April 23, 2014

I’m NOT an Adoptive Parent; I am a Parent!

OK, I’m HOT and I admit it! If there is one thing that can easily make the top-5 on my “You Have Just Crossed the Line and Really Pissed Me Off!”  list it is being called an adoptive parent. Along with that title comes the notion that anyone who chooses to adopt is just “playing house” or “babysitting.” People often approach the subject with foolishness like, “well they aren’t really yours and you could give them back.” (yes, I have heard that come out of someone’s mouth on more than one occasion). Some believe we love our children less and/or that we don’t protect, care, nurture, and sacrifice for our babies simply because we didn’t throw on some Barry White, dim the lights a bit, and go about things the “traditional” way. So, yes it ticks me off when, inevitably, I get the condescending laced question, “Oh, you have adopted children?” or, “You’re an adoptive parent?”

Let me make it clear for everyone; while my babies may have come into our lives via adoption, they are NOT adopted children, they are OUR CHILDREN! My wife and I are not adoptive parents, WE ARE PARENTS! Period, plain and simple! Have No need to add adjectives or hyphenate the love we have for our children and make us feel like less than you and yours. It is beyond disrespectful. All you are going to get is a verbal lashing from me, and you really don’t want one of those, especially in front of your family and friends.

I think this stems from ignorance about adoption. People who have never inquired about adoption have no clue all that it entails. It is no picnic ladies and gentlemen. Many adoptions involve researching agencies, training, doctor visits, physicals, travel, failed placement/match (before the child is born or ever placed in our home), more research, mandatory parenting classes, cpr/first aid classes, sleepless nights, unreturned phone calls, daily arguments over stupid stuff with your spouse, attorneys, more doctors, home studies, early mornings, social worker visits (some unannounced), birth mothers who change their minds, baby shower…oops, another failed match? Need to have a baby shower for a girl now. And don’t get me started on the mounds of paperwork for each state/county and for each agency. What? Another failed placement? Does that mean more paperwork since the new agency is in a different state/county? YES!  What if you are adopting via foster care and the child is in a county other than the one you are residing? Unless your agency has a license to work across the state, you AND the child are out of luck! Oh, you finally have a child in your home? Guess what you’ve won? More visits (again, some unannounced), more travel, and just when you thought the paperwork avalanche was over? NOPE! From having to document every single visit to the doctor; to having to keep track of every little bit of baby aspirin your little one has to take when they have a cold; to making sure the hot water temperature in your house doesn’t go above 140 degrees, yep just more and more fun. Want to go on a vacation or leave the county? You need prior approval, which in some instances must be done months in advance. Worst of all, there isn’t a thing you can do about any of it!

Remember when we were kids and we were always told to take care of our toys and they would last forever? And remember how you would do extra chores around the house and maybe even odd jobs around the neighborhood in order to save up enough to get that remote control car or doll house you wanted? It may have taken you a year, but YOU do it all by yourself, and cherished that toy more than anything else. The very same principle applies to people who go through the adoption process. It’s not an easy journey. In fact, it’s a gut wrenching process that tests not just your faith, but tests your commitment to each other in your marriage, not to mention your relationship with family/friends. But on the flip side, because of all the trauma and turmoil that adoptive families go through, the end result is also the most rewarding and gratifying experiences one could hope for. Would I feel the same way about a biological child? I would hope so, but that is not my reality. My reality is that (especially as a man) it took a lot to get me to the point of actually adopting, and I wouldn’t trade my “adopted” children for “biological” children EVER!!!!

Now, I am NOT, by any stretch of the imagination, demeaning or belittling those who have children by the traditional Barry White method, I just want the same courtesy for my family that you DEMAND of yours. A child is a child no matter how they came into this world or became a part of a loving family. No child who has ever been born has “asked” to be here, and in my mind each and every child is a gift to be cherished. My family has the same stresses, ups/downs, late nights, early mornings, and LONG days as the next family; not to mention the fear (yep, I said fear) of the eventual discussion we will have with our children on where they came from. All parents (regardless of how they became parents) have struggles and I, for one, can attest to many of them and would argue that while this is the most stressed I have been in my entire life, I would also argue that it is also the most satisfied and fulfilled I have been in my entire life. Just when I think I can’t get any more stressed/fulfilled, my kids come through and prove that I most certainly can. Those that know me know that I love my little chocolaty nibblets and that when they were born I then had an answer for the question, “What are YOU willing to die for?”

If some parents (as well as those who like to say that adoption is not the same as having a child of your own) were to take a hard look into the thought, preparation, time, and emotional stress in the families that pursue adoption they may think differently, and may not make such flippant remarks about who is a “real” parent and who is not. I would also add that if some of these same folks had to go through all of this, they may not have thrown on Barry White to begin with. So yes, I take this lifelong journey VERY seriously. I enjoy all the ups, downs, and sideways because I know what it took for us to get to this point and I don’t take any of the gifts lightly nor for granted. Can all the Barry White fans say the same? Just my two cents.

James Higgins

James Higgins

Nothing special about me at all, I'm a happily married, college educated (Go Bison!), stay-at-home father of two wonderful children. Just trying to keep myself, my wife, my children, and my cats sane as we navigate through this journey called family life.

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Black Enough (the poem)

by Catherine Anderson

Mama C is away on vacation this week, so in the place of a new post, I am sharing a poem that I wrote three years ago for a poetry reading at the faculty talent show at the middle school where I teach.  Since then the poem has appeared in print and online in various locations including, Color Online, Hip Mama Magazine, and Adoption Mosaic.

Black Enough

I can’t wait to tell you Sam,
that when you were just two
one of my very black students asked me
why I went
all the way to North Carolina
to have you.

I can’t wait to describe to you the look
on that student’s face
when I told him
that I didn’t have you
like his mom had him,
but that your birthmother
placed you in my arms
in the hospital in North Carolina
on Christmas Eve
as she smiled bravely and
kissed you.

Oh. What? He asked. And then,
It’s not that I thought you were black black
he proclaimed.
But I thought you were black enough to have him.

Black Enough.
Black enough?
True I wondered if I was black enough
to walk through the door of Cordell’s barber shop
that first time six months ago
to get your black and curly hair
cut properly, what would they think of me?

And I can tell you that I am just
black enough to keep walking in that door,
where all the men
in that barber shop,
who have never asked me my name
Call you by yours-
Hey Sammy my man-
and What’s up boss?
They ask you
as you strut
to Cordell’s chair to demand
a lol-i-pop
for a line-it-up
and black enough to notice
as they stare at me
and stare at me
as if by looking
just a little longer
I might become
black enough to them too.

Black enough to notice that
now I own
many more brown and black sweaters and shirts
and brown corduroys
because I must want you to think I
am a little more black
and a little more like you

Black enough Sam
to know
that I’ll never be black enough
and because of that
I must never forget
that you

*Copyright May 2007 All Rights Reserved
by  Mama C

Guest Authors

Guest Authors

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