The following chart may come in handy over the holidays, as you will be attending family and public gatherings, where well-intentioned individuals might know your child is adopted, but are nervous about what to say to connect with your family or child.
We all get nervous in different situations, but when nervousness concerns the topic of adoption and your child, hurtful remarks are often made, not necessarily out of a desire to hurt, but a desire to connect.
Sometimes, People Are Downright Mean
On the other hand, sometimes mean people intend to hurt. I’ve heard such comments to adoptees as:
- Why don’t you go back to where they grow bananas?
- Where are your real parents?
- Your first mom didn’t love you.
- Look at your chink eyes.
- Why is your skin different than your parents?
- You don’t really belong anywhere.
- You’re an illegitimate child.
You can not only advocate for your child by giving adoption-sensitive answers after the comment is made, but you can also educate the uneducated.
Your child will not only love you for your advocacy, but will trust you increasingly in tough times.
Explanation of the Heart Language Chart
I’m sharing a list here of:
- The core desire to connect with the child (why the person wants to connect)
- The well-intentioned that often follows the desire
- How many adopted and foster kids may translate the well-intentioned statement
- What is the heart language of the adoptee (what really connects with him/her).
This chart is drawn from my book, 20 THINGS ADOPTIVE PARENTS NEED TO SUCCEED (Available on this site).
Remember that I’m speaking from my own adoptee voice, not for every adoptee or foster child.
THE HEART LANGUAGE OF ADOPTED AND FOSTER CHILDREN
|Desire to Connect with Child||Well-Intentioned But Insensitive Statement||How Many Adopted & Foster Kids Might Translate||HEART language–Words that Connect with Adoptee|
|Child will not feel rejected; cast good light on first mother.||Your birth mother loved you SO much that she gave you to us!||“Love is what got rid of me. Why would I want your love?”||Your birth parents weren’t able/ready to parent ANY child at that time.|
|Create a sense of being wanted.||You are a chosen child!
(Every other parent is stuck with kid…we picked you out.”)
|“I might have been chosen, but first I was given away.”||You have 2 sets of parents, one who gave you birth and another that gave you home(s) and love.|
|Instill attitude of thanksgiving for being adopted.||Accentuate the Positive!(Count your blessings…. count them one by one…)||“Only say nice things about adoption.”||Everything in life is filled with pain and pleasure. That includes being adopted.|
|Describe parentage||Illegitimate||“I am a mistake.”||You are God’s idea.|
|Create self-esteem||You are special!||“That makes me feel different in a yucky way.”||You were born special—a unique weaving together of nature and nurture with incredible potential.||PS…It is fine to tell child he/she is special…just not in the context of being adopted or fostered.|
|Foster sense of belonging||We love you JUST LIKE our own!||“If I’m not your own, then whose am I?”||What would our family be without you?|
|Desire for child to not talk about first family.||Dead silence!||“Why don’t you ever talk about my birth parents? They must be really bad…and I must be, too, because I came from them.”||We love your birth parents and are so grateful for their contribution to your life.|
|Religious lady’s discomfort with child’s adoption.||Well, we’re ALL adopted.||“Why do you say everyone’s adopted? Everyone isn’t adopted.”||I would love to hear your adoption story.|
I highly recommend this workbook for training your children how to respond in a healthy way to unhealthy remarks by setting boundaries: W.I.S.E. Up Powerbook. Order here: . Wise Up! Powerbook: Marilyn Schoettle: 9780971173200: Amazon.com: Books
There is also a book for children in foster care: Order here: https://adoptionsupport.org/store
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