I Wish People Knew…. an eighth grader speaks out about adoption and foster care

This week’s post is from “E” — age 14:

As her mom noted, “She’s got a lot of thoughts brewing and I hope these are useful.”

I wish people knew…Adoption is about finding parents for children who need them. NOT for adults who want to “Get a baby.”I wish they knew that Children are in foster care not in it because of anything the child did, but because the adults in their life either were unable to or couldn’t figure out the best way to take care of them. I wish they knew that once a kid is three years old in foster care the chances are then very small that they will ever be adopted. I wish people knew kids over three years old are people too, and they deserve love.

I am amazed at how many people still think foster care is where people dump their ‘bad kids’.

I wish people knew...kids in foster care are taken, not ‘given up.’ It is for the kid’s safety, and every single case is different – but NEVER because the kid did something wrong. It is sad for all kinds of reasons but there are some really good foster parents. I wish people knew that. Not all birth parents are bad, some just need extra help. And not all foster families are terrible, a lot of them are really nice and just want to help and give kids a safe place to live for a while or even forever.

There are not enough foster families or social workers,and they all work a ton. Social and adoption workers do not get paid enough.

I wish people knew and would teach their kids that there are other kinds of families besides the kind made up of parents and some bio kids. Kids in my classes (I’m in 8th grade!) act like they’ve never heard of adoption. They ask ridiculous questions like Why did my mom not want me, and Where is your real mom? Those are awful things to say to someone, but kids in my school think they are perfectly fine things to say.

Their parents have not taught them about adoption, or other families, or about kindness, I guess.

I wish people would... Not think of adoption as a last resort, only for when they can’t have a kid of “their own.”

I wish people would not think of adoption as a way for them to “Get a baby.” Adoption is not about adults and what they want. It is about kids and what they need. Adoption is not ‘Buying a baby.’ Adopting from foster care should not be a last resort either.

People only want perfect babies and that is sad, when you think about the kids in foster care who need parents. They are just people who need someone to love them. Not everyone can handle a kid who has been abused, but they don’t need to act like the abused kids are worthless. A kid is just as worthy of love if they are not a newborn or related by DNA to the parents.

Not all kids want to find or meet their birth parents. Some kids do, and I wish people would not freak out about that and think wanting that means a kid is not ‘grateful’ enough to adoptive parents. White parents adopting children of color need to make sure they have people of color in their lives for their kids to know.

I wish people would stop assuming I am Chinese, and that I was adopted from China. I am neither. But I have friends who were, and they get tired of people asking them if they speak Chinese. Most of them don’t. I don’t know what a ‘Gotcha Day’ is and I think that phrase sounds awful. It seems to be a cute way to describe a kid who has lost their birth family and is now ‘gotten’ by other people, and I don’t think that is a cute thing. It’s very serious. But also some people are fine with this. I wish people would know that many religions, like the Catholic Church, do not think gay parents should be allowed to adopt children. I wish people would know how stupid and cruel that is, and think for themselves and not listen to religion when it says to be cruel.

I wish people wouldn’t.…Say that kids who have been adopted should be especially ‘Grateful’. That makes it sound like a kid who has been adopted is bad and they should be so grateful that anyone bothered to be nice to them at all. Kids didn’t ask to be born, or to be abused, or to be an orphan or in foster care.

I wish people would’t blame kids who have been in foster care for any not great behavior. They need help, not blame.

I wish people wouldn’t tell me how I’m supposed to feel, or tell me they know for a fact that I have a “Primal Wound.” (Gross! And not true!) I wish people wouldn’t use the word “Adopted” as an adjective. It is a past tense verb. Some people who have been adopted don’t care about this. I do.

I wish people would just ask if they have questions – but THINK FIRST, if the question is unkind or insulting.

“Where were you born?” = Good.

“Why didn’t your mom want you?” = Bad.

There are families with one parent, two dads or moms, no kids, one kid, ten kids, different ethnicities – and a lot of the white families with birth kids I know really often don’t seem to understand this. And that is crazy! It is 2017! I wish those parents wouldn’t act like their lives are the only ones that matter or are real.

I am so very grateful to “E” and the other brave contributors to this series, I WISH PEOPLE KNEW. 

If you are a parent, child, or sibling of adoption interested in sharing your thoughts, use the contact form on my web site or leave a message in the comments below. Here’s a link to the first post in this series which explains the details.

A few guest bloggers have asked for a bit more time, so check back in a few weeks for the next posts. I believe this is an important, ongoing conversation. I hope you do too. 

I Wish People Knew…part 5…by Tess, age 11

Today’s post is from Tess, who came to the US from her birth country, China.

There are no known records of her biological parents.

In lieu of a photo of Tess, here’s an illustration by Luciana Navarro Powell of Adar’s new baby sister, Grace, from our picture book, BABIES COME FROM AIRPORTS. I am so thankful for–and impressed by–the extensive research Luciana Navarro Powell did in order to depict Grace’s journey from China with utmost respect and accuracy.

Our guest contributor, Tess, recently celebrated her 11th birthday.

1. I wish people knew…. that I would like to know more about my birth parents and it is hard that I cannot.

2. I wish people would… not judge.

3. I wish people wouldn’t…. look at me oddly when I am with my family.   Everyone looks at me oddly because I don’t look like them.

Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts, Tess. What important reminders to all.

As our guest blogger Hannah said in last week’s post: No Adoption Looks the Same:

The world is full of all types of people from different backgrounds and I AM one of those people. We should all try and judge a little less, and accept a little more.

Happy 11th Birthday, dear Tess.

I hope it’s the start of a wonderful year for you! 

If you are a parent, child, or sibling of adoption interested in sharing your thoughts, use the contact form on my web site or leave a message in the comments below. Here’s a link to the first post in this series which explains the details.  

Stop by next week for a guest post from from “E” — age fourteen.      

I Wish People Knew… part 4 “No adoption looks the same.”

I Wish People Knew… by Hannah Wasserman

–continued from an earlier post.

I wish people would realize that not everything is based on a person’s appearance.

More specifically, I wish people knew family has nothing to do with appearance. I have had people think that my brother is my boyfriend and that my sister is my daughter, and yet I look nothing like either of them.

I grew up in a small town where there wasn’t a lot of diversity. I realize that even though I knew I looked different from all my friends, peers, and family I never felt different. I was just a normal teenager trying to get through school; just a normal sister who loved her family immensely and fought with her brother and sister; just a normal girl growing up trying to find her way in life just like everyone else.

College was another story. 

Initially, when suddenly there were other Asian American men and women around–and because I had been so used to being the only Asian person around–my reaction was to feel like everyone else shouldn’t be there; that it was only supposed to be me. (!) Ironically, this is when I began to compare myself with others. I became very aware of how I looked, and how I looked to other people. I know this sounds ridiculous. I hated that I was judging others, but judging them for what…looking like me?

Thankfully, this phase passed. Eventually I became less and less aware of how others looked, and less self conscious about how others might perceive me. The world is full of all types of people from different backgrounds and I AM one of those people. We should all try and judge a little less, and accept a little more.

I have learned that that when people try to understand things that are foreign or different than themselves, in order to make sense of it, they want to put a label on what you are, or what they assume you are.

I want people to know that families today are complex and no family looks the same, no adoption looks the same. People need to realize that there is no right way to be a family.

I wish people would ask more questions. I am a person who is completely happy to talk about my adoption and life experiences with others who are interested. I would rather someone ask me questions, than make assumptions. Asking questions is how we learn about people who are different from us and accept one another. Adoption is more common than you may think and it deserves to be talked about to children and adults.

ps. I LOVE the last sentence in BABIES COME FROM AIRPORTS:

“Babies come from love.”

I am incredibly thankful for, and inspired by guest contributors like Hannah who are willing and eager to tell their stories.  Look for more thoughts from Hannah in posts to come. 

If you are a parent, child, or sibling of adoption interested in sharing your thoughts, use the contact form on my web site or leave a message in the comments below. Here’s a link to the first post in this series which explains the details.  

Stop by next week for a guest post from Tess– age eleven.   

I Wish People Knew…part 3: a teen shares her thoughts on adoption

I Wish People Knew… by Taylor Kelly-McMahon

I wish people knew that it doesn’t matter why someone is adopted. As long as they have good support from their adopted parents, and are genuinely happy with their surroundings, then nothing else should matter.

I wish people knew not all adopted kids sit around wondering why our birth parents decided to give us up for adoption. Most other people I know who are adopted are very content with their lives, and could not picture it another way.

I know that I am very happy right where I am, and very happy that I was adopted because I doubt that I would know any of the wonderful people I know today. And I definitely wouldn’t be writing this.

 

Thank you so much, Taylor, for sharing your thoughts. I’m so glad you DID write this!

Taylor Kelly-McMahon is a junior in high school. She loves tap dancing and is going to the Oregon Regional Thespian conference this weekend with “Good Mornin’” from SINGIN’ IN THE RAIN which she put together with two other boys–and what a timely tribute coming on the heels of the passing of the wonderful Debbie Reynolds. She is hoping to attend a small Liberal Arts college when she graduates. Future goals include writing for tv, and working in a collaborative atmosphere with other writers. 

If you are a parent, child, or sibling of adoption interested in sharing your thoughts, use the contact form on my web site or leave a message in the comments below. Here’s a link to the first post in this series which explains the details.  

Stop by next week for a second guest post from Hannah, whom you met in part 1 of  I Wish People Knew. 

I Wish People Knew… a mother shares her thoughts on adoption

Illus: Luciana Navarro Powell BABIES COME FROM AIRPORTS Kane Miller Books

A Mother’s Response

I wish people knew that the love in your heart is no different whether your family member is adopted or biological.

My mom secretly confided after my child arrived via the airport, that she had been afraid that she wouldn’t love her adopted grandchild as much as her other bio grandchildren.

Within seconds of getting off the airplane she had her new grandchild in her arms beginning a relationship that is still extremely close. And she proudly confided that she was relieved to say that she loves them all the same!!

I wish people would not use the term “real” when asking about my child’s birth family or when asking if I am the “real” mom.*

I wish people would understand that you don’t have to look alike to be a family and not all adopted children want the fact that they may look different from other family members to be the main topic of conversation.  Honestly, I don’t even think about the fact that my child doesn’t look like me.

Many thanks to today’s guest contributor, Kathy, who contacted me after reading Hannah’s post last week. 

*Another mom wrote to say her preferred phrases are

  1. family formed through adoption
  2. birth parents, (mom or dad)
  3. life parents, though there are many other good phrases out there.

She added, “I can’t stand [the terms] real parents, blood sibling or blood parents. My 2 cents!”

If you are a parent, child, or sibling of adoption interested in sharing your thoughts, use the contact form on my web site or leave a message in the comments below. Here’s a link to the first post in this series which explains the details.  

Stop by next week for a guest post from Taylor.