My husband and I entered the journey of foster care with the hopes of adopting someday, but little did we know that we would adopt five kids in less than five years of being licensed foster parents. Needless to say, we get asked a lot of adoption questions.
Sitting in a sneak preview of Instant Family with the Coalition for Youth and Families, I found myself feeling all the feels of our journey through foster care. From the priceless friends we’ve made to the life-changing family we’ve found in our children, every moment has been worth it. We are so grateful for the way our tribe was created: Adoption.
But along our way on this less traveled path, I have learned that people have lots of questions – so let me address some of the most asked adoption questions.
“Where did you get them?”
While the intention may be to ask if my kids are adopted locally or internationally (or adopted at all), it is better NOT to ask. Unless your question is important to a discussion happening about adoption and you are privately asking a parent, consider NOT asking.
While my kids happen to LOVE to talk about adoption, that is rare. A better question to ask would be, “Is this your daughter/son/mom?” That way, they can answer any way they want to. We’ve all asked inappropriate questions with good intentions, but it is better to just allow adoptive families to share their own stories in their own time.
“You’re hands are full! Did you mean to have this many kids?”
While they may not look like they aren’t paying attention, my kids happen to be hyper vigilant. So, asking their adoptive mom if she wanted them isn’t exactly helpful. If I adopted them, I wanted them. So yes.
Maybe instead of pointing out that my hands are full, try to lend a hand. If you see I look overwhelmed – drop off some chili. Remember, too, having a lot of kids means there are more problems, but also more hugs, kisses, and love to go around.
“Are your kids extra difficult and broken?”
Yes. My kids are difficult. Mental illness is real. They have been exposed to very many things that I am not excited to discuss with people outside our family because trauma is private.
Instead of asking about their past, be a part of helping them develop friends and invite kids like mine to do something with your family. While more intentional adult supervision may be required, consider how the adoptive family must struggle with this daily. A few hours on a Saturday afternoon could be a huge gift to the entire family.
“How do you do it?”
Believe it or not, we don’t. We can’t do this whole adoptive parent thing alone. We rely on other families. Family therapists. Psychiatrists. School Staff. Occupational Therapists. Parenting books. We need to be accepted and welcomed into the fold of our community because while our kids have been in rough places, they are resilient. They want to understand how to be loved. Wouldn’t it be amazing for your kids to be a part of teaching them?
One of the best ways to support adoptive families is by normalizing adoption. Allow your kids to see how beautiful it is to welcome someone who needs a home and a safe place to belong. When you read a book or see a movie about adoption, it is great to explain what adoption is. Most super heroes are adopted, you know.
Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin and Saint A are other great resources to answer your adoption questions and give you more information about foster care and adoption. Thanks for wanting to learn a little bit more about my Instant Family and how to support us as we try to just be a normal family.