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.
I understand that I’m not being super politically correct here, but I’m a little bit ticked off about what happened today. And understandably, so is the old woman I sent away with a major grunt of disapproval. I know she meant no harm.
Dan Pearce, Single Adoptive Dad Laughing
PS, do me a favor and share this one. 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.”