November is national adoption month. Here are my tremendous (j/k) myth-busting insights about adoption. Adoptive parent friends, feel free to add your insights in the comments!
My kids are not “lucky” to be adopted. I am fortunate, to be their mother, but no one in our scenario is lucky. They’ve been through hell and back a few times, have suffered tremendous loss in losing their biological parents and family, and will struggle their entire lives. Having a parent who loves and cares for you is a basic human right, not “luck.”
I am my kids’ “real” parent. I am not holographic. They have two moms – their biological mom and their adoptive mom. We’re both moms. One doesn’t trump the other. Life is not a card game.
My kids’ black hair is gorgeous and natural and has been for years. It’s also the thing that has been the most weirdly confrontational over the last 11 years. I’ve had women stop their cars just so they can confront me in my own front yard about how shameful my kids’ hair is, and do that right in front of my children. We’ve had women wave us over to their cars so they can roll down their windows and shame us. Etc. Etc. Kudos to men who may have thought those thoughts, but who have never said them out loud to me or my kids. Eventually, I had cards printed that we could hand out to people and walk away, because I didn’t like what it was doing to my children.
Because I fostered my kids first, I used vouchers for their clothes, and WIC cards, and anything else that the government would give me, and I got LOTS of ugly stares from big-haired Baptist ladies. I still get a monthly subsidy that pays a portion of our mortgage. I’ve never received anything close to the amount of money it takes to actually raise a child, especially a child with lots and lots of needs, though. Thank God for Soonercare, Oklahoma’s Medicaid program, which provides great healthcare benefits to my kids. If it were not for Soonercare, we’d be living in a hovel, literally. If you know big-haired Baptist ladies, educate them about Jesus and orphans, please.
Adopting is not for everyone. Chat with someone who will be honest with you before you jump in. Frankly, I was an idiot when I began fostering. It is by the grace of God and sheer stubbornness that I am still a parent. It is not rainbows and unicorns. If it’s not for you, you can still help out by
- Electing people who actually fund basic services like quality childcare and mental health care, so that there are fewer orphans in our world;
- Help out an adoptive parent by watching their kids, mowing their lawn, or just sending them a nice note letting them know they’re awesome.
- If you’re capable, spend some cash on an adoptive family. Buy dinner, give them a gift card, whatever.
Being a single adoptive parent is in many ways much easier than being a married adoptive parent. If you have an awesome marriage, seriously yay you. You go do that thing. If your marriage has some cracks in it, those cracks will just get more pronounced after adoption.
Every single horror film and TV crime drama portrays the worst serial-killing pedophiles as people who were fostered and adopted. Every single one. It’s a cliche at this point. When the kids were little I just made up reasons why we didn’t watch certain shows, and now we just make fun of the fact that it’s a cliche.
“I’ll bet you $10 the psycho killer was a foster kid.”
“I’m not taking that bet.”
One of the reasons I love the sadly-ended, super cheesy show Bones, was because the heroine was a former foster kid who became a world-renowned expert in her field and had a great life. We still watch that darn show. One spring we found a cat carcass in our shed, and the kids asked if we could study it like they do on Bones.
Holidays and trauma anniversaries suck! Often they are one in the same for adoptive kiddos. Holidays are the equivalent of a Disney vacation. Everyone is spending a lot of time and money desperately trying to make everything magical, and magic doesn’t really happen that way. We are seriously chill about the holidays, because that’s what works best for us, not because it’s what I imagined my grown-up life would be.
Finally, my kids are awesome. They are literally and by far the best thing that ever happened to me. They have a broader perspective than most 40-year-olds, and they will not put up with your shit. I’ve had many a teacher conversation that went like this, “yeah, sadly she doesn’t respect you, and so nothing you do is going to be effective. You can have a chat with her and discuss solutions together, making it clear that you respect her, and that might work, but just telling her to do something when she doesn’t respect you is going to make your life hell. You can transfer her to a different class if that’s more doable. No hard feelings.” They challenge me every day, and parenting them is literally the hardest and most fabulous thing I will ever do.
Big love, people!