Nearly every time someone discovers that we’ve adopted, there are a series of questions that follow. It’s understandable. We’re living in a time when God is highlighting adoption among believers even as it makes the headlines with a nearly-weekly celebrity adoption of some sort. In that environment, many people find themselves asking the question ‘is adoption for me?’.
Even though it might seem invasive at times, we really don’t mind answering the questions – who doesn’t like to talk about one of the best parts of their own life? Asking us about adoption will likely generate a torrent of information that goes far beyond what you’ve asked!
Here are some of the more regularly asked questions that we find ourselves answering.
Where are they from?
Particularly with Zoe, people often assume we adopted internationally. Her beautiful bronze skin and spiral curls often lead people to guess that she’s Colombian or Bolivian. Wrong on both counts. Zoe came from Las Vegas, Nevada.
Many people are drawn to international adoptions for all the right reasons – the dire need, a specific burden for a region, etc. – but some end up going internationally simply because they think that there are no babies available in the United States. This is not true. If you’re open to another race – and most people considering international adoption certainly are – then you can probably adopt more quickly in the US. We love international adoption as well – and it all counts! – but in our case, our girls with Made in the USA labels.
Do you love them like you love your own kids?
This is probably the #1 question that goes unasked. People – particularly people who already have children – wonder ‘does the feeling transfer?’
We can only speak from our own experience, but in both adoptions, from the moment we laid eyes on them, they were every bit as much ours as our biologically born children. (Side note – I have yet to land on a designation for the children God allowed us to bear that I’m happy with. “Biologically born children” sounds like the adoptees were hatched. “Naturally born” leaves me wondering too. Suggestions?).
I always smile when people would refer to their adopted child and say “we really forget they’re adopted…” because I can totally understand. I love telling our adoption stories, but I really don’t think of my adopted daughters any differently than I do the others. Some wondered if this would change with the birth of Piper, because before Piper, we had biologically born sons and adopted daughters, but it hasn’t affected things.
I have sons and daughters. I delight in them all in unique ways, but none in a way lesser than another.
Did you meet their birth mom?
No. And Yes. I’ll explain.
This question usually goes deeper. What people are asking is about the adoption itself – is it open, closed, or something in between. The answer to that is both/and.
Zoe’s adoption was closed at the request of her birthmom. We did meet her for a few minutes in the hospital lobby but the interaction was very brief. We learned more about her through paperwork we received earlier. As part of the adoption, she requested a few photos the first year of Zoe’s life, which we sent through a social worker.
The twins’ adoption was different. Their birthmom wanted to meet us before making her decision, so we spent an hour or so with her in the hospital shortly after the girls were born. We exchanged names and phone numbers and have had a number of phone conversations and photo exchanges since they were born.
In both adoptions, we knew going in how much contact the birth mom wanted or did not want and agreed. We know people who have had far less contact, and others who have had far more. All of this is almost always decided before hand with the help of a social worker so that no one is surprised or disappointed. Is there a perfect way? Yes. It’s the one you’re most comfortable with that still allows the birth mom the most peace of mind that she’s made a good decision.
Are they totally yours?
Our daughters are completely, 100%, totally ours. In both cases, we had some legal right to them shortly after returning to Missouri, then full rights in a process called ‘finalization’. Zoe’s finalization took about 10 months. The twins went much faster, finalizing in just over 90 days.
Every state has a predetermined period during which a birth mom can change her mind. In most states, it’s 72 hours, although it can be as short as 24 hours or a number of weeks. After that period has passed, an adoptive parent has significantly more legal rights. Once the adoption is finalized, it is almost impossible for things to change providing they were done correctly to begin with.
Will you tell them?
This question has already been answered for us in the sense that Zoe’s Latino and African American roots and the twins’ 1/4 Japanese, 1/4 Thai, 1/2 Caucasian mix are going to make some things obvious to them at a young age. We won’t decide if we tell them – we’ll decide what we’ll tell them.
Chances are we won’t pick the place of discussion…that some day, a few days before we might feel ready, they will ask. I don’t have a speech written out, but there are certain things I want them to know….your birth mother was a very brave woman who did something very difficult so that you could have a good life…we carried you from the hospital and we never looked back….love is a choice and we chose you.
Honestly, I have mixed emotions about this discussion. I harbor apprehension that the enemy would lie to them, leading them to believe a lie about their identity. I also have an element of excitement to share with them the full extent of how far God went to rescue them and that as gifts of God, they have been the joy of my life. I’m sure we’ll stammer through it and love each other on the other side.
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There you have the top 5. Of course there are dozens more, but most of them fall roughy into one of the five above.
If you have other questions, feel free to ask via comments or by emailing me from the sidebar.
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