Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Gently rephrasing

                I’ve always been told not to click angry (click the mouse), text angry, email angry, etc, the gist being that I am more likely to mess things up and or cause damage to relationships that I would later regret. It is generally good advice I think and I try to live by that.  However, today, I’m going to toss out some ofthat logic and blog frustrated.  As you know we are waiting for that elusive travel call and the longer we wait, the more painful the wait becomes.  While I certainly cannot write on behalf of all adoptive parents, I can speak for manyof them, as we seem to have the same types of questions.  Over the past year+, we have heard a variety of painful questions, generally from well-intentioned, but poorly informed people.  So, I will be using this blogspace for some of the questions and possible ways to rephrase them.  

1.       “Why don’t you just go get that little boy?” The short answer is at this stage in the game that would be considered international kidnapping…enough said.  Why it hurts to hear:  There is an impliedundertone that we just haven’t purchased the plane tickets.  Another option:  Waiting must be so hard; doy ou have an expected travel date yet?


2.      “Are you going to try and have real kids too?”  I promise the little guy we are bringing back is not a blow-up doll. He is real.  We are counting on the fact that he will be real, that we can laugh with him, have adventures with him, and grow as a family. Why it hurts to hear: we will be a complete family regardless if we every have biological children or not.  If you are really that curious, please use the word biological in lieu of “real.” Another option:  How do you plan on growing your family?


3.      “Are you going to encourage your child to have contact with his real mom or dad?” Again, I promise that we will be his real parents, because we will take him to activities, feed him, cloth him, clean up puke, etc.  Why it hurts to hear:  there is an assumption that we don’t love him or aren’t a complete family because we are not biologically related.  Another option:  How do you plan on handling questions and possible relationships with your child’s biological family?


4.      “Why can’t family or close friends come for a visit right after you bring him home?”   The agency and our social worker have recommended that we wait 6-8 weeks before allowing guests to come.  This is to encourage our child to bond with us, to build a trust with us, that as his parents, we will help keep him safe, fed, etc.  This is different than bringing a newborn home.  A newborn, you can pass around the room and he or she is indifferent to who is doing the holding.  A toddler that has just arrived at the house however, is trying to figure out who mom and dad is and additional adults could complicate that.  Remember,he has been in a temporary home since he was born.  All that he knows has been pulled out from underneath him.  Why it hurts: we desperately want those grandparents, aunts, uncles and close friends to be a part of our son’s life.  We know those folks are anxious to meet the little guy and we don’t want people to assume we are excluding them long-term, we just have to do what is best for him. Another option:  We are so excited to meet your little guy and be a part of his life, but will gladly wait until you think he is ready to meet us.  As soon as we get the green light from you, we are buying plane tickets! J


5.      “When are you going to tell him that he is adopted?”  We’ll begin talking about his adoption in the first year we have him home, as we want that to be an open topic and we don’t want to hide that from him. Of course, we will focus on being age appropriate with the information we provide.  T o me, this is a silly question as there will be obvious physical differences that we couldn’t hide from him, even if we wanted too.  Why it hurts to hear: because of the assumption that we would withhold information from him and/or leave it up to chance.  We want him to hear things from us not a well-intentioned adult or child. This is his story. Another option:  How will you discuss the story of his adoption with him?


6.      “Why aren’t you keeping his Korean name?”  For one, we would have a hard time pronouncing it correctly. J  Secondly, if we were having a biological child we wouldn’t give him or her a Korean name.  Third, as a young toddler, moving to a new country, learning a new language etc, it won’t be difficult at all for him to learn his new name. Why it hurts to hear:  What parents want to be questioned on the name chosen for a child?  Another option: What is the significance of the name you chose?  Or how did you go about choosing this name?


7.      “I can’t wait until he is home so that I can show off pictures.”  Sorry, but this is about us, as a couple, becoming a family of 3. Why it hurts to hear: our son is not for show and tell and as far as the waiting game goes, it isn’t about others. The waiting game is hard enough on us without having the added pressureto have him home on someone else’s timeline. Another option: I can’t wait until he is home so that you all can start your life together.


I’m very fortunate that I have somany friends who are in this waiting game with me.  They are so supportive and reassure me that despite what I think on some days, we will have him home before he is 16 and ready for the prom.  Like I mentioned previously, many of these questions come from well-intentioned people, but words sometimes hurt.  Please love on those waiting to adopt very gently;  they usually don’t have a due date, just a time frame, big dreams and aching arms.


  1. What a lovely post. It's funny the things people say when they don't think things through. I did have to laugh though about people asking you if you were going to tell your son he was adopted! I'm pretty sure you should just say NO. Also thanks for not kidnapping your son. I really don't want to have to bail you out of Korean Jail!

  2. I've already decided that if someone asks if his dad is Korean, I'm going to say one of them is :) Korean Jail doesn' sound appealing to me either.

  3. Very well stated, my friend. Thanks for sharing your heart with us.
    Love you, Linds