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8 Things You Should Not Say to Adoptive Families
Lola Shahdadi

Lola Shahdadi

Contributing Writer at theParentVoice, Magazine
Trained as an American Sign Language Interpreter, Lola is a stay-at-home-mom raising her toddler in Los Angeles, California, USA. As an adoptive mother in a transracial family, Lola is the author of the blog, The Razzle Dazzle Mommy, chronicling family life and the transracial adoption experience. She is proud to be a part of tPV,.
Lola Shahdadi

We are two moms. My wife and I are white (I am of Middle Eastern descent) and our daughter, whom we adopted, is Black.

As a result, the three of us make a very diverse family, and we get asked a lot of questions. We expect this.

For us, Love is Love, and it doesn’t matter, but in the current political climate, most of the rest of this country sees it differently. As we move through the world, complete strangers, friends, as well as the family often make comments or ask questions that make us uncomfortable, at best.

I am writing this in hopes that people can better understand how we feel, and that more sensitivity will be considered when addressing adoptive families with questions or comments.

It is our responsibility as citizens of the world to not be ignorant. I hope that this list helps enlighten and inform people.

Don’t get me wrong, we don’t mind talking about our family. We love that, actually. But people ask really personal questions that wouldn’t otherwise be asked. My advice to people is this: If you want to ask questions, stick to the basics. How old is she? How are you enjoying motherhood? What are her favorite foods? Has she hit the “terrible twos” yet? The rest is, frankly, none of your business, unless we choose to share it with you.

Keep reading to understand and know more.


Lola Shahdadi 8 Things You Should Never Say to an Adoptive Family

8 Things You Should Not Say to an Adoptive Family:

1: How long have you had her?

This article was inspired by a recent experience while our family was on vacation.  A stranger asked us this very question.

We were at an aerial tramway shuttle stop, waiting to go on an 8500 ft. trek up a mountain in Palm Springs, California. We were at the front of a group of about 30 people. A woman, man, and young teenager cut the line, and the woman kept staring at us so I smiled at her. In her loudest possible speaking voice, she said, “How long have you had her?” The crowd went silent, and all eyes turned our way. I could almost hear the air go out of my wife, so I answered, “Since birth.” She then said, “Since birth?! Oh, I thought that she was from another country.” I shut that shit down with silence and a blank stare right there.

I shut that shit down with silence and a blank stare right there. Click To Tweet

Do not ask families this question. And, do not make brazen assumptions about the family dynamic especially when it is your very first time speaking to them! A biological family would not be asked by a stranger how long they had sex before they conceived. Just take the knowledge that we are a different sort of family and move on. You have no idea the potential ramifications of this sort of “interviewing” can have on a person’s (let along a child’s) psyche, so please, just don’t!

Just take the knowledge that we are a different sort of family and move on. Click To Tweet

2: Is she yours? ….She is?!?

When Ella was 10 months old, I was forced to detour through a department store to use their stroller-accessible elevator and that was a conversation that I got stuck having with an employee who was in the elevator with us.

It is 2017. If people have kids with them, assume that they belong together, and leave it at that. If they tell you that they are the parent, they probably are.

A biological family won't t be asked by a stranger how long they had sex before they conceived. Click To Tweet

3: Are you worried that she will want to find her real mother?

No. And, we are her real mothers.

We have celebrated the fact that Ella was adopted from the very beginning. It was the most important day of our lives.

Ella won’t have to go looking for her birth parents. If she does decide to try to connect with them, that is always an option for her because we have contact with her birth parents. That contact has given us an avenue to learn more about them and has given them the knowledge that Ella is part of a family who loves and adores her. We have the chance to tell them that the life that they wished for her is the one that she has. No worries at all here.

The decision to learn more/visit with/have a relationship with her birth parents is Ella’s choice and a family matter.

Consider the fact that you have little to no information about the situation before you jump to the deep stuff.

4: Are you worried about the fact that she doesn’t have a male role model in her life?

No. Why assume that she doesn’t have wonderful male role models in her life? She has male relatives and we have close male friends. We are a 2-mom family, but we don’t live on an all-female compound on an island. The world will provide her many opportunities for balance and the chance to meet male-identifying folks.

Lola Shahdadi 8 Things You Should Never Say to an Adoptive Family

The Children’s Court judge who finalized Ella’s adoption, Judge Pellman. The author, Lola Shahdadi and her wife, Lynne, are now the proud parents of Baby Ella.

5: Didn’t you want to have your own children?

I didn't give birth to her, but that doesn't make her any less ours. Click To Tweet

I do have my own child. I didn’t give birth to her, but that doesn’t make her any less ours. Do people ask you why you didn’t adopt? Adoption is a legal, permanent process, which ends with court papers that legally bind us as parents to our child.

Again, the path people travel to love a child who happens to be adopted is a personal matter. If Ella looked like me, nobody would ask this. If we do not offer the story, perhaps it would be more constructive to ask what the adoption process was like for us, if you really want to know.


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8 Things You Should Never Say to Adoptive Families


6: God bless you for what you’ve done. You saved a life.

Thank you, but why? We wanted a baby, so we adopted.

I feel like the luckiest person on the planet for this gift of my daughter. And, please, don’t forget that.

The gift was to us, not the other way around. Our child is not a charity case. She was a newborn in perfect health. Many families want this very situation. I wanted nothing more than to be a mother. I feel like the luckiest person on the planet for this gift of my daughter. And, please, don’t forget that.

7: How much did you pay for her?

Um… here’s a nice cold can of None of Your Business! Drink it.

We did not purchase a car or a house. We adopted a child. Click To Tweet

I’m sorry, but we did not purchase a car or a house. We adopted a child. The fees for adoption depend on many things. Unless you are planning to adopt, you do not need to know this information. If you really need to know, open with the reason you’re asking and then we can talk.




Lola Shahdadi - 8 Things You Should Never Say to an Adoptive Family

Baby Ella. Photo Credit: Sarah Fletcher/Fletcher Photography

8: How could they have given her up?

This hurts my heart to hear. It comes from a place of judgment, and it isn’t okay. First, Ella was lovingly relinquished at the hospital, at birth, and we brought her home from there. I don’t know why the decision was made, but I get the feeling from my interaction with her birth parents that it had everything to do with what was best for Ella. It is, in reality, the greatest act of pure love imaginable.

We are not a less than authentic family because we came to be through adoption. Click To Tweet

Children are placed for adoption for more reasons than anyone can possibly comprehend. In many situations, parental rights are revoked by the courts because parents have failed to care for the child at the most basic level. In the case of a voluntary relinquishment, it probably boils down to the fact that birth parents don’t feel that they can provide that basic care adequately.

We are not a less than authentic family because we came to be through adoption.

We made the conscious choice to become a family. Some aspects of our adoption process and life are private. We are not a less than authentic family because we came to be through adoption. So please, be sensitive to the privacy that every family deserves. Consider how these questions might affect the parents and the child. Talk with us about our family. Make observations about our dynamic, if you like.. Just do it with respect.

Lola Shahdadi 8 Things You Should Never Say to an Adoptive Family

 

Want to share your own adoption story with us? Write to theteam@theparentvoice.com.


This post was originally published on the author’s personal blog, The Razzle Dazzle Mommy




 

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the author

Trained as an American Sign Language Interpreter, Lola is a stay-at-home-mom raising her toddler in Los Angeles, California, USA. As an adoptive mother in a transracial family, Lola is the author of the blog, The Razzle Dazzle Mommy, chronicling family life and the transracial adoption experience. She is proud to be a part of tPV,.

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