How To Talk About Adoption With Someone Who Was Adopted

How To Talk About Adoption With Someone Who Was Adopted

You want to know. We want you to ask, but here's how to do it.

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Adoption is easily misunderstood. I've received countless comments during my life wondering about our family dynamic. These comments are not necessarily insensitive, they just reveal how misguided society is on a completely beneficial and beautiful journey.

The worst comment I've ever received was from a previous boyfriend telling me that parents who adopt children don't love them the same. Luckily, being adopted has always been one of the brightest spots of my identity. I love sharing my story and draw strength from it.

For others, especially adoptees who are younger, have a darker story or just found out, these comments and questions can often be hurtful. I'm here to tell you the best ways to broach this sometimes sensitive topic.

What not to ask: do you know your real parents?

This one's the worst! Let's just cut out the concept of "real parents" altogether. My real parents are the ones who flew across the world and have been my biggest supporters. My real parents are the ones who have shown up to every event and that I celebrate birthdays and special occasions with. They're not the ones who created me.

Instead ask: do you ever wish to discover more about your biological family?

Perfecto! This delicately asks if they're comfortable talking about their history and journey while also factoring in such things as costs and the emotional toll such journeys can take. And there might also not be a mother or father for them to pursue, so keeping it a generic family question prevents any awkwardness!

What not to ask: are those your actual siblings?

Yikes. This one gets easier as you get older, but when you're younger it's hard to wrap this concept around your brain. Asking if someone's brother or sister is related to them just increases the feeling of being different rather than feeling connected. Also, if an adoptee knows that they have a biological sibling, it might make them wonder about them in a public setting.

Instead ask: do you have any siblings at home?

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Everyone knows you're basically asking the same question, but it's a lot easier to answer. It also clarifies that you're talking about biological siblings if there are any.

What not to ask: Why’d your parents give you up?

SOUND THE ALARM. However this is worded, it should generally seem unacceptable. I know, I know you're probably just interested and sympathetic in their story, but this just brings up one of the unpleasant truths about adoption. Somebody, somewhere, decided to give up their child. It could've been for a million selfless and/or selfish reasons but being reminded that someone decided on that action is very unpleasant. Two words: Abandonment issues.

Instead ask: I’m sure your adoption story is so special.

This leaves it up to the adoptee. They could simply say yes or thank you, but if they are comfortable with sharing, I'm sure they'll expound on their story. Easy peasy.

What not to say: It’s awesome that you’re adopted, but I’m sure (your parents, family dynamic, the love, etc.) is different.

Well, yes. Every member of my family is completely aware our origins are different. However, the implication is that our family connection is not of the same caliber as a biological family. However, I don't think any adoptee I've ever met felt that there was something lacking or inferior about their family dynamic. Take a minute to think about all of the mentors, parental figures and blended families you know yourself or someone else has.

Instead say: I bet your family is so unique and grateful to have one another.

This opens up dialogue on the differences in families (because there definitely are some), but it stresses the positives of being in an adopted family.

Do not say: I don’t think I could ever adopt, it seems so hard.

It's true, adopting isn't for everyone. There is a lot of red tape, emotions, and money involved in the process. But it's so worth it. Imagine finding a child out of the millions that already exist on the planet that enhances your family or your relationship in such a profound way. Childbirth is hard. Parenting in general (so I hear, sorry I love you mom and dad) is tough. Hospitals are expensive. But very few ask a healthy couple trying to get pregnant wondering if it's worth the difficulties or expense.

Instead say: your parents are so strong.

Yes, they sure are.

For those who have ever considered it or for the couples that are struggling with fertility issues, I urge you to consider adoption. We need to end the stigma that adoption is plan B or last resort when you can't have children of your own. Because those children you adopt are your own. They might not have entered your life in the same way, but the overwhelming love and gratitude you receive are the same.

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To My Boyfriend's Mom

He loves you more than you could ever imagine...
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Without you, there would not be a him, so first things first, thank you.

1. Thank you for teaching him to love a woman the right way, to put God first, and YOU before me always, the respect he shows you is so attractive, and you deserve it.

He talks about you like you hung the moon, I don't doubt for a second that he will be an amazing father one day, I owe all of that to you.

2. Thank you for giving me a chance, learning to love me when you knew your son was doing the same.

I can't speak for my own first impressions, but hopefully mine was not THAT bad...when we both slapped him on the arms for his rude remark at the same time, I knew our relationship was already blossoming.

SEE ALSO: Finding A Husband In College

3. Thank you for every meal you have ever purchased me.

And chocolate, and candy...you know just as well as your son does that food is the way to my heart. Especially Taco Bell and cheesecake ;)

4. Thank you for your advice, suggestions, and opinions...and asking for mine

Whether it's telling me to slap him for being a smart a$$, or you're asking me about color swabs for your kitchen makeover, you come to me as if I am your own, and I am so honored to give you my own input.

5. Thank you for including me

You never fail to leave a spot for me, and I love family dinners/outings with you guys just as much as I love my own!

6. Thank you for teaching your son to never give up, and that if he does it is only to better himself, or it's the only choice he has left.

He is so focused on his future, he wants the best for himself, and he is constantly reminding me that these are things that YOU taught him, you deserve to be so proud.

7. Thank you for letting him love my family, and allowing me to love yours.

He is so loyal and loving to my family, and I don't even have to ask myself why because I see him with you and yours. Thank you for letting us double up on holidays when we can, and making sure we get the most out of our time with you!

8. Thank you for being his best friend.

I think of him as mine too, but I couldn't think of a better person to also hold that title, you know him better than anyone else and you always will.

9. Thank you for teaching him how to treat a woman

He is constantly telling me "You sound like my mother." Thankfully earlier in our relationship, he told me that the woman he wants to be with, should do just that. He always tells people who try, "No, no one calls me by my full name except my mom and my girlfriend."

10. Thank you for your honesty

We all know that he and I can drive you crazy sometimes, thank you for telling us like it is, and making sure we know you still love us anyways.

SEE ALSO: 8 Tiny Lies Every Young Woman Has Told Their Best Friend

11. Thank you for teaching him to work as hard as possible in anything and everything he does.

I have never met anyone with such a desire for success, he and I are constantly discussing how we can better our futures, and I know exactly where his drive comes from.

12. Thank you for teaching him to clean up after himself

Even though sometimes, it takes him a minute to do so.

13. Thank you for teaching him how to love, and letting him love me.

I have never felt so loved by a man, probably because anyone else who came into my life was just a boy. Thank you for your unconditional love for him, he is your entire heart and that is so easy to see, I am happy to share his with you.

You and I both know that even years from now we will both occasionally probably be closing the fridge that he left open, cleaning the crumbs he dropped, demanding he take a shower after playing soccer, or reminding him 20 times about plans we made weeks ago, we both share such a great love for such an amazing man. I could never be more thankful that you brought forth into this world such a comforting, supportive, protective, steadfast, driven, handsome, and hilarious guy. Thank you for everything you do for him, for me, and for us, I love you a lot!

Cover Image Credit: casey

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My College Move Caused My Little Sister To Develop Separation Anxiety

Students moving to college has a ripple effect on families that is too often overlooked

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Moving to college is a daunting experience for almost every first-year student. It can be lonely, awkward, and you might miss your family... a lot. It makes you realize that after living with your parents and siblings for eighteen years, the act of uprooting what you have always known and leaving it all behind, is a really strange thing to do. You are no longer surrounded by the core people that have made you who you are today. And while I was dealing with these circumstances, I failed to notice how it takes effect on my sibling's emotions.

While it was obvious that my parents were dealing with the great heartache of their first child leaving the nest, I never considered the distress that it would cause in the lives of my siblings. A whole person is taken out of the original family dynamic, changing the ambiance of their household life entirely. I feel that this is often disregarded, as every event from graduation, to move in day, is about the child who is leaving. But it wasn't until my family began to relay the distressing tendencies of my eleven-year-old sister, did I recognize that she was showing signs of depression. And the guilt hit me instantly.

My mom and dad would each call me on multiple occasions to tell me how often she seemed to not be present or was not eating enough. Whether at the dinner table, in the car, or out shopping on the weekends, they could not seem to lift her spirits. They would also complain that from the time she arrived home from school until bedtime, she remained in her room, on her phone or computer. Although for a preteen this is not unusual, it was shocking to us as she used to spend the majority of after-school time with friends, and later hanging out with the family until it was time for bed.

Finally, I came to the conclusion that her self isolation must stem from the fact that my parents went through a divorce a few years ago, leading to me becoming a motherly figure to her during the nights spent at my dad's house. And she was probably just starting to adjust to that agenda until I left for school in August. But she was not the only one left feeling like she was missing something.

Although my brother doesn't outright show that he was as affected by my departure, he has mentioned to me many times how neither house feels as home-like with me gone. Because of this, he disregards any attempt to better his home relationships and often uses his newly acquired car to drive to his friend's houses where he spends most nights. Although this is his coping mechanism, it leaves my sister home with only one parent or the other, feeling like a newly appointed only child.

The issue with this is that my parents don't know how to give proper attention to a metaphorical only child, nor do they have the time. My siblings and I always had each other to keep company so it was never an issue. Therefore, my sister is left lonely, and slowing receding into mildly depressive tendencies. And no matter how often I encourage her to call me and discuss her feelings, I get the idea that she doesn't believe that anyone will understand, or that she feels as though discussing her feelings becomes a burden to others.

Luckily my family recognized what she was going through after a while, and has begun to take action to help her out of this funk. However, the possible mental illness that I saw her beginning to develop at such an early age is extremely worrisome to me. Not only do we live in a world where mental illnesses are more prominent than ever due to social media, but sometimes the families of those affected are the ones blindly causing it. We need to encourage our parents and siblings to bring about their compassion for each other more often. Because in a fast-paced world like the one we live in, where everything is constantly going, we often forget to look at those around us and make sure that they are feeling valued and heard.

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