November is Adoption Awareness Month. For my family it means that we work even harder to educate those around us about the world of adoption.
One of the key areas I always feel the need to inform people about is using appropriate language with regards to adoption. Many times I am actually told by people that I am not my child's “real” mom.
Trust me I am his real mom. I have changed his diapers, cleaned up his puke, wiped his runny nose and bandaged his owies. I coached his hockey teams, drove him around to activities and love him unconditionally. The mom that gave birth to my son is also a real mom as well. All moms (and dads) are real.
Another issue faced by many adoptive families is that people will ask them how much it cost for them to get their kids. I have actually been asked this twice, both times in front of my son.
Adoptive families do not buy their children. We do, however, pay for legal fees, hospital fees, lawyers, social workers, reports, travel, court costs, medical tests, immigration costs and countless other fees and charges. To imply that adoptive parents buy their children is not only insulting but extremely hurtful and damaging.
Adoption is forever. Friends of mine were actually asked if they adopted so that they could return their children if they didn't like them. Thankfully, this was not asked in front of their kids. Children are not commodities to be bought, returned nor traded in. I do not know a single birth family that has been asked this question. Let me repeat, adoption is forever.
Another misconception is that I saved my child by adopting him. That could not be further from the truth. My son saved me. He turned my black and white world into an explosion of bright, shimmering colour. No one would even consider telling a birth family that they saved their children so how is it acceptable to say that to an adoptive family?
And while I'm in an educating mood, my son is not my adopted son, he is my son, I am his mom. We are an adoptive family. Some might just say that it is a case of semantics but it is important. If I also had birth children, they would just be referred to as my kids, not my birth kids. Put the adoption on the family and not the individual child.
It has been almost 15 years since I adopted my son and I am still amazed at the prejudices adoptive families face. While celebrities like Angelina Jolie and Sandra Bullock have propelled adoption into the mainstream of society, I am still baffled by how differently birth families and adoptive families are treated. I am quite certain that when my son is an adult he will still be educating people about the world of adoption but I know he will be a strong advocate within the adoptive community.