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Thursday, November 17, 2016

Engage Brain Before Speaking

Why do people think it necessary or appropriate to comment that while it's nice that I adopted my daughter from Russia, there are many kids available for adoption in the US as well? And to make this statement to my daughter is particularly appalling.

Does this mean that Russian (or Ukrainian or Chinese, etc.) children are less deserving of a loving family than are American kids? Do people think that because we are American, we are more special than people in other countries? Do our children deserve a good home more than children in other countries? Was this thoughtless person suggesting that I could have adopted a 'better' child from the US?

As my daughter pointed out, children in foster care in the US generally have it better than do kids in an orphanage in a third-world country. When she was in an orphanage, she never had enough to eat, she didn't have anything of her own (even clothing was shared) and she got little attention from the caregivers in the orphanage. I'm not saying that life in foster care is easy. I know it's a struggle and not something to be wished on any child. But sometimes foster care is better than the alternatives.

I didn't set out to adopt a child from Russia. In fact, I had no plans to adopt a child from anywhere. But circumstances brought my daughter and me together, and I made the decision to adopt her. She was 11 years old, far older than the age most people want to adopt. Had she stayed in Russia, she most likely would now be a prostitute and an alcoholic
as her birth family was. Or she might well be dead.

Has it been easy to raise an older adopted child? No, there were times it was extremely difficult. But I now have a kind, compassionate daughter who is a successful hair stylist married to a terrific young man in the military.

I saw a similar sentiment recently when a Texas family adopted a little girl with Down syndrome from China. Someone questioned why the family didn't adopt an American child. I assume by "American" she meant 'white.' I replied that I adopted my daughter from Russia, but not to worry, Julia is white. So I didn't bring one of those 'other' kids into our country. We all know that girls in China are often discarded by families that want boy babies. And a child with a disability has zero chance of being adopted by a Chinese family. So why not celebrate this family's decision to adopt this little girl?

Why do some people find it necessary to state that "This is great, but..."? Attitudes like this really offend me. I adopted a child in need of a loving family. Does it really matter where she was born?

My path to adoption was the right path for me. Fate brought us together. I speak Russian, and I studied Russian history, geography and politics in college. I have lived in Russia. So this was the right path for us. The right path for someone else might be to adopt domestically. Who am I to question the path set before me? 

So please don't ask about an adopted child's 'real' parents. Don't ask about her background or history. If she wants to tell you about it, that is her decision. But I am my daughter's 'real' mother because I am the person who raised and educated her and helped her to become a good person. Her birth mother, with whom she restored contact last year, recognizes me as my daughter's mother. 

There are numerous articles on-line about what to say, and not say, to adoptive parents and their children. So I suggest that before opening your mouth and inserting your foot, or insulting or hurting someone, educate yourself. Or just keep your mouth shut and celebrate the fact that a child in need -- regardless of country of origin -- has found a loving home.