IT’S REPEAT WEEK ON SINGLE DAD LAUGHING! I’m busy getting ready for our next SDLHC Tough Mudder this Saturday, so here’s an oldie from the earliest days of SDL. Edited and tweaked just a bit. And while this hasn’t been so much an issue for Noah and me lately, I chose to rerun this post because this week a census taker stopped by and had some rather insensitive questions of her own when it came to adoption. But that’s another story for another week.
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 his son.
Maybe you see a beautiful bond.
Maybe you just see love.
Maybe you see two awesome human beings.
Maybe you see a child who looks up to his dad with a truly honest expression plastered to his face that says, “that guy right there… That’s MY dad.”
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, a woman 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 quarter-Panamanian, quarter-Jamaican, and half-Caucasian. Noah is my son. Noah was adopted. Trust me, I couldn’t pass on any sort of genetics to a kid this beautiful.
And since he was placed with his mom and me, his parents, I have learned just how insensitive and thoughtless 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. People don’t realize that their own assumptions of what my child knows and doesn’t know might not be accurate.
And because of all that, I present to you the following list of 12 different adoption etiquette rules, all taken from personal experiences in the first few years of my kiddo’s life:
Single Dad Laughing’s Guide to Adoption Etiquette (for those who want to be decent humans)
Never, ever, ever, ask someone how much a child costs.
This includes the phrase, “how much did you pay for him?” First of all, it’s none of your damn business. Second of all, if you’re interested in adoption, or you are asking because you know someone interested in adoption, research it through the appropriate channels, i.e. speak with an adoption agency. Adoptive parents don’t purchase their children. They simply pay legal fees, and agency fees… Just like biological parents pay hospital and doctor bills. Don’t turn someone else’s child into little more than a business transaction.
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? Did Flavor Flav biologically fathering 7 children influence your decision to have kids? Think. Then speak.
Never ask the question: “so… where is his real dad?”
Forget the fact that it will hurt my feelings, which it would if I wasn’t already so used to the insensitivity. How do you think it will affect my son’s feelings to feel like I’m somehow 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!”
Don’t say that when you find out somebody is thinking about adopting or in the process of adopting. First of all, there are usually many, many years of pain and financial burden strapped to infertility, treatments, and heartache, much of which you don’t know about. Do you really think that what you’re saying will make them laugh? It won’t. Secondly, while it is funny when it happens, it’s rare, and it’s just an added bonus.
Never say, “why did she give him away?”
Also don’t say, “Why did she give him up?” Do I really need to explain why these ones would hurt a child who was adopted? The proper term is “placed.” A birth mother and birth father place their child for adoption. And again, it is personal and none of your business, so don’t ask if you aren’t my BFF.
Don’t say, “wow! 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.