This post has been written and rewritten in my mind a hundred times. For the last eight and a half years every time someone hears that we are adopting/have adopted I have heard them say some variation on “you are such special people!”. It isn’t true. We are not great, we are not special. We struggle, we worry, we question our sanity, we make mistakes, we cry, we do the wrong thing at the wrong time, we are normal human beings who wanted a family. Our family might look different, and we might experience the additions of children differently, but that doesn’t make us somehow better than the next mother or father. Here are a couple examples:
I don’t like to be uncomfortable. I would rather do paperwork than deal with morning sickness. That does not make me special, that makes me a wimp.
I love to travel, I would rather fly halfway around the world to hold my new son or daughter in my arms than drive to the local hospital. That does not make me special, that makes me self indulgent.
I don’t like to be poked and prodded any more than is absolutely necessary. I would rather get a couple vaccinations for foreign travel than endure nine months of doctor visits. That does not make me special, that makes me a wuss.
You get the picture, right?
Another one I hear often is along the lines of “you’re such a blessing to these children!” Well, I hope and pray I can live up to that one, but in reality THEY are the blessing to us, not the other way around. I liken it to receiving a book you have been wanting for a very long time. It arrives and you carefully remove it from its packaging, doing your absolute best not to mar it in any way. You lovingly hold it to your chest and breath in that wonderful new book smell. You wrap your arms around it and vow you will read it the first chance you get. Now think of that book. You do not want the book for what you will give it, but for what it will give you. You do not hold it so that it will feel your hands, but for you to feel its pages. You do not read it for what thoughts you can share, but for what insight it will give you. Wanting a book is different than wanting a child, and my description seems a bit self serving. Of course I WANT to be a blessing to my children just as much as the next mother. I want to care for their needs and train them to be wonderful additions to this world, but at the end of the day MY life is richer and fuller and more blessed because my children were a part of it!
So the next time you feel the need to tell an adoptive parent that they’re special, or great, or a blessing, try this instead: “Your family is very blessed to all be together!” or “It will be such a blessing once you’re all together!” Those words work really well at touching the adoptive parent’s heart (as does “How can I help you out this week?”, but I’ll save that for another post!)