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14 Questions You Shouldn’t Ask Adoptive Families

As an adoptive family, we have more random stories of interactions with strangers than we care to count.  For whatever reason, close associates or random passerbys feel inclined to make conversation regarding your family when they realize a child is adopted.

In our situation, it is very obvious that we are an adoptive family, and so we have heard it all.

Don’t be afraid to make conversation with a conspicuous adoptive family, just think about what you say.  Especially be sensitive if that child or any of his or her siblings are around.

Here are 14 questions I would suggest you don’t ask adoptive families:

  1. Is he adopted?  Don’t point your finger at my child.  Don’t single him out among his family or in public.  Ask his name.  Get to know him.  Ask what sport he likes.  He is just as much my child as any other child in our family.  When asked this question, we reply that “we are an adoptive family” to attempt to remove the isolation that the question just caused for him.
  2. Is your other child your real child?  In our situation, it is obvious one child is adopted but that leads some people to question the status of our other children.  The use of the word “real” is one of the most hurtful words you can use in any adoptive context.  Think about how that sounds.  All of my children are my real children.
  3. Are they real siblings?  Well, they aren’t fake siblings.  When one is adopted, it causes questions about the others and asking if the others are connected in a “real” way.  All of our children are real siblings, but your question causes frustration and can lead to doubt in the heart of a child.  Think.  They are as real of siblings as any siblings can be.
  4. What happened to his real parents?  His real parents are standing right here talking with you.  Something happened to his biological parents, but I don’t know if their story is your business, and it might be loaded to share in a brief moment.  Plus, his forever parents are right here.
  5. How long have you had him?  This really is a valid question based from curiosity.  But refrain from asking that with the child around.  You isolate the child with questions like this.  You probably could rephrase it with, “How long as he been home with you?  What age did he come home?”
  6. Why was he put up for adoption?  Really think about that question.  Can you see how insensitive and intrusive that question is?  We aren’t afraid to talk about that story with people we know, but realize it probably was a difficult situation.
  7. Were you unable to get pregnant?  First, that’s a personal question, and don’t tempt me to give a response that will make you feel awkward.  Maybe we felt called to adoption.  Adoption is not second-rate parenting.  We didn’t have to adopt, we got to adopt, and we are forever blessed and grateful because of it.
  8. Why didn’t you adopt from “there” instead?  It baffles me how often someone who has never adopted a child from any country can criticize a family for adopting a child from another country.  Maybe we prayed and studied and felt called.  Maybe we realized that while orphans in the United States have it very difficult, at least they do have meals, medicine, schools, and churches which orphans in many other countries do not have.  Maybe God is calling on people to adopt all orphans in all countries, and we were some of the ones that he asked to go beyond our borders because it didn’t scare us.  If you are concerned about orphans in this country, how many have you brought home?
  9. How much did he cost?  He didn’t cost anything.  He is worth everything.  Legal fees cost something.  Plane tickets cost something.  Paper work costs something.  Diapers cost something.  But a child is not a product to buy.  And are our finances your business?  How would you feel if someone asked you about your financial picture?  The legal fees to bring a child into a forever family are expensive but they aren’t as expensive as some of the cars we drive around for a few years.  Perspective.
  10. Do you hear that your other child looks just like you?  When you point out physical characteristics that one child shares with a parent, you are putting another child in isolation.  We are aware of genetics and yes, we see similarities, but is helpful to keep that to yourself when you are around my children.  We know there is nature, but we also love to celebrate nurture.
  11. Does he have any issues?  Yes.  I have issues as well.  Do you?  If you tell us all your issues, we will tell you all his.  Is there a person without issues?
  12. Does he know how lucky he is?  Do you know how lucky we are?  We are blessed to be his parents.  He is truly the remarkable one.  Don’t downgrade his situation as if clothes or air conditioning or plumbing or Christmas gifts are the best thing that a child can be offered.  He has given us more joy than we could ever give him.
  13. How can you love a child that isn’t blood related?  How can you not?  Love is a decision.  It is a commitment.  You misunderstand that word and that concept.  Don’t try to categorize my children into what is easy or difficult.  Everyone of my children came to me as a gift from God (Ps. 127:3).  God is the only one powerful enough to make a family, and anytime a child comes into a family, that is a miraculous gift from a loving God.
  14. Have you told him that he is adopted?  Of course we tell him.  It’s not a bad thing.  It’s not a dirty word.  We celebrate it.  We make it a natural part of our lives.  Adoption may be a part of his history but it will not be his identity.  We try to make it as natural a point of our lives, but insensitive questions from random people make it difficult.  Please be considerate.

Yes, we have heard versions of all these questions and probably more.  I don’t want this post to keep you from talking to adoptive families, but just asking for you to be considerate.

Say things like:

  • “You have a beautiful family.”
  • “You have such well-behaved children.”
  • “Hey kids, how old are you?”

You know, normal stuff when you see children.

When someone comes up and says that we have “a beautiful family,” we get the signal.  You are trying to tell us that adoption is great without isolating our child.  And we really appreciate that as well as do numerous other families.

If you see us and it makes you want to have conversations about your ability to adopt, we are really excited to talk with you about it.  

We will find time to help you in such a precious endeavor.  If you want to learn from an adoptive family and the children are around, say something like this:

“I think you have the sweetest family.  I have always prayed about growing our family as well.  Would you ever have time to talk where I could ask questions or maybe get some wisdom?”

The answer is yes.  How could we not want you to experience the joy that we have?

Step Up

I think family ministry is a big thing.  Investing in your home is critically important for their discipleship and for the sake of the Great Commission.

I would be remiss though if I did not make an appeal for men and women to step into the lives of some children who are less fortunate.

As Paul served as a father figure in Timothy’s life where there was an unfortunate void (1 Tim. 1:2), your church, your community, and this world are filled with children who are without parents.  Some of those children live in homes where they are not valued or taught, and some of those children are placed in an orphanage or group homes.

If I began to write concerning the need for Christians to step in an nurture orphans and neglected children in this world, this post would get considerably longer.  In short, I beg you to pray concerning what your role may be to step into the lives of those who are in a less-than-ideal situation.  As you care for the children in your home, please be mindful of those across the street and around the world who need you as well.

  1. Maybe God is calling your family to adopt a child into your home just like he called our family.
  2. Or maybe you could serve as foster parents.
  3. You could assist foster parents by getting involved in respite care and providing temporary childcare for those foster children when that family was in need.
  4. You may just know some teenagers in the church who could join your family on a camping trip, or a young boy who could use a soccer coach.

Whatever the need is, you will never regret being the hands and feet of God to provide love and consistency for children who are loved by God.

When God called us to adopt, we had one child in the home who was only one year-old.  We felt compassion for the orphans of the world, but we always expected we would put “feet” to our compassion later in life.  As God showed us, we had an extra bed in our home that was not being used.  God led us in a journey of adoption that changed us forever.

God has given us children through different manners, but each of them are unmistakably our children, and we couldn’t imagine our home without each child God has placed there.

You might be concerned that caring for other children will take attention away from your own.  As long as you continue to provide the instruction and consistency that your children need, investing in other children will help your own children as well.

As they watch their parents give of their time and affection to assist in unfortunate situations, it allows your children to see the gospel displayed in a tangible way that will forever impact them.

Adoption or foster care will not hurt the children in your home. In fact, it might help them.  It might help them remember that the world does not revolve around them.

Caring for other children will not scar your own – it might actually heal them.

It will change the way they see other children in the world.  Who knows who your Timothy might be and all that he or she might do for God’s Kingdom because someone took the time for him or her.

 

He Knows Her Name

I met Kelly McCorkle (now Parkison) when I was at North Greenville University.  What I appreciated about Kelly as a sister in Christ was that she was such a humble, easy-going friend.  She loved Jesus, she loved others, and she didn’t make a bunch of fuss about it.

Kelly has lived a lot of life since graduating from NGU.  She won this Miss South Carolina pageant and worked raising awareness concerning learning disabilities.  She eventually competed on the Amazing Race, served in DC and other places around the globe, and married Scott Parkison, who was the singles pastor at Taylors First Baptist Church.

635977840422608424-Kellym1They have five children, one whom they adopted from India.  It was great to share adoption stories over the years through Facebook and such.  Kelly wrote a book of their adoption experience entitled, He Knows Her Name: An Amazing Pursuit to Adopt from India.  She was gracious enough to send me a copy so I could digest the whole story.

Kelly was always a transparent person and that shines through in this book.

She is very detailed in their story, but what I love is that it provides a path for those considering adoption as well.  Many people like to know what they are getting into before getting into it.  This book can be that catalyst for some families.  Or for those already in the process, it may serve as an encouragement to stay the course.

One of our greatest sources of encouragement during our own adoption was hearing from those who had gone before us.

I pray this resource can encourage you!

Favorite Quotes

  1. On the contrary, adoption made me feel significant because I knew my parents saw me and chose me [from spouse] (38).
  2. A true godly desire for you is also a call on me [from spouse] (57).
  3. The Bible didn’t promise this life would be easy; in fact, it is full of Scriptures that speak of quite the opposite (60).
  4. If we were going to get negative feedback, it would be for one or two things: Why adopt when we can have biological children?  Why adopt internationally when we could adopt in America? (67-68).
  5. I couldn’t imagine prolonging the process [of adoption paperwork] any more than necessary on our part, and completing the dossier and submitting it gave us a slight sense of control over the process (100).
  6. Yet she was absolutely adorable and beautiful, and quickly I longed to make that sad little face smile (119).
  7. What thoughtful acts displayed by our many Christian brothers and sisters; if they had chosen not to call, message, or offer their help, we would have never been the wiser, as it was not Scott and I who asked for these favors (160).
  8. Even though I had moved within reach, she kept averting her eyes away from me, afraid to make eye contact (165).
  9. This may sound selfish, but I was comforted by the fact I was the only one who could calm her (192).
  10. I quickly tallied up all the things I was doing for the Lord in my mind and thought to myself, my heart can’t be broken anymore; I have nothing else left to give (248).

Book Overview

There are an estimated 20 million orphans in the country of India. Thanks to Kelly and Scott Parkison, that number has decreased by one. Having promised to never return to India after her experience on the reality show The Amazing Race, Kelly never dreamed she would one day be a mother to a beautiful Indian girl named Lyla. This is the amazing and true story of how God uses the most unlikely circumstances for His greater purpose.

Calling the Parkison’s adoption story a rollercoaster ride of emotion would be an understatement. After almost every major decision in the Parkison’s adoption process, God put a twist in their carefully laid plans only to lead them to greater opportunities. Faced with an overwhelming amount of fundraising, mountains of adoption paperwork, an unexpected pregnancy, a medical issue to patch with their new daughter, and the adjustment of bringing their child into a new culture, the Parkisons clung to God through their whirlwind adoption of Lyla. Their heartwarming story is a beautiful testament to the gift of adoption on this earth and the love of God for all of us as His children.

You can learn more about Kelly or Loft 218.

Kelly is also going to be doing some meet and greets in the days to come.  Here’s one such event!
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Infertility and God’s Sovereignty

Infertility is a unique and severe pain.  For those who may suffering through it, here are some things to consider.

Legos Can’t Build a Home

In the ever-increasing drive to impact the families of our community, God continues to deliver experiences that wreck my heart and yet serve as catalysts for greater desperation for the tasks ahead.

I keep encountering people whose lives are shattered by what is happening within their families, and these experiences won’t let up.  And I pray that neither will I in my commitment to help.

One of those experiences happened a few months ago.

Our family was together with a lot of children at a gathering.  In the midst of this time, my family had the opportunity to spend the day with some young children who had all been removed from their homes.  Their stories are awful.  You wouldn’t believe some of them if I told you.  It makes no sense to me what their families have done to them.  Innocently, my children just saw them as new friends and were unaware of all the baggage they brought with them.

I wish I could have done that as well.

As we played together on a lovely Saturday afternoon, the lighthearted nature that began to emerge during our recreation time was balm to my soul.  I began to see these children laugh and smile like they really meant it.  Between my children, the children in crisis situations, and the other children present, the divide became smaller by the minute and it was beautiful to see.  They were all just kids enjoying one another.

As I navigated through the maze of riding toys, footballs, and Nerf objects to dodge, I became ever-so-enlightened by listening to the conversation of these children.

Since there were many young boys present, Legos became a major point of discussion.  These two boys began to discuss what their favorite Lego sets were.  Since I have two boys fascinated with Legos right now, I decided to see if I heard any new sets I needed to put on the radar (for my sons, of course ;)).

“Did you know that I have the Batcave set?”

“Really?” said the boy who was not so privileged.  “I have some, but I don’t have that one.”

“I’ve got lots of Legos at home.”

As I listened to this boy say these words, I cringed a bit even though he didn’t say them from a mean-spirited place.

The other boy responded, “Wow.  Really?  I wish I had a…”

As I eavesdropped upon this conversation, I actually mouthed the words that I thought this sad boy was about to say.  He was about to say what any other unfortunate child would say in that moment, “Wow.  Really?  I wish I had a lot of Legos.”

But that’s not what he said.  It wasn’t what he said at all.

His response?

“Wow.  Really?  I wish I had a home.”

And as he said these words, he began to run across the yard seeking some place of quick comfort from the reality of which he was just reminded.

As I began to run after him, I could barely hear the other child, shocked and jostled, whisper after him, “Sorry.  I wish you had a home too.”

I Wish They Had a Home

I share this story for two reasons:

1. There are children who need a home.

You know this.  I know this.  The situation is getting more dire by the day.  Millions of children do not have a home.  There are children in your community and across the world that need a home.

You cannot do something about all of them.  You may not be able to bring one of them into your home right now.  But you can do something.

You can support someone’s adoption.  You can volunteer at a children’s home.  You can reach out to that child in the neighborhood who is neglected.  You can foster.  You can provide respite care.  You can adopt.  You can give a child a home.  You can visit an orphan in distress and keep yourself unstained by the disgusting nature of this world (James. 1:27).

2. Make sure you are building your home on something sturdier than Legos.

We must remember that “unless the LORD builds the house, those who build it labor in vain” (Ps. 127:1).

It is easy as a parent to focus upon my provision for my children and neglect my presence with my children.

My children may be giddy with the stuff I buy them, but they will be forever changed by the way I live before them.  What they need are parents who are committed to loving the LORD and teaching them to do the same (Deut. 6:4-9).  They need the hearts of their parents drawn to them (Mal. 4:6).  They need to know that they are the blessing (Ps. 127:3) and not the stuff in our homes that we refer to as blessings.

I am thankful that, through deep pain, God taught me this lesson.  I was thankful for a moment to eavesdrop on a conversation that reminded me what my children and other children really need.

Legos can’t build a home.  It takes a family.