The label “ADOPTION”
Many of the things I shared in this post have been on my mind for a while. I’ve taken time to process what is best for our family and since every family and adoption situation is unique there isn’t a one size fits all method to follow. I share to bring awareness and to give a gentle reminder to pause before you slap a label on someone, especially a young and very impressionable someone. Its not socially acceptable to label adults so why are we quick to label kids?
One question that I frequently get asked is how/when are you going to tell Juniper that she is adopted?
When we are in public I refer to my kids as the triplets so its only natural for some to think that Juniper doesn’t know she was adopted. Before I continue, I'll put you at ease by saying that she does know she is adopted, just in words that a 2 year old understands- more on that later.
From the day we decided we would be adopting I wanted to advocate for adoption and hoped that frequently sharing our story with others could help end some of the negative stigma that society has built around ‘adoption’. I remember when the babes were only a couple months old I was walking around a store pushing my triple stroller (definitely an attention grabber!!) and I had several people ask me about my kids. I hadn’t given much thought about how much or what parts of my story I wanted to share with others. Unprepared for the attention, I stumbled through the highlights of our family story saying something to the effect of, “we were trying to have kids for a long time through infertility treatments and adoption but nothing was working and then we were finally matched through our adoption agency and at the same time got pregnant with twins!”
Stranger, waving a finger at my kids asks, “so which one is adopted?”
Me, feeling cornered in our conversation and obligated to answer replied, “our daughter is adopted.” I looked down to see Juniper starting at me with her serious little face and bright blue eyes. She was listening to every word I said. I had a moment of clarity; it was my responsibility to protect her story and her from being labeled as the adopted one. Unfortunately well intending people are too nosy and must know which child is adopted. My intentions of advocating for adoption haven’t changed but how I answer questions in order to protect my daughter from labels has changed completely.
It was after that and several other similar instances that I decided I needed to change how I answer those well-intended yet damaging questions. At first it didn’t feel authentic to call them triplets and for some reason I felt like I owed all these perfect strangers something by telling them how our family was really built but with time I’ve gotten over it.
Sooo when others ask, I typically avoiding adoption all together. We don’t single Juniper out as the ‘adopted one’ and because they are so close in age its easier to answer that they are triplets. Honestly it isn’t practical and kind of dangerous to have a conversation with someone when I’m keeping three busy kids contained in a shopping cart- I’m sure many others can agree with this!
If I shared our family story with every inquisitive stranger, or family friend, or friend of a friend that we pass in the store, on a walk, or at church, Juniper would constantly be bombarded with the label of being adopted, which I don’t think is healthy.
She should not be defined by a decision that she had no say in and I want to eliminate the label as much as possible. So are we keeping it a secret?? Nope, I have spent many days and sleepless nights thinking, pondering, educating myself and praying for guidance on how to navigate this idea of ‘telling’ Juniper that she is adopted. I finally feel at peace with a more gently age appropriate explanation.
The word ‘adoption’ means nothing to a child until there is a foundation of understanding. Instead of using the word adoption or adopted or adoptee we use words she understands that help create the foundation for the label.
At an age appropriate level she knows she was adopted but like I said previously, I don’t want that to be her defining thing and I don’t want it to be how she is described to others, especially strangers. I don’t want to see those beautiful eyes looking at me wondering if I’m going to label her as adopted. For Junipers sake when we are out together and you see a friend please share the details of our story with them another time. I would love to tell you about our adoption journey and answer all of your questions just not in front of my kids.
>>If all of our kids were adopted this post might be different. the label adoption would probably feel more inclusive instead of setting Juniper apart as different<<
10/13/2022 11:08:42 pm
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