This is a blog post (most of it, anyway) taken from the blog Single Dad Laughing. If you haven't read it... give it a try.
This is something that EVERYONE should read. No... really.
Courtesy of Single Dad Laughing at http://www.danoah.com/2010/09/how-much-did-your-kid-cost.html
What do you notice about this photo?
Hopefully you just see a father and son. Maybe you see a beautiful bond. Maybe you see love. Maybe you see two awesome human beings. Hopefully you don’t see a damn price tag hanging from Noah’s ear or a child who will never know true happiness.
You see, today when I was at the store with Noah, somebody had the nerve to ask me, right in front of Noah, “how much did he cost?” And this was the second time somebody has asked that absolutely ridiculous and insensitive question to me; I know his mom has heard it too.
You may have noticed that Noah is of a slightly different race than his old man. He’s a quarter Panamanian, quarter Jamaican, and half Caucasian. Noah is my son. Noah was adopted. Trust me, I couldn’t pass on genetics to a kid this beautiful.
And since he was placed with us, his parents, I have learned just how insensitive the world can be to kids who have been placed through adoption. People don’t realize how fragile the minds of young children are. People don’t realize that wording things certain ways can hurt a child, and badly. And with that, I present to you the following list, all taken from personal experiences in the past three years:
Single Dad Laughing’s Guide to Adoption Etiquette:
Never, ever, ever, ask how much a child costs. This includes the phrase, “how much did you pay for him?” First of all, it’s none of your business. Second of all, if you’re interested in adoption, research it through the appropriate channels. Speak with an adoption agency. Adoptive parents don’t purchase children. They simply pay legal fees and agency fees. Just like biological parents pay hospital and doctor bills. Don’t turn the child into nothing more than a commodity.
Never ask if a celebrity inspired the adoption. Believe it or not, Tom Cruise, Connie Chung, and Angelina Jolie did not convince me one way or the other in the biggest decision of my life. Are you serious?
Never ask “where is his real dad?” Forget the fact that it will hurt my feelings. How do you think it will affect my son’s feelings to feel like I’m not a real dad to him? Adoptive parents arereal parents. The term you’re looking for is “birth mother” or “birth father”.
Don’t say things like, “as soon as you adopt you’re going to get pregnant” when you find out somebody is adopting. First of all, there are usually many, many years of pain and financial burden strapped to infertility, treatments, and heartache. Do you really think that what you’re saying will help them? Secondly, while it is funny when it happens, it’s rare.
Never say, “why did she give him away?” Do I really need to explain why this one would hurt a child? The proper term is “placed”. A birth mother and birth father place their child for adoption. And again, it’s personal and none of your business, so don’t ask if you aren’t my BFF.
Don’t say, “it’s like he’s your real son”. This is similar to number three, but worthy of mentioning. He is my real son, damn it.
Don’t say, “do you love him as if he was your own?” Ummm… probably more than you love your little terror, that’s for sure. And again… he is my own, damn it.
Never say things like, “you’re so wonderful to adopt a child”. I am a parent. Just like anybody else with kids.
Don’t start spewing your horrible adoption stories. “This one time, my friend’s sister’s aunt’s dog’s previous owner’s niece adopted a baby and the real dad came back and they took the baby away after they had him for two years.” First of all, it probably isn’t true. Second of all, how would you feel if I told you about all the ways you could lose your child. Adoption is permanent. And in the extremely rare circumstances that something like that happens, it’s not something you should spread because the hurt that exists for all the parties involved must be immeasurable.
Don’t say things like, “is it hard for him to be adopted?” Well, it wasn’t, until you asked me that right in front of him.
I don’t want to hear about your second cousin who was on a waiting list for twelve years and never got a baby. Granted, this one was much more annoying when we were going through the adoption process. Nobody wants to know that some people never get chosen. Show some kindness. Especially to those who you know might have a long wait ahead of them.
That’s all I can think of right now, but I know there are more. Just be sensitive. Don’t put your nose where it doesn’t belong. Respect my father-son relationship for what it is and don’t lessen it. Don’t talk about my son like he’s not even there or too little to understand. Or do, if you’re okay with a swift kick to the face.
I understand that I’m not being super politically correct here, but I’m a little bit ticked off about what happened today. And understandably, so is the old woman I sent away with a major grunt of disapproval. I know she meant no harm.
Dan Pearce, Single Adoptive Dad Laughing
Now I'm going to answer his question "What do you notice about this photo?"
What I notice is a handsome man and an equally handsome little boy who look very happy and relaxed. The little boy has skin that glows and looks as if he's been dipped in honey. He's absolutely GORGEOUS. The man looks happy and proud. That's it. It didn't enter my mind that he might be adopted and even if he was... what would be the point of asking? It's rude and hurtful to be singled out and reminded that you look different from those around you.
I know that this is going to happen with Crista. There will be (at some point) the inevitable questions and comments. It's true that her facial features are very similar to mine and her eyes are a beautiful deep brown like her father and brothers' eyes. But where we are all pale and pink, Crista is lovely and golden skinned.
Which is actually funny since we live in Texas and there is a large Hispanic population here. She doesn't stand out at ALL. People assume she's Hispanic. lol She's not, btw. Ethnically, she's Roma (or Romany, Romani... Gypsy, if you will).
None of that is really important to anyone except us, though. To us, she's our little Bulgarian beauty... our golden girl, our precious daughter. We love her and she loves us. That's all that should matter to anyone outside of our family and close friends.
We're proud of our daughter's heritage and love the country where she was born. I never imagined that I would do more than just enjoy a visit to a foreign country... that I would ever fall completely in love with another culture, but I did. Bulgaria is the most amazing place and the Bulgarian people are (in general) kind, generous, and welcoming people. Please don't think I'm looking at Bulgaria through rose colored glasses of naivete. I'm not. Bulgaria is an eastern European, post-Soviet country that has been through an enormous amount of upheaval since the fall of the Soviet Union. It is one of the poorest (economically) countries in Europe and although it is a part of the European Union, it's economy is still too weak for them to be able to switch to the euro.
Bulgaria is a country of contrasts. It is as old as civilization itself and yet as a modern post-soviet nation, it is still very young and still finding it's way now that it has regained it's independence. The streets of the Capital (Sofia) sport shops like Bulgari, Versace, Lacoste, and many others. Italian designers and their shops sit just around the corner from open air markets where you can buy cheap souvenirs and "soviet memorabilia" (99% fakes, btw). Wealth and poverty blend in a mishmash of new wealth and old world destitution. It is a country of extremes in certain ways. To western eyes, it can be shocking to drive down the highway and see farmers taking crops to town in horse drawn carts made of old pickup truck beds, or sheet metal slats that have been tied together around a flat cart in order to contain their cargo. In smaller towns and villages, the streets are clean and tidy. Not because they have street sweeping trucks like almost every city in America. But because groups of housewives roam the streets in the early mornings chatting and gossiping while they sweep the streets and sidewalks clean with their brooms.
I'm sorry. It seems that I've left my original subject and gotten lost in my memories of my dear Bulgaria again. It's strange to think that although I only had two weeks in that beautiful land, I miss it very much. It felt like home in so many ways that I can barely describe. Even the food reminded me of my grandmother's cooking. Which makes absolutely NO sense since she was descended from Scottish and English ancestors almost exclusively!
I know that I should spend more time and round out this blog post... make it a bit more structured and organized. But I'm not. I'm just going to leave you with this:
Any time you meet a family that includes a child you think "must" be adopted... don't ask. Really, it's none of your business. All that should matter is that they are a family and a child is in a loving home. If you want to learn more about their story or about adoption, get to know them. Make friends and take the time to get to know them well enough for THEM to feel comfortable bringing up the subject if they choose to do so. But whatever you do, don't ask questions in front of their (or any other) children. Even if the family is open about their adoption, you may be planting the seed of "I'm different" or "I don't fit in" in a child's fragile heart and mind. And make no mistake... the hearts of adopted children are fragile and extremely easy to hurt even if they don't show it to you.
With love to you all... more to follow,
A photo of Crista with her kind and loving foster mother
A photo of Crista's wonderful and beautiful foster sister Aleksandrina.
My daughter was blessed to share their home for 5 wonderful months while she waited for us to be able to bring her home.