Monday, October 25, 2010

Things to Consider...

Recently there have been a few more of those things that drive me crazy and, since no one really wants to listen to me (and I frankly have a difficult time articulating a complete sentence lately), I decided to blog about it. So, here goes.

The first one is being called an adoptive parent. This has always kind of rubbed me the wrong way but I haven't really been able to put my finger on why. Recently, though, I came across a similar example. A local agency is putting on a production called "Please don't call me homeless, I don't call you homed". I was like, exactly. Here's the thing. When I talk about you, I don't call you a biological parent, so why do you feel the need to call me an adoptive parent. There are times when these labels are appropriate, like in conversation (and documentation) with our social workers, but, outside of that, I'm just a parent. Another example of this is when talking about people with special (physical or mental health) needs - we never say, "oh she's disabled". Well, we shouldn't at least. It's more appropriate to say "a person with disabilities". It's called "person first", not disability first. I'm a momma first, the adoption status is secondary to that. So, if you do feel the need to point out that our family came to be because of adoption rather than birth, how about "a parent through adoption".

The second thing is something that's been grating in my nerves for the last couple of weeks since our pediatrician said it to me at baby E's 2wk appointment. Now, I know it's something she probably says to everyone, but it's not really a good excuse. We all know there are things we can say to certain people, but not to others, this falls into that category. Though, maybe not. Maybe it shouldn't be said to anyone. Anyway, here's what it is - "oh, he's just perfect. I think he's a keeper" or "I think you should keep him". See, here's the thing, while that obviously means nothing to baby E, to an older child who was adopted, this may strike a nerve. Because adoption, simply because it is, feels less permanent to some people. And I would think that to all children who were adopted, they feel more vulnerable at least at some points in their lives. All children go through stages of questioning where, or whether, they belong. Simple flippant comments such as these, can hit, and hurt, someone who is already feeling uncertain. Also, it's implies that not "keeping" a child is an option, or that only a perfect child should be "kept".

So, today's lesson - here's what I'm asking, just think. Think before you open your mouth. Don't just say something a certain way because that's how others around you say it. I recently learned this lesson myself when I referred to those white sleeveless tank shirts as "wife beaters". It seems innocuous enough, and it's what I've always heard them referred to as, but what kind of message does it send to others, and to my children, about my opinions/assumptions about the people wearing them. So, take a minute to think about the things you say. I'm working on this daily...

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