I’ve gotten a lot of adoption advice over the years. Some of it’s been good (learn about racism, maintain a relationship with the first family, stop sharing the super intimate details of your child’s adoption with every Tom, Dick, and Harry who asks). Some of it’s been less than good (be stricter and your kid won’t act that way, don’t mention their birth family – it will make them sad, and of course the best: don’t tell them they’re adopted).
While doing hair last night, I asked Mariyah what the best adoption advice she ever got was. We’ve been to a fair number of adoption events and conferences, and they sometimes do sessions with the kids. I thought perhaps she’d gleaned some good advice herself.
Her response: “Don’t sweat the small stuff.”
“That is great advice sweetie! Who told you that one?”
“I told it to myself.”
“Wow. Great advice to tell yourself. I wish someone had given that advice to me.”
“Mom, I just did!”
Ahh. True. Sage advice from an 8 year adoption veteran.
Honestly though, I kind of love it, and it works in almost every situation. When it comes to adoption, you need an ability to role with the punches.
The pre-adoption process can be filled with lost paperwork. You’ll find yourself faxing the same papers to the agency over, and over again. You will probably deal with a lot of people who don’t seem to know how to check their voicemail or return phone calls. People at your agency may give you incorrect information, not intentionally, but because they aren’t sure. People in your life may pass judgement on your choice to adopt. Don’t sweat the small stuff.
When a child is placed in your home they may act completely differently than any child you’ve ever seen before. They may refuse to eat anything but cereal and chicken nuggets. They may do the exact opposite of every single thing you say. They may need help with basic tasks, and you may briefly think to yourself, shouldn’t they know how to brush their teeth at this age. Starting a new school probably won’t be easy, and you will probably get a lot of phone calls from the principal. Don’t sweat the small stuff.
When you walk down the street, you’ll get double takes from some of the passerby’s. Some may stop you, and spend the next minute or two asking questions you generally reserve for your gynecologist (“Did you struggle with infertility?” “How long did you actually try before you gave up?”) They may give you advice (“Did you ever try acupuncture? Just try acupuncture. It worked for my sister’s coworkers neighbor.”) They may be straight up rude (“I could never love a child who wasn’t really mine!”) Or just curious (“I’ve always wanted to adopt, how did you do it?”). All those burrowing eyes and questions can be uncomfortable. Don’t sweat the small stuff.
If your child is a race other than white, you’ll need to talk to them about racism. If you’re white, you might not be sure how to do that. You’ll have to confront your own privilege, and at times it may be hard to do. If your son says “So in the old days, your people owned my people?” you may die a little inside. You’ll also need to make sure your child dresses and acts in a way that’s cultural appropriate. Someone may point out that your child needs more lotion, or straighter part lines. This isn’t small stuff, but don’t sweat it either way. You can do this.
So, don’t sweat the small stuff. I think that’s my new mantra. We are 8 years in to this whole foster/adoption life, and things still come up from time to time where I need this reminder. Just like Mariyah I’m going to start giving it to myself.
Now on to the Adoption Talk Linkup!
Today’s optional topics are Why Did You Choose Adoption? and Best Advice You’ve Ever Gotten. You can also link up anything else you wrote! Grab a button for your post and join Ashley, Jenni, Jill, Jules, and me!
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