Sunday, February 28, 2010

Adoption Semantics

"Wait...what? You guys are adopting?"
If you missed the blognouncement, click HERE to read the story behind our new adventure!
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Those of you who have been pregnant know that it is a very eye-opening experience--in many ways. One thing I remember was the realization that comments I had made to pregnant women in the past were totally not appropriate. I remember a gorgeous, superskinny acquaintance I had who became pregnant. This gal was such a supermodel, I thought her self-esteem (pre and during pregnancy) would render my new nickname "Chubby" totally hilarious to both of us, as we had a very teasing relationship. But when I tried it out, she wasn't really laughing. Hmmm--duly noted.
FYI, pretty much THE ONLY acceptable comments to make about a pregnant women's appearance are "You're already ____ weeks?!" (Thus making her feel small) or "You look (fantastic, adorable, glowing, teeny, amazing, beautiful, etc.)." NEVER say "You look like you're about to pop," or "You're ONLY ______ weeks?!" thus making her feel like a beached whale.
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As I mentioned previously, we have been doing lots of reading about adoption. (OK, I read, then pass on the really good books or chapters to Trent.) So far I've read (or thoroughly skimmed) How to Adopt Internationally; The Lucky Ones; I'm Chocolate, You're Vanilla; The Family of Adoption; The Essential Link: Attachment Information for Adoptive Parents; and The Complete Book of International Adoption. The last one had a really interesting table in one of the chapters that dealt with adoption language. Total "a-ha" moment for me! So, as I'm determined to become the new poster child for adoption awareness, welcome to my first blog lesson on adoption: adoption language. (Adoptive parents or adoptees, please feel free to add or edit any of these from your own experiences.)
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Inaccurrate language: Real parent/real mother/natural parent
Accurate: Birth parent/biological parent
Inaccurate: Blood relative
Accurate: Birth relative
Inaccurate: My adopted child
Accurate: My child
Inaccurate: My own child
Accurate: My biological child
Inaccurate: Adoptive parent
Accurate: Parent
Inaccurate: Gave up for adoption/ put up for adoption
Accurate: Chose or made an adoption plan
Inaccurate: Illegitmate
Accurate: Born to unwed mother or unmarried parents
Inaccurate: Keeping your baby
Accurate: Deciding to parent/raise child
Inaccurate: Foreign adoption/foreign country
Accurate: International/Intercountry adoption/birth country
Inaccurate:Handicapped child/hard to place
Accurate:Child with special needs/waiting child
Inaccurate: track down parents
Accurate: search
Inaccurate: adopting a pet
Accurate: finding a pet
The author also talked about how to have a conversation or pleasant stranger-in-the-store-chitchat with a family who has probably adopted internationally. The first rule of thumb? Always start with a compliment--a compliment about ALL of the children if there are more than one. Cute kids, well-behaved--pick a feature. Do not point, don't draw attention to the kids, and don't talk about the children like they are not there. Ie: "Where did you get those two?" If you are curious, then ask permission to ask. You know the drill: "May I ask..." then remember the lingo previously mentioned. "May I ask if your family adopted?" It also never hurts to say WHY you want to know. If you are just plain nosey, then perhaps MYOB and stop after the compliment. If you or someone you love is pursuing international adoption, then tell the adult as much in one sentence or less. But whatever you do, KEEP IT BRIEF! She's there to shop and if she has a kid with her, it's already a big enough challenge!
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Interesting stuff to ponder, huh? I know it's already changed the way I speak about this topic. I hope you enjoyed your first lesson. :)

5 comments:

Kristi said...

good stuff to know! :)

The Mahnke Family said...

We've read the book you got these from too! So good to be mindful of. I really want our own copy of 10 Steps to Successful International Adoption by Brenda K. Uekert, PhD. It's SUCH a great workbook! But, alas, as far as I can tell it is out of print. I checked out a copy from the library and just keep renewing and renewing it! It's got TONS of totally practical info and worksheets to help with everything involved. She even tells you how to set up a file box and how to label your 13 hanging files and your approx 75 file folders! She is super organized! Let me know if you come across a copy anywhere, and I will do the same for you. You definitely want this book!

Paul, Jane, Elijah, Katelynn and Tessa said...

The friendly chitchat with the stranger...That is good to ask if they are adopted...I read in a magazine if you decide to ask a stranger about their children (where they were adopted from) make sure you know they are really adopted and not from an interracial marriage. The woman wrote the article saying how frustrated she was that people always assumed that her kids weren't her biological offspring because their skin was darker like their father's. She would answer, "they are from my uterus", and would be offended. Just a tip....I know that I often assume if kids look like a different ethnicity than their mom, they are adopted.

nabz said...

thank you jen!! i so appreciate being schooled!! :)

Diane Davis said...

proud of you, my friend. so glad you are an information sponge. these things are not just semantics, they really do matter. keep documenting. for your own sake, and because you have a fan club of friends and readers! love you.