It's back to school time with opportunities to meet new families and new faces! Now is the perfect time of year to have teachable moments with your kiddos on how to interact with people and families that possibly look different than your family looks.
As a multi-racial, adoptive family, we receive lots of questions. Some appropriate, some not appropriate.
So, in an effort to help create a teachable moment for your child, here is my list of five re-phrased questions and curiosities we hear as a family as we move about our daily life.
Here’s the 411 on most of these questions: Pause for a moment and think: would you want such a personal question asked from a total stranger to your own children?
1. Actual Question: What happened to their real parents?
We receive this question all the time. In grocery store check out lines, in the park, back to school nights, church, etc… it’s a common curiosity.
If you are curious if my kids have been adopted, that’s fine. Asking a personal question of why a child had to be adopted means my child will relive a trauma/heartache right there in the check-out line of Target.
Better Question: Are you an adoptive family?
Our family understands adoption completely and our kids are able to answer that question on their own without feeling the need to relive their entire past experiences.
2. Actual Question: How much did your children cost?
My kids did not cost a dime… to pay for a child is considered child trafficking. And we are against that.
Adoption requires agencies, social workers, lawyers, plane tickets, lodging, etc… The PROCESS of adoption is expensive.
Better Question: How expensive is the process of adoption?
The Adoption Process is long and intense… this re-phrased question gives us the ability to help a family understand the agencies and resources that are available to help walk them through the adoption process.
3. Actual Question: Did you decide to adopt because you couldn’t have your own real children?
This question makes my kids feel like they were a Plan B. Also, my fertility is not a subject I would like to discuss while my cage-free-eggs are being scanned by the cashier. My kids are my real kids. I cheer them on like a real mom, I wipe their tears like a real mom, I carry Mom-Guilt like a real mom. In all real-ness, I am their real mom and they are my real kids.
Better Question: What made you decide to adopt?
We love talking adoption and this question gives us a great jumping off point to open a discussion.
4. Actual Statement: You are so awesome to give these children a better life.
This statement is so awkward I had a hard time even forcing my computer to type the words. This statement creates a Savior-Mentality in the parents and disregards the awesomeness of my kids. If there is one thing I have lived and learned in these last five years: My kids have given me joy in places I didn’t know were sad. They have brought life to areas I didn’t understand were on life-support. My three kids have given ME a better life.
Better Statement: How awesome that you guys are a family.
We are a typical family and we love talking about our kids. This statement opens the door wide for me to brag on my kids and the unique way our family was created.
5. Actual Question: How on earth did you learn to do their hair?
This question is asked normally by white people. So to my fellow white person: Don’t ask that question. It makes my child think something is wrong with their hair. After years of studying, talking and learning, I have discovered how culturally important it is for me to take proper care of my kids' hair. And I strive to do this. Some days I do well and some days I fail miserably.
Better Statement: Your kids are beautiful.
I agree! Thank you!
Our family is grateful for adoption. We desire to have lovely meaningful conversations with people who might be curious about adoption.
I hope these five questions/statements help arm you with information to guide your child towards a greater understanding of interacting with families that might look different than your family.
Communication is key. Learning appropriate approaches to create dialogue is where the best education is born for our children.