November is National Adoption Awareness Month. It’s a time people are encouraged to understand and learn more about building their families through adoption. It’s a time people celebrate adopting and being adopted. Really, it’s all about family.
As many of you know, Maryann and I are blessed to have two amazing children through adoption. Both of our children came to us when they were three days old. And we are family.
I sometimes am asked if Keagan and Caleb are real sister and brother. The answer is simply yes. They are as real brother and sister as I am with my brother. Family is family. Some made by blood, some made by choice, all made by love.
As this month draws to a close, I’d like to add three thoughts about ways to have positive interactions with families who have adopted.
1 – Family is family. Period.
When you encounter a family that has adopted children, it’s impolite to ask “Which one is yours?” if you know that one of the children is biologically related and the other is not. Your curiosity as to genetic similarity has absolutely no priority over how the children feel hearing that question. Do you mean for the adopted child to wonder if he or she actually has standing in the family? That he or she is “not quite” a member, or subordinate to the other? Words have meaning. Please remember that.
2 – Cost is gauche.
I’ve actually been asked how much I paid for my children. Total strangers have felt free to inquire about this, as if they have a right to know. Let me be clear, my children are priceless. If you are actually interested in adoption and want help planning for the expenses that are incurred, I’m happy to have that discussion with you. Away from my children. Not in public. And I’m even happier to introduce you to my good friends who are adoption attorneys and our amazing adoption agency who can really give insight on the topic.
3 – They aren’t the lucky ones.
Maryann and I did not do a public service or a grand gesture when we adopted. Quite the opposite. We wanted a family. We wanted our lives to be enriched by the presence of children in it. We didn’t rescue them, or save them, or anything heroic. On the contrary, we are the lucky ones. We are the ones blessed to have these two amazing children to love and be loved by.
Families formed by adoption are just like every other family, all the good and bad and fun and silly and happy and sad and everything else parts. So the next time you see a family with adopted children feel free to simply say, “What a beautiful family you have.”
Thanks for reading!
Francine E. Love