“Is it weird that your mom is not your ‘real’ mom?” is an all-too-common question that adopted children hear.
“How was meeting your parents for the first time?” is another one, this one posed to adopted children who choose and are able to meet their biological parents.
As an adopted child, I assure you my “adoptive” mother is my “real” mom, and as an adopted child who thanked my birth parents for choosing adoption, I assure you my birth parents are exactly that: birth parents, not parents.
While such questions are certainly innocent in nature, they exemplify a broader issue adoption communities face: Many do not know how to engage in adoption discussions. It is understandable to feel awkward or unsure of how to approach the subject because adoption is not an everyday conversation or casual dinner topic for most.
However, recently we worked to change this reality. I sat on a panel at an adoption symposium hosted by Catholic Charities, designed to foster adoption discussion. In this panel, we addressed many important adoption issues, including the above adoption mis-terminology and stereotypes, which I personally believe deter individuals from choosing adoption.
The U.S. adoption rate has steadily declined since 1970, and I believe we can return to a steady, positive rate by accurately and effectively portraying adoption as what it is: a beautiful, life-giving option for birth parents who feel unready or insufficiently prepared to raise a child.
Just like an adopted child is equally as “worthy” as a biological child, being an “adoptive” parent is equally as loving as raising a biological child. And birth parents are certainly not “giving up” a child but rather placing that child with another loving couple that want to raise a child.
This is how we need to talk about adoption. Misguided questions stemming from adoption unawareness and confusion only hold back individuals and couples from building a family through adoption.
While Louisiana has a few adoption agencies and firms whose yearly adoption numbers vary, the number of adoptions pales in comparison with the amount of abortions performed each year in our state. For example, while one agency facilitated 35 adoptions in 2014, more than 10,000 women chose abortion that year in our state. Although a Metairie abortion clinic recently closed, our state has an incoming Planned Parenthood facility which, according to its annual reports, facilitates about 145 abortions for every 1 adoption referral. Each adoption represents one life given new hope and a new lease on life. Our state can certainly afford to foster and engage one another in more adoption discussion.
David J. Scotton