By Angela Tucker, Post-Adoption Program Manager
We know you’ve experienced it, too. That well-intentioned (nosy?) grocery clerk who curiously inquires, “Are you her real mom?” You knew this question was coming after she uttered that first word, by the quizzical look in her eyes. You wonder: Should I educate her about the adoption process? Should I politely ask her to mind her own business? Or maybe you reach back into the recesses of your mind, fishing for those witty comebacks you’ve silently practiced after each of these encounters.
While assessing your options, you turn to your 11-year-old, Sophia, who is looking back at you non-verbally communicating that she’s ready to go and you ask, “Sophia, would you like to answer?” She groans and pinches you – hard. You yelp and she looks at the grocery clerk and responds, “Yup! She seems real to me! Thanks, and have a good day!”
Apparently, Sophia has been practicing her response, too!
All children are impacted by the words and actions of the adults in their orbit; whether family members, friends, or strangers we meet. Sure, it can seem as if children aren’t paying attention to the “boring” conversations between adults or are ignoring a parent’s request to get themselves dressed for school. Typically, they are clued in and it’s up to adults to tune in to how our words and actions impact the children in our world.
How do we prepare our children, adoptees, for the inevitable questions?
Conversations and questions that may seem innocent or harmless to the inquisitor can have a greater impact on adoptees than we realize. When adoptive parents are asked questions in front of their children, like, “Where is she from?” or “Does he ask about his biological dad?” we can be certain that the child is listening! So, how do adoptive families prepare for those possible questions? By being child-centered in our approach, every step of the way.
We can’t shy away from the challenging questions or conversations that adoptees and their families often face. This 45-second video is meant to continue a conversation about how we encourage everyone–in the adoptive community and beyond–to center children’s well-being when considering how to address the inevitable questions strangers will ask about their adoption story. Let’s make sure that we are inviting adoptees to counter the biases or misunderstandings they experience, by using their own voice, in a developmentally appropriate way. Amara creates safe and inclusive spaces for adoptees and offers support and resources to gain new skills. Watch our video below and check out our Post-Adoption program to learn more.
What are the questions you or your family have received? And how do you address them?
We want to hear from you! In recognition of National Adoption Month (November), please join me and adoption-competent therapist and adoptee, Spring Hecht, on Friday, November 10th, 12 pm PT/3 pm ET, for a Facebook Live conversation on Amara’s Facebook page. It will be a chance to connect with other adoptees, adoptive families, and those who love them, as we delve deeper into how we approach the challenging conversations adoptees face, in a child-centered way.