We sent our three off to school again last week. Our youngest two joined our family through adoption. We are a transracial family and therefore quite visibly an adoptive family. Our girls, ages 12 and 8, are quite used to the adoption questions people ask. It helps to rehearse some of those questions and possible answers you might give. We try to teach the girls to keep it light. When in doubt, they should answer, “Why do you ask?” that answer tends to give the questioner a chance to examine their own motives. Asking a question at the end of the response often disarms the questioner and moves the conversation on as well.
Here are a few:
• How much did your parents pay for you?
I’m priceless, but, my parents didn’t pay anything for me. People can’t buy children. Of course, adoption costs money, but that’s not the same as paying for children. “Why do you ask?”
• My mom says you were an orphan.
Sometimes parents can’t take care of children so God provides families for kids. Those families are adoptive families.
• Can you speak your language?
I spoke two languages in Ethiopia, but now I only speak English. How many languages do you speak?
• Is she your real brother?
Nope! She’s my imaginary sister. Elsa and Anna are my real sisters. Actually, all my siblings are my real siblings. Adoptive families are real, just like all families. Why do you ask? Are your siblings real?
• Why didn’t your real mother keep you? How could your own mother give you away?
Sometimes parents can’t take care of children so God provides families for kids. It is really hard for first moms to make adoption plans. Can you imagine how hard it would be if your mom had to make an adoption plan for you?
• I saw something on the news about an adopted kid. (Describes it) Did that happen to you?
Wow! That’s an interesting story. Every adoptive family’s story is different. Did you know that Dave Thomas, the guy who started Wendy’s was adopted?
• What’s it like to be adopted?
Adoption is good and hard sometimes. What do you think it would be like to be adopted?
Marilyn Schottle, the Director of Education and Publications for the Center for Adoption Support and Education has developed W.I.S.E. UP! For children.
W.I.S.E. UP stands for these for these four steps:
W: “Walk away” Don’t say a word, just walk away
I: “It’s private” I don’t want to talk about it.
S: “Share something” Give a quick answer or share something about your adoption if you are comfortable.
E: “Educate” Some people don’t know much about adoption. Teach them something.
Don’t expect that your kids will tell you the questions they get about adoption. Some kids are afraid they’ll hurt our feelings if they share too much. Open the dialogue with them. They’ll be grateful to have some tools to talk about adoption as they return to school.
Have a great school year, parents!