblivious. Lord help me! I have a chip squarely rested and probably need to work now on how to respond to people considering we'll have little miss home next year from China! Oy! Thanks for making me think!

  2. Kristin, I have had every reaction you can imagine...good, bad and ugly! Some people are just completely ignorant and I just want to scream "did you really just say that in front of my child???" But I think most of the time people are truly a sweet way...and don't really know how to phrase their question because it is new to them. When they ask about their "real mom" I let them know, nicely, that I am their real mom. If they persist, I have responded by saying those are personal details that my children do not feel comfortable with me sharing. The person ALWAYS takes a step back, saying, "Oh, of course." If they are asking because they are considering adoption, I offer to share emails/phone #'s so we can talk more fully.


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