Jackie: Before curiosity gets the best of you - take a breath and think about what you're saying.
International adoption has gotten a lot of attention recently with Brad and Angelina regularly expanding their family, and Madonna getting the government go-ahead this week to adopt her son David from Malawi. An article in this week's Newsweek sheds light on the difficulties, sadness, and potential devastation behind international adoption. But the challenges outlined in the article aren't the norm for most adoptive parents. Sometimes, the biggest obstacle is not the adoption itself, but the comments and questions tossed out at parents while they're in the grocery store, at the dry cleaner, or in line at Starbucks. As it takes a village to raise a child, it's the (perhaps unwitting) village idiot who feels compelled to ask stupid questions, not even considering the damage their words can do to an innocent child.
One of our own momlogic Moms is in the process of adopting a baby girl and has already endured the "You're so nice to adopt a kid who's unwanted" and "That's much easier than giving birth" comments. She's now preparing herself for some of the outrageous questions that fellow adoptive parents have been asked by "curious" onlookers like...
• Why didn't his/her real parents want them?
• How much did he/she cost?
• Can't you have kids of your own?
• Watch, you'll get pregnant now and have your own kid.
• There are plenty of American kids who need homes, why did you go there?
Do you want to help someone who's adopting or has already adopted a child? Recognize that, like all new parents, they need support and friendship (and a solo trip to the bathroom)--not judgement. Here are five things you can do to make a difference:
1. Feed them. Like new parents, there are sleepless nights and a period of time where everyone is trying to get to know each other. A warm meal would be a huge help to a transitioning family.
2. Skip the daily reminder. Parents are well aware how their child came to be in their family. There are enough challenges with multi-cultural families without it being pointed out every day.
3. Let them talk. Motherhood is tough regardless of how one becomes a Mom. Adoptive parents sometimes feel afraid to share their struggles or frustrations. Be a good listener--it's the best way to show you care. It is said that 65 percent of Moms who adopt experience some sort of post-adoption depression. Keep your eyes and ears open, and help out where you can.
4. Pop the cork. When new babies are born, everyone lines up to ooh and aah over the newborn. Adoptive families are just as excited about their new addition, and it would be nice if others joined them in the celebration.
5. Give them a break. Whether your friend or sister has adopted and never calls back, or a Mom at school is behind on her bake sale duties, remember, a new child is a big change. Be kind and cut them some slack.