Like the common cold, occurrences of adoption stereotypes happen when you least want or expect them to–which in a perfect world would be never. And while you can never quite prepare yourself for these unwanted interactions with oftentimes uninformed or misinformed individuals, you should know that the perfect response is often no response at all. It’s true. Just because an individual feels she has the right to lob an incorrect, rude, or hurtful comment your way doesn’t mean you need to take the bait. Stink eye, for example, sometimes says more than words ever could. But, should you feel up to putting your thoughts into words, here are some common adoption stereotypes and responses.
But, I’ve heard that adopted kids have issues, aren’t you worried? This was said to me once (okay more than once and by many different people over the years), but once by a woman whose biological apple of her eye was on medication for a variety of, well, issues that were interfering with everything from her grades to her social skills. Most of the other people, too, were raising children with issues, but I guess because their children had come out of their Grade A wombs, their issues were more manageable and acceptable. At any rate, just about all kids have issues of one kind or another–adopted or not. Come to think of it, a lot of grownups have issues as well, oddly enough never having experienced adoption a day in their lives. A simple and easy response to this one is, “Don’t we all?”
Aren’t you afraid they’re going to look for their real family?
Maybe I’m scarier looking than I’d like to think, but I don’t get this one much or at least to the degree it comes across in a rude manner. Still, a while back, our real estate agent patted me on the back one night while we were signing paperwork on our house–I guess she felt we’d bonded enough to share such things–and assured me she knew of this one adoptive family where the daughter turned out just fine and never showed an interest in her real mom and managed a good relationship with her adoptive mom. First of all, adoptive families are real. At least, last time I checked. I might need to give that realtor a call to confirm, though, so hang on a minute.
I get it, not everybody knows or uses adoption language and that’s fine, but the term “real” well, that’s sort of a biggie. And while behind closed doors, my girls know that if they choose to search for their biological family some day I’ll be there to support them every step of the way, they also know our relationship is as real as it gets, sans the labels. For this one, if I could go back in time, I’d probably ask my realtor to pinch me on the arm and then exclaim Pinocchio-style, “I”m real! I’m a Real Mom!”
Did she (birth mom) do drugs?
It’s difficult to explain to people of a certain mindset that unplanned pregnancy happens to women of all races, classes, and religions, from remote villages to prominent suburbs, and believe it or not, not all birth moms do drugs. In fact, many of them may have never so much as lit a cigarette or swallowed a drop of alcohol–or have the means or access to drugs. While there are, of course, instances of substance abuse leading to children being removed from a home and placed into foster care and/or resulting in a birth mom not being able to care for her baby from the start–that is just one of the very many reasons why a birth mom might choose, or in some cases, feel she has no other choice, but to place her child for adoption. I’ve personally never done drugs (I know, a boring goody-two shoes), but I know an awful lot of progressive types who consider themselves to be open-minded people that have, but also love to ask judgey questions like this one. For them, I’d just turn the tables a bit and ask, “Have you?” And for the more tightly wound type, “I heard she was hooked on Flintstones Vitamins.”
You will never love an adopted child like will your own.
By your own, of course, they’re talking fruit of thy/they/thee–ahhhh, your loins, as they who came up with such oddball phases used to say. I guess technically since I’ve never had thy/they/thee–ahhh, my own, according to the above definition of “own,” I’m technically unable to dispute the claim. However/still/BUT (and a big but at that), I did happen to grow up as the fruit of someone else’s loins and will base my comparison on that technically acceptable relationship. Yes, you really can love an adopted child like you can your own because, well, my adopted children are my own. Perhaps the person making the statement has a heart made of stone and is incapable of loving anything she can’t take full credit for (perhaps we’re talking issues stretching back to a kindergarten art class gone wrong), but the truth is, if you’re human and you’re into opening your heart and home to a child who wants and needs a family–the love part comes pretty easily and naturally. To this person I’d say, “Then you better not try because I’ve heard adopted kids have issues, tend to search for their real families, and their moms do drugs.” No. No. No. I wouldn’t say that. I may be a bit sarcastic, but even I have my limits. No, this would probably be a perfect time to give a huge helping of the stink eye and walk in the other direction.