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Adoption Blog: Our Family Grows With Love

He’s Our Son, Not Our Adopted Son



Sometimes I wish people didn’t know that we adopted our son.

This thought isn't born of being ashamed of our status as an adoptive family. I am exceptionally proud that our family was built through adoption. I enjoy sharing our son's adoption story with him. We love visits with and updates from our son's birth family. I have become involved with writing about adoption, which I find incredibly enjoyable. Friends have asked me to talk to family members, friends, and friends of friends about adoption. I find it very fulfilling to be viewed as a resource to others who are exploring adoption for their families. I have spoken to both birth families and adoptive families. My ability to speak from the perspective of an adopted child as well as an adoptive mother offers me this unique opportunity. So, no, I don't really want to hide the fact that our son was adopted. But at times, it would be nice if people didn't know.

This thought cropped up because of something that took place during the recent holidays. At an informal gathering one night, someone asked us if we had heard from "that girl" for Christmas. I was incredibly stunned, and at first tried to pretend as if I didn't know to whom this person was referring. (Actually, I truly wouldn't have known if this person hadn't asked similar questions on previous occasions.) I sat there with a confused look on my face, playing dumb, if for no other reason to buy myself some time to think about how I wanted to respond. My normally loquacious husband had suddenly been struck mute, so I was on my own! I finally said, "Do you mean Max's birthmother?" I was assured that, yes, this person did mean Max's birthmother. I explained that we had a visit planned for mid-January and changed the subject.
 
I was disheartened by this exchange for several reasons. Referencing our son's birthmother as "that girl" was problematic for my husband and I, and we discussed that fact with this person in a later conversation. (Look for an upcoming blog post about that conversation.)
 
But one of the biggest reasons has to do with the perception of our family. Growing up as an adopted child, I don't know how people perceived our family. We lived in a fairly small town, so I assume most people knew that my siblings and I were adopted. Our parents went from having no children to having three children from the ages of three to five, so it was fairly obvious, but I don't remember hearing any comments about being adopted or ever being made to feel differently because of that fact. Maybe it happened and I just don't remember it. Maybe our parents protected us from these types of comments. Maybe, because adoption was not as openly discussed as it is now, people didn't ask questions or make comments. However people perceived our family, to me, my family was my family. The same is true of our son. He came to us through adoption, but we simply see him as our son. If people didn't know he was adopted, they would see him the same way.
 
Does the person who asked about "that girl" look at us and see our son's adoption first, and our family second? This person loves and adores Max, so I have to believe that isn't the case. Yet I still wonder why this question was asked.
 
Sometimes I think people ask nosy adoption questions out of curiosity. This may be especially true for people who are not familiar with adoption, not to mention open adoption. Sometimes I think we are so open about our son's adoption that people feel license to ask very personal questions. (Though we are open about the fact that our son was adopted, we are careful not to share personal information regarding his adoption story. Those details belong to him.) Sometimes I just think people don't think before they speak.
 
I don't know why people ask questions like this, and I guess it doesn't really matter. Though others may see our son as adopted first and our son second, we see him only as our son. We look at our son and see the little boy who loves the train set that Santa brought, the little boy who considers Play-Doh the finest art form, the little boy who thinks all is right with the world if he can watch an episode of Little Einsteins. We see the little boy we tuck into bed every night and get good morning kisses from every morning. We see the little boy who is growing up way too fast, right before our eyes. Yes, this little boy is our son through and through. He is ours, and we are his.


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8 Comments

What a great post! My husband and I adopted our daughter nine months ago and feel the same way as you! We are certainly not ashamed of adoption, but sometimes we feel that our family is undermined in some way when people start asking questions….as if our daughter isn’t really “ours” and she is ours! I usually just tell myself that I am being too sensitive….but the truth is….that’s the way I feel. Thank you for the post:)

By Bianca on Saturday, January 14, 2012 at 4:15 pm.

Bianca,

Thank you for your feedback! Oh yes, these children truly are ours! I am glad you enjoyed the post!

By Maximilian's Mommy on Monday, January 16, 2012 at 5:04 am.

I have had so many “crazy” comments and questions, that I no way could remember them all.  I really have not thought about how they see our children, it doesn’t seem to matter to me, and as we talk about adoption when it comes up (often), I have not yet had a comment or even sensed a sad or confusing thought from my children (we are a transracial family we’re W they are B, age 7 and 9).  I usually can sense where the question is coming from, there are times, I answer when the kids are not with me and I probably should not have.  Though, that seems to be the way I am.  It seems to me if our children are loved and feel good about themselves that’s what should matter.  We are open, well my husband is a quiet guy and our kids are open, though the whole “adoption” thing is not a big deal to them at all.  Other then a funny story or two I know about when they we’re with their fosterparents and a few things I know about the birthmother.  I do agree, their story is for them to tell.  Though, part of me thinks, adoption has and still seems to have this “ohh, we better not ask” almost a “keep it quiet connotation”.

It may be because I’m also a birthmom from an open adoption, 29 yrs. ago!!  I was shipped away and surely thought I should be!  Though God blessed all of us when I found out about an agency that was just starting open adoption!  Now, I’m a birthgrandmother too, and we visited my BD and her family this summer.  That’s probably why I talk about it more openly,  we all have our own stories and walks.  Life is fleeting, I don’t want to waste the energy on thinking what do they think or how should I respond, whether a stranger or a family member, we and I can choose who will be in our lives. 

Here’s a story that I love:  I was at the “Y” with my son and a girl about 12 asked very politely, “Oh, are you his Mom?”  “Yes”  “Why do you have different color skin?”  “He’s adopted”  She paused and contemplated, “Does his Dad have his color skin?” “No, his skin is my color”  She became very quiet, my son was running around, but as to not have him hear (he was about 3yrs old) she whispered “Ohhhh, do you think you will tell him he’s adopted?”  “Well I think he’ll know!” as I pointed to my skin.  She said, “Oh, yea that’s right!” and we both laughed!    Katie

By Kt. L. on Tuesday, January 17, 2012 at 11:45 am.

I often feel the same way. Adoption comes with a mixed bag of emotions sometimes and that’s ok. I would take a million nosy questions questions a day if it meant I got to be my daughters mom! Some of the world may look at us and see adoption, but, we look at each other and see family!

By Kel.Nic. on Tuesday, January 17, 2012 at 8:43 pm.

Nice was to sum it all up, Kel.Nic.!  To think you said what I was trying to say in 4 sentences is encouraging (and I mean that seriously).  I guess I’ll just have to blame it on the Irish in me!

Katie

By Kt. L. on Tuesday, January 17, 2012 at 11:28 pm.

I am the half sister of a little girl who was put up for adoption seven or eight years ago. To tell you the truth I dont know how old she is or what her birthday is and I have only seen her once.

My mom is mentally ill and so is the birth father. Despite that niether of them were drug users or horrible people. They were just sick with a hereditary illness that has been in our family for generations.

I came to this forum looking for emotional support. I have always been very distressed about not having my siblings in my life because it means so much to me to have family.

After reading your post I cant help but wonder what adopted children think of their biological siblings and parents.

I would never change what happened with the closed adoption because now my little sister has a fighting chance. Still it was the lesser of two evils because in a selfish way I want to be there to watch her grow up.

She doesnt even know I am alive or that I think about her all the time or that her biological mother truely didnt want to give her up.

By Hollywood141 on Tuesday, March 27, 2012 at 6:17 am.

Hollywood141,
I am glad you found this forum and hope that you are able to find the support you are looking for.
I can only speak to my own experience in terms of how adopted children feel about biological siblings and parents, so please understand that my response is based only on my own personal experience.
My situation was a bit different because all of my biological siblings along with myself were placed for adoption. It sounds like maybe your parents parented some of their children and others were placed for adoption? So in terms of my feelings about my siblings..some of my siblings I know and grew up with and of ongoing relationships with. Some I dont know at all. I will speak to the matter of the siblings I dont know. I am hopefully they have fulfilling lives, full of love and family. I am hopeful they grew up in a loving, healthy home, where they were well cared for and provided for. I would love the opportunity to meet them some day just to hear about their lives and to know they are okay.
In terms of my birth parents..that situation sounds a little more similar to your sisters situation. Both of them were mentally ill, but unlike your parents, they were alcoholic drug addicts as well. My feelings about them have changed over the years as I have gotten older. In my younger years it was hard to wrap my mind around the situation. If they cared about me at all, wouldnt they have figured out a way to get their lives on track? Now that I am an adult, while those feelings will always be part of how I feel about them, I have a better understanding that their problems may not have been fixable. They may not have had the resources available to them to get the assistance they needed to address their issues. Maybe it was all just too much. I am more accepting of their situation and the way it impacted their children as an adult than I was when I was a child. Though I do think there will always be some degree of negativity for me toward them. But, please understand that this isnt related to the adoption. This negativity is due to the fact that we suffered a great deal of abuse at my birth fathers hands, and that my birth mother packed up and left us to remove herself from the situation but left all of her children behind to continue suffering. So I guess what I am saying is that each situation and each person is unique in their feeling about their adoption experience. For me personally, if the abuse had not been part of our story,  and my birth parents simply were not able to parent I think my feelings would be more positive. Additionally, and oddly enough, my feelings toward my birth father are different than those toward my birth mother. For me,  I appreciate that fact that my birth father, with the understanding that he was not capable of parenting, took us to childrens services for placement. I cant respect that my birth mother decided to save herself and not herself AND her children both. So each situation is so unique. I hope this response is somewhat helpful.

By Maximilian's Mommy on Wednesday, March 28, 2012 at 2:58 pm.

Thanks for your perspective on your birth parents. I can say that as a non adopted child of two mentally ill parents some times I hold resentment towards them. I dont think parental resentment is specific to adopted children. There are many parents who abuse there children and never even consider adoption as an alternative. In many ways I hope my sister never has to deal with the things I have been through.

My concern was that my little sister was safe well cared for and who doesnt feel ostrisized because she is adopted. I want her to know that she comes from a nice proud family who are good people. I want her to know that even if we have our faults she doesnt have to be ashamed of genetics.

I also worry about since Bipolar and schizophrenia are hereditary (my mom had her first episode at 14) how her adoptive parents are going to deal with it. Who is going to be there and talk her through it when they have no idea of what could possibly a wait them.

It was a closed adoption so I cant really contact her. At times I am at a loss for what is best for her. While I know I am a good person there is a certain amount of jeolousy and possessiveness that goes along with raiseing a child. I would never lead her down the wrong path but whose to say the adoptive parents who really dont understand the situation are over protective and would rather me keep silent. I am thinking of avoiding drama. At the same time I dont want my sister to feel unloved and think oh my sister never wanted to contact me. I am 22 years old and she is 8 when she was born I was 16.

There is a stigmatism that goes along with adoption. That the birth family must be horrible people and I cant seem to get over it. It must be a struggle for you as I can see from your story that people condemn the birth parents. Which is really sad because genetics is genetics and despite nurture that child is always going to have the same eye tone the same hair color the same skin tone and the same physical and mental capabilities as the birth parents.

Who is that person to insult the birth mother knowing that child was born of the same seed so to speak.

By Hollywood141 on Wednesday, March 28, 2012 at 11:53 pm.

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Maximilian's Mommy

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