Thursday, August 17, 2006

Teaching the language of adoption

The following is an excerpt from an article I found on one of our web sites that we frequent. It was written by Robin Hillborn. It is addressed to teachers, but I believe everyone can learn from it. You can read the entire article for yourself by clicking on this link. Scroll down and look for "Teaching the language of adoption".

As a teacher, you need to get comfortable with the language of adoption. You have to be ready for children (and adults) who use inappropriate language ... the ones who ask questions like "Why did her mother give her away?" or "Who is her real mother?"
The joyful side of adoption is tempered by the fact that adoption involves loss. Adoptees live with the painful fact that their birthparents could not (or would not) care for them. It is hard to speak of these things to very young children. Yet, as significant adults in a child's life, teachers must at times enter the child's world to help her cope with difficult feelings and to feel positive about who she is.

The language we use is important, since the way we speak of sensitive topics models confidence and courage on the one hand, or shame and fear on the other ...

It's not a disability

You can join a family by way of birth or by adoption. The fact of adoption says nothing about an adopted child herself ... adoption is a way of arriving in a family, not a medical condition or a disability. It's a one-time event, so you would say "Maria was adopted", not "Maria is adopted."

Birth or adoption: either way of joining a family is perfectly acceptable. Adoption builds healthy, happy families -- parent and child are linked by law and by love.

A side note: This has only happened once, but we have had someone approach us upon learning that our son was adopted and they said in front of our son, "Oh, how lucky he is to have been given a better chance and live a better life". This is not something to say and especially to a child who was adopted. My husband and I are the fortunate ones. We are so blessed to be given the opportunity to raise a child that God gave to us. Raising a child, whether adopted or natural, is really no different. We still have our moments of struggle and moments of laughter. Regardless of who you are and where you came from you are a gift from God.

1 comment(s):

DramaQueen said...

This was a great post. I really appreciate you saying "adoption isn't a condition or a disability, it was a one-time event..." and how we say so and so was adopted, rather than "is" adopted. I think a lot of times we try to be nice and mean well but then we end up saying things that are harsh or hurtful just because we don't know any better!