I came across this infographic today courtesy of United Methodist Communications and I couldn't help but share as I've certainly been frustrated in the past by certain terms people use when talking about adoption.
The thing is- not everybody knows that a certain term might be hurtful- and that is why I liked this infographic so much- these are simply suggestions of what terms to use- "instead of this, say this" in order to avoid miscommunication with a brief explanation of WHY a specific term might send an unintended message.
In addition to the infographic, adoptive mother and pastor Angela Flanagan, shared more helpful hints about asking questions, making assumptions, and even touched on some of the challenges unique to adoptive families, and transracial adoptive families in particular, where adoption is obvious, including the following:
" Asking appropriate questions with healthy language of friends is very different from asking questions of perfect strangers. Before you ask or comment, consider what it might feel like to have your family questioned everywhere you go by people who you don’t know and what effect that has on the children.
On a related note of shielding questions about an adopted child's history- especially when asked in front of the child, sometimes it's not just those who ask the questions that need to take a step back, but those who answer and provide information (because adoptive parents are human, too)!
This is something which I'm learning to find a balance with. On the one hand I love educating people about foster care or how the adoption process works, and I'm glad to be able to share my experiences with them. But on the other hand I realize "Just because I want to educate others and am happy to talk about my experiences doesn't necessarily mean I have to share every detail about my children's backgrounds with everyone who asks- especially when they ask in front of the children- because although my child's story is definitely a part of my story- it is ultimately their story to tell."