Okay, here comes another “Single Dad Ranting” post. You may laugh, but hopefully only because you see the idiocy and carelessness of some people, bless their hearts. Please, though, this is something that I’m very serious about and I hope you’ll listen in.
What do you notice about this photo?
Hopefully you just see a father and son. Maybe you see a beautiful bond. Maybe you see love. Maybe you see two awesome human beings. Hopefully you don’t see a damn price tag hanging from Noah’s ear or a child who will never know true happiness.
You see, today when I was at the store with Noah, somebody had the nerve to ask me, right in front of Noah, “how much did he cost?” And this was the second time somebody has asked that absolutely ridiculous and insensitive question to me; I know his mom has heard it too.
You may have noticed that Noah is of a slightly different race than his old man. He’s a quarter Panamanian, quarter Jamaican, and half Caucasian. Noah is my son. Noah was adopted. Trust me, I couldn’t pass on genetics to a kid this beautiful.
And since he was placed with us, his parents, I have learned just how insensitive the world can be to kids who have been placed through adoption. People don’t realize how fragile the minds of young children are. People don’t realize that wording things certain ways can hurt a child, and badly. And with that, I present to you the following list, all taken from personal experiences in the past three years:
Single Dad Laughing’s Guide to Adoption Etiquette:
- Never, ever, ever, ask how much a child costs. This includes the phrase, “how much did you pay for him?” First of all, it’s none of your business. Second of all, if you’re interested in adoption, research it through the appropriate channels. Speak with an adoption agency. Adoptive parents don’t purchase children. They simply pay legal fees and agency fees. Just like biological parents pay hospital and doctor bills. Don’t turn the child into nothing more than a commodity.
- Never ask if a celebrity inspired the adoption. Believe it or not, Tom Cruise, Connie Chung, and Angelina Jolie did not convince me one way or the other in the biggest decision of my life. Are you serious?
- Never ask “where is his real dad?” Forget the fact that it will hurt my feelings. How do you think it will affect my son’s feelings to feel like I’m not a real dad to him? Adoptive parents are real parents. The term you’re looking for is “birth mother” or “birth father”.
- Don’t say things like, “as soon as you adopt you’re going to get pregnant” when you find out somebody is adopting. First of all, there are usually many, many years of pain and financial burden strapped to infertility, treatments, and heartache. Do you really think that what you’re saying will help them? Secondly, while it is funny when it happens, it’s rare.
- Never say, “why did she give him away?” Do I really need to explain why this one would hurt a child? The proper term is “placed”. A birth mother and birth father place their child for adoption. And again, it’s personal and none of your business, so don’t ask if you aren’t my BFF.
- Don’t say, “it’s like he’s your real son”. This is similar to number three, but worthy of mentioning. He is my real son, damn it.
- Don’t say, “do you love him as if he was your own?” Ummm… probably more than you love your little terror, that’s for sure. And again… he is my own, damn it.
- Never say things like, “you’re so wonderful to adopt a child”. I am a parent. Just like anybody else with kids.
- Don’t start spewing your horrible adoption stories. “This one time, my friend’s sister’s aunt’s dog’s previous owner’s niece adopted a baby and the real dad came back and they took the baby away after they had him for two years.” First of all, it probably isn’t true. Second of all, how would you feel if I told you about all the ways you could lose your child. Adoption is permanent. And in the extremely rare circumstances that something like that happens, it’s not something you should spread because the hurt that exists for all the parties involved must be immeasurable.
- Don’t say things like, “is it hard for him to be adopted?” Well, it wasn’t, until you asked me that right in front of him.
- I don’t want to hear about your second cousin who was on a waiting list for twelve years and never got a baby. Granted, this one was much more annoying when we were going through the adoption process. Nobody wants to know that some people never get chosen. Show some kindness. Especially to those who you know might have a long wait ahead of them.
That’s all I can think of right now, but I know there are more. Just be sensitive. Don’t put your nose where it doesn’t belong. Respect my father-son relationship for what it is and don’t lessen it. Don’t talk about my son like he’s not even there or too little to understand. Or do, if you’re okay with a swift kick to the face.
Dan Pearce, Single Adoptive Dad Laughing
PS, please post this one on Facebook and Twitter. Most people have good intentions but really say some horrible things without ever knowing it. This is one bit of education that needs to be passed on.
Tomorrow, I’ll share with you the non-private details of how Noah came into our lives. It’s a beautiful story. Click here to read it. “Noah. A beautiful tale of adoption.”
I really like your advice to never ask how much a child cost. Not only is that rude, but it also makes it seem as though the child is nothing more than a commodity. I can't help but wonder what that does to a child's psyche to hear something like that. For all we know, that can lead the child to thinking that they are just an object. http://www.achildsdream.org/state-by-state/arizona.html
Just came across your blog and it's fantastic! Your adoption story is very similar to ours and your comments about how much you love your son are amazing. Just wonderful.
I want to share my testimony on how i was able to get back my husband around September last year with the help of Dr Ekaka. My husband left me for over 3years and went on with another lady and i was unable to move on with my life because of the love i have for him last month i saw a testimony on the internet on how Dr Ekaka help someone with love spell so i never believe it but just have to try my faith which i did and i contacted him on his email: [email protected] and he told me what i need to do and after 2days i received a call from my husband asking me to come back to him it was all like a dream to me i am so happy now as we are back together again thanks to Dr Ekaka and i will advice anyone in need of help to contact him
before I looked at the check that said $9095 , I be certain that my cousin had been actualie earning money part time from there computar. . there neighbor had bean doing this for only twenty three months and at present paid the loans on their apartment and bought a great new Land Rover Defender . you could check here
DON'T BUY KIDS????? Did I *really* just read that??? Wow..... My husband & I adopted 2 beautiful kids from Kazakhstan 10 yrs ago - ADOPTED, not "bought. And while there is risk from working w/ bad adoption agencies (which we did - Google "Yunona adoptions"), no one in their right mind "buys" kids!! And now, my daughter, who unfortunately is very naive & gullible, has fallen victim to a family that *does* put a "price" on kids' heads. The "mother" (I use that term very loosely) of the boy my daughter has gotten involved w/, has managed to brainwash & manipulate my daughter to the point that she's completely out of touch w/ reality, & won't come home, even though she is in urgent need of medical care. THIS is a text I got from this vile woman a couple wks ago. If you think I look at my daughter & only see how much I "paid" for her.....if you don't think this HURTS me, my husband, & my son to the point where it's destroying our lives..THINK AGAIN!! I love her as much as if she were genetically my own.....maybe *more so*, cos of what we had to do to bring her & her brother home from the other side of the world. NOBODY IN THEIR RIGHT MINDS PUTS A PRICE ON A CHILD'S HEAD!!!!!
The "real" bit always gets to me, as an adoptee myself. I get asked "do you want to look for your real mom and dad?" Um, I don't need to look for them, my real mom and dad raised me. Now, if you are wondering about my birth mom and dad, that's a different question all together. And growing up "what does it feel like to be adopted?" I always answered with "what does it feel like to not be adopted?"
I adopted 2 girls from China. I get asked either if my husband is asian or if I am their "real" mother. I always respond. "Why do you want to know"? That always gets them to shut up. And to the 2nd question I always answer..... Yes, I really am their mother. And the kicker is that these questions are always asked in front of my daughters. They are now 9, so they understand now.
People's ignorance never ceases to amaze me. I'm sure you don't let it interfere with your enjoyment of your children, but what a way to get an 'education.' - in front of your children?! Sheesh. I have encountered the 'real parent' questions and have grown much less patient with my replies than I used to be!
I can't wait for you to become a parent for the second time and the new list you will post.
"They look like they could be brothers.:......."
"Wow...A seems to love B"....(seriously?)
@joyfulgirl3 yup. My mom had three kids then adopted 6 more. We get comments all the time on how much we look alike even though we aren't related. I also get asked about my "real" family.
When I was in kindergarten my sister *we were adopted together* was in 4th grade a 5th grader who knew we were adopted told her that it was because noone wanted us, we weren't loved etc. I got up and told him to shut up, and that he was wrong. He went up to me and said that I was a stupid little girl that wasn't wanted or cared about. So I punched him in the nose. :)
but in all seriousness it's not something we want to hear.
I am 27 and I am adopted. My sister (who is more noticeably a different race) is adopted, and I have been asked pretty much all of these questions aside from the one about cost. It hurt more then anyone who isn't adopted will understand when someone would ask me where my real parents are or if I had met my real parents. My parents are my real parents just as you are Noah's real parent.
People who say these things usually mean no harm, but it is harmful and hurtful and detrimental even. It is hard being adopted, but not because I don't love my parents, my REAL parents. The hard part comes from overcoming the feelings of being given away. The feelings of an adopted person are crazy and confusing and don't always make sense.
Thank you for your post, thank you for bringing attention to this, thank you from my heart to yours. I love knowing my birth mom chose my parents and that from the beginning God chose them for me, just as I know that Noah will love that his birth mom chose you especially for him.
My husband and I adopted our daughter who is not white (we are), she is 9 months old and was placed with us at 3 months. Over the past six months I have gotten SO many rude questions because she is not the same color we are! She's freaking gorgeous and darn near perfect and is OUR daughter. Period. End of sentence. OUR DAUGHTER.
At the first few rude questions I simply stared stupidly in shock, then answered honestly. However, after a few weeks of things like the lady in the grocery store who looked at her and yelled "Oh my God, is she mixed?? Oh my God, is she adopted??", I started coming up with better answers.
When asked if she is mixed I once replied, with an astonished look on my face, "Why yes, she's Irish and German! How on earth could you tell??
When asked "What is she?" I replied, "A puppy, I thought it was obvious".
My favorite was when I dropped her with her daddy at work one day and one of his interns asked "where did you get her?". Without missing a beat my husband replied "Kroger. Produce aisle".
@GraciesMom A single friend is African American and has had a caucasian child since she was 5 weeks old. When shopping when she was and infant....people would ask if she was the nanny or stare at her when she walked toward the stroller as if she was going to steal her.
Thank you for writing this article. I have heard all of these comments, questions and more in the 14 years since my daughter joined our family. If only people could just see our children for what they are: the light of our lives, our joy and our pride.
Speaking as a parent who has a son who was born to me and a daughter who was born in my heart, I can tell you absolutely that the love and pride I feel for my children is equal.
I believe strongly in nurture over nature. After a while your smiles and gestures mirror each other. People tell me that my Chinese daughter looks like me... and my background is Scandinavian/Canadian!
You and your son look like a great team! Keep up the amazing parenting!
Hi Dan, Thank you so much for this post and also for sharing your story of Noah. We too are adoptive parents and believe it or not our son's name is Noah. I greatly appreciated your list and you are so right. People say the darnedest things to us. As he has gotten older it occurs less often, but still....thank you so much for sharing your insight and experience....would love to connect with you via email or something sometime. thanks bekka
I hate when I see myself in an article or comments about stupid or insensitive people. Excuse me, I need to apologize to someone.
I know this is a rather late response... but anyhow. My connection to adoption started when my sister & her husband adopted my beautiful niece when she was 2 years old. (She's now all grown up.) They got a lot of this stuff.
And then my position changed in what I have come to know as the adoption triad - I became a birthmom. And from that perspective, there's other etiquette to be considered. Things not to ask/say:
1. How could you give away your own baby?! (also, how could you 'give up' your baby... both of these perpetuate negative language surrounding adoption, which is a beautiful thing. I have given up nobody. I made an adoption plan which I have never regretted.)
2. Who is his/her REAL father?? (This baby's 'real father' - and also 'real mother' - are the people bringing him/her home. The people who will love this baby into childhood and adulthood. The people who will wipe snotty noses, dry tears, read stories, cuddle freely... you know, the stuff that 'real parents' do. I am this baby's birthmother.)
3. How much did they pay you? (UH?! Not gonna dignify THAT with a response. I didn't do it for money.)
4. But isn't it cruel? Your daughter (who was 6 when her brother was born) will never know her sibling! (Not that it's any of your business, but actually, yeah, she does. They love each other quite a lot.)
As an adoptive mom (who adopted my stepson's child) , we had raised this child nearly since birth who is now 10, I resent the ones who KNOW we adopted her and KNOW she refers to us as MOM and DAD, yet insist on saying "your grandma" or "your grandpa" to her. Older women at our church are especially awful about this. She is our daughter, period. She does know she had other birth parents, she knows their names, she has pictures of them, etc...but we've earned the title of mom and dad, and we cherish it. Please use it as she does!
@Lisa Of COURSE she is your daughter, and you and your spouse are her parents! You get to be parents by workin' your behinds off at the job, as you well know.
People's level of peculiarity with adoption never ceases to amaze me. I am a mum and a birthmum, and I would never dream of suggesting that my birthson is my son, in the same way that my daughter is my daughter - nor would I ever intimate that his parents are not his 'real' parents.
I'm a birth mother, and when I share about placing my daughter, people often ask "didn't you love her?!" I cannot stand this question. Stop it. Of COURSE I loved her. I loved her more than I loved my own life, I loved her more than I loved anything I'd ever known, ever. And more importantly, I LOVE her still. There isn't a day that goes by that I don't think of her, that I don't wonder about her, that I don't see a child her age and wonder. I loved her so much I wanted her to have a better life than me. It's that simple. I loved her so much that my feelings were irrelevant to her happiness
I'm a South African mom via adoption and wrote something very similar a couple of years ago, you can read it here: http://www.theblessedbarrenness.co.za/?p=3493
Great post, I related to everything you've said, having been in similar situations myself!
In South Africa the first question I was asked by almost everyone is : "Did you have to settle for a black child or could you chose?" Weeks later people would ask - girl or boy?
Good post - I love the section on stupid questions
I'm new to your blog and loving it!
I'm a birth mom myself and I've heard some pretty stupid questions when I've told people my story of being pregnant in high school and placing my son--my word for it was surrender--as in, "I lovingly surrendered my son." People have asked me if it was hard to give him up---stupid question!! ... Uh.... Yeah! Bittersweet and precious and the hardest moment of my life! I've even been asked if I was paid to do it!
My son is now 17, on track to be a neurosurgeon, healthy, thriving, and happy! (I picked the parents myself and get pictures!)
Thanks for sharing this post--awesome!
My mother and her four siblings were adopted by their stepfather, and he and my grandma went on to adopt 13 more children from foster care. Their children range in age from 46 to 18. However a parent adopts a child, it is hard on everyone involved. My grandparents did an amazing thing by adopting four different sets of siblings (two sisters, two sisters and a brother, a brother and sister, and four sisters) so that those children could stay together. I have my best friend because they opened their home to these other children.
Noah is beautiful. He very clearly has a loving father, and at the end of the day, that is what matters. Family is family.
My adoptive parents are wonderful people whom I adore, but it has ALWAYS been hard for me to be adopted. Period.
Its the second time I have read this post. I still think it is so true. Why do we have to be decent to people that ask absolutely ridiculous questions? That was rhetorical. We don't, and it does not make us bad people for telling them just how ridiculous, stupid, and hurtful their comments are. I do NOT have an adopted child. What I do have is two children, that were the product of a man and woman of different race finding love and sharing that. People will ask if they are mine? Well hell yes they are mine, no matter if I am biologically connected or not, but in this case I am the birth mother. Just because they do not have the same skin tone as me, does not mean that I could not have possibly birthed them. If I perhaps had not, the question is equally ridiculous and should never be asked. I love them, I raise them to be intelligent, independent and responsible girls, because I love them and I want them to be happy and thriving adults, that makes them mine, regardless of anything else. However, children are human beings, not pets or property and therefore, they are more their own than they are mine. All that is mine, is the responsibility to them, does that come from sharing a placenta? Rhetorical again, no it does not. Was their dad, um, *whispering, black*? Why did you whisper that? They have met him, they have seen him (a lot less than I would like but maybe I should start a blog of my own for that story), so they know what they are a product of. They know I love them, and they know I loved their father and in many ways I still do. I would venture to guess, that because I do not approach things that are different than the norm as fantastic or a spectacle to be seen, my children will likely be more accepting of these types of people than I am. At this time though, they are just as disgusted and outraged.
I applaud you Dan, for putting it all out there for everyone to see. I think you are a strong person, to let the world see your pain, your anger, your frustration, the difficult to accept emotions, and still be able to read the comments too. When I post something this personal on your blogs, I never read the replies. I am not so sure I could handle it.
well i just came across your website and i started reading instead of turning off my computer and going back to sleep before my shift at work. this comment is for ALL parents. you should love your children no matter how they came into your lives. ok now with that said i can re-track a little and tell you that i am from a family that chose me and raised me and never once made me feel like an "adoptee". the only thing that i felt was hurt towards people who asked my parents why i did not look like them. well my final answer was always a two part question back at them. "do i need to be like them to be part of their family? and what makes a family?" and that usually stunned them and they usually walked away without any response. family is all different types of people who come together because they love each other just as simple as that.last but not least. Dan i will say this to you. i am so amazed by your courage. THANK YOU for OPENING your LIFE to EVERYONE ELSE!!! i am just blown away with the love you have for your son. the only advice i would give from an adoptee stand point who has given birth to three kids of her own is just keep being honest like you are on your blog with him and life will just happen.you are doing an awesome job. just keep going!!!!i am so happy that you both found each other!!!! have a great day and hopefully i will have more time to read more of your blogs tonight when i get home from work!!!!!
JUST getting to reading this one - and as an adoptee and an adopting parent in the process - THANK YOU! It's challenging to educate people about adoption. As an adoptee myself, I do my best to stay open to questions and well-intentioned statement. My parents were not incredibly warm hearted people who took in a couple of sick, stray puppies that crawled onto their back porch. They are adults who wanted a family. Their route to that family was through the California Department of Child Services. Yes, I know my bio parents, but I don't have a lot of contact with them. No, my brother and I are not genetically related. So what? The craziest question I get is "What was it like, growing up adopted?" It...was...like...growing....up.
We adopted my son from Vietnam, and we were asked on more than one occasion, "What language will he speak?" Maybe that's less offensive than it is just plain dumb.
Actually that comment about how much the kid cost is pretty accurate. Craig Lentz is the father of Noah Levi Bond. His Noah looks a lot like your adopted son, except his Noah is his real son. Yet because of the illegal actions taken to try to steal his kid under the guise of adoption he had to pay over $1million to just raise his own kid, and he was one of the blessed ones that got his kid back. Check out the YouTube channel: nounethicaladoptions. There are all kids of videos about children being stolen and sold from Guatemala, Russia, China, Haiti and the Caribbian of course all over the US and UK. Tell me, do you think any of that's right? THIS IS RUINING PEOPLE'S LIVES, MOST OF ALL THE LIVES OF THESE KIDS. So if you really care about your son and want a better world for him, you need to care about the people from which he came who are being exploited by these practices. Also if you are going to be any kind of parent to him, you need to realise adopting dosent make you special and you need to drop your attitude and stop making lists. Kids are being exploited and trafficked and we should all be concerned about that. Someone that claims to love his son so much should most of all want to make sure that adoptions are done ethically and that children aren't exploited and stolen from parents that love them and trafficked for money. You should visit and adoption triad meeting, that has adult adoptees, birth parents, and ethical adopters in it talking about what is best for these kids. A lot of your attitude and what you say is very offensive, and you seem to not even realise that or care, but I bet the day will come when your son does, so for his sake I hope you open your mind a little and visit one of those groups.
@JohnBrown5 Could you please go spew your bitterness somewhere else? This isn't the forum for it.
@JohnBrown5 You need to do better research and look at the facts of what all countries do to be sure that kids are not trafficked... I am sure there are many more kids/teens trafficked as slaves or sexual reasons than kids exploited by being adopted. There are a few apples that are not good in any barrel... do not blame all the good apples for the very few that go badly! I have 2 beautiful adopted kids whom I would not trade for the word and as they are reaching the age of 18 they want to go find their birthmoms in Colombia to meet them. They were loving placed in a 2 parent family with the means to feed and educate them.. they were not exploited. Yes, please go work on the plight of the trafficked, but reality says that adoption is not the place to help those being exploited.... slavery and sex industry are the problems there.
@JohnBrown5 Seeeeeriously? Because he chose to adopt one child, he should then be a voice for every single exploited child? Do you realize how irrational that sounds? How do you know what he is or is not teaching Noah about his bloodline? Oh wait, you don't. Stop with the presumptions and judgements. Shoulds and should nots - why are you trying to control how another human being exists? You're choosing to be offended, because of something that has happened in YOUR life. It really has next to nothing to do with the words Dan chose to share, but how you chose to interpret them.
Evil adoptions happen trust me. It happened to me but Im not saying all adoptions are bad but check out my story. http://www.reformtalk.net/2012/03/20/pennsylvania-man-gets-jenkins-ed-in-another-utah-fathers-rights-case/
My 2 boys are adopted too and they mean the world to my husband and I. Sometimes people say things without thinking it through. I just explain to them that they have 2 families that love them enough to do what is best for them. The worst thing someone said to me when we brought our youngest home was. "How could anyone give away such a beautiful little baby?" What she didn't see or understand was how much it broke her heart to place her child with someone else. To me, it shows great love and sacrifice. We love our boys' birth parents and still keep in touch. Your little boy is beautiful, btw!
Disagree. I support open communication, and believe you to be far too sensitive. "How much does a child cost?" is what is being asked, and you could offer a little coaching which is what is being solicited. That could end up in another child getting a home. After that, I understand you want to protect the little guy, but he's going to have to face those questions later anyway. Why not now, and with you? Let's take the Real Father issue for example. If he's forced to think about the issue, and mentally decide that you are in fact his real father, then he won't be making that decision when he's 16 through 21.
@GregFisher really? Have you ever been asked intrusive questions? Think. Everything Dan mentions here are only for the purient interests of the questioner. Would you ask these questions of a birth dad? Yeah, thot not. Oh, you didn't think.
I have been asked many times "How much did she cost?" right in front of my daughter. I used to get very angry but now I try to stay focused and reply,
"Are you thinking of adopting a child? I'll give you the info for our adoption agency, they will be able to answer your questions."
That usually shuts them up, though I did have a guy actually say," Oh no I just wondered how much she cost." To which I told him how incredibly rude and ignorant he was and walked away.
I love this story!! While I am not adopted my parents were not together when I was born. I was blessed with a wonderful dad at the age of 2 that is not my "real" dad. But, he chose me. Chose to love me, take care of me, give me everything that I could ever want. It is not about genetics or looks or where you came from, it is about the people that you chose and that chose you to be your family. When I was married my "real" father said all he wanted to do was to walk me down the aisle. I said sure, which may sound insensitive to my dad, but I asked my dad if he would do the honor of marrying my husband and me. We had my dad ordained for the day and he made my wedding ceremony perfect. He even had a couple cute little stories about me being the flower girl in his wedding to my mom. Now I have a child of my own and people tell me all the time that he resembles his grandpa, him and I look at each other and giggle (since technically that is not possible). There is something that I always believed, anyone can be a father, it takes someone special to be a dad!
I adopted my eldest and my second was biological (after years of fertility treatments.) When I was pregnant with T (number 2) someone came up to me, put their hand on my belly, and looking at A (number 1) said, "She made this happen." After staring at her stunned, I said, "My husband would be shocked to hear that."
YES, YES and TRIPLE YES! I am going to share this on my Facebook page but those who need to read it probably won't. My favorite insensitive comment to my husband and I after we adopted our son (who happens to be biracial) was, "Is he adopted or are you two not really a couple?" I was too stunned to come up with an appropriate response. A woman giving away free diapers in Costco asked me if he was mine, after informing me that the diaper size I told her couldn't possibly be correct. No, I found him wandering alone on the ketchup aisle. Oh, another, "How long have you had him?" And the one that stunned me to my bones when picking him up from his nanny when he was still tiny, "Oh my goodness, he is so beautiful! Are you a social worker?" Wow!
Ok, so I can't relate to these questions, but being 35 and infertile, I have people ask me all the time, "Why don't you have kids?" "Don't you like kids?" blah, blah, blah. I should write a post about things you should never ask a woman without kids.. I completely get the annoyance you feel..and I wish I would have read this post before I asked you questions about your decision to adopt. I hope I didn't offend you in any way. Thank you again for sharing your life with all of us. :)