This week's weekend assignment is pretty easy. The best money we've ever spent was the adoption fees, attorney retainer and court costs associated with this little guy right here! But I have to add a caveat to this. Adoptive parents become particularly sensitive to certain adoption related language and the sadly prevailing impression in our society that adoption is the same as "baby selling".
The media is largely to blame. They tend to focus on black market schemes, corrupt attorneys, unscrupulous birth parents, corruption in foreign governments and so on. These cases are the EXCEPTION. The majority of adoptions are legal and the costs associated with them are all earmarked for specific things and itemized for the courts. When you look at all the costs as a lump sum, sure many people's reactions are "Whoa, that kid was expensive!" That is NOT the case.
When you break down the costs...$X for your lawyer, $X for the birth mother's lawyer, $X for medical expenses, $X for court costs, $X for travel expenses, $X for the home study and fee for the social worker who conducts it, $X for the local agency, $X for an in-state lawyer if you adopt from out of state, a small $X in living expenses for the birth mother (this amount is carefully monitored by the courts so no abuses can take place), $X in fees for finger printing and background checks...and so on. Each cost, taken individually, is completely reasonable. And not a single one of those fees is $X to buy my baby.
So what is the point I am trying to make? If you know someone who has adopted a child, never EVER ask them "So how much did he/she cost?" or "Was he/she expensive?" It's not the BABY that costs, it's the PROCESS. And the process is worth every penny.
Other inappropriate things to say or ask an adoptive parent:
"Do you know who his/her REAL mother is?" - This implies that we are fake parents. I assure you, we are the REAL deal. I've got the worry lines, gray hair and under-eye circles to prove it.
"Couldn't you have a child of your own?" - This implies that adoption is somehow less valid than having a biologically related child. Having the same blood doesn't make a child more or less a part of the family. He is MY OWN CHILD whether he popped out of my uterus or not.
"That is his/her ADOPTED child. So and so has 2 ADOPTED children." - This label tends to follow kids, especially children of famous people, all their lives! Why does the media find it necessary to constantly segregate children that were adopted from children that may have been born into a family? I sure as hell don't want my obituary to one day read "...and she is survived by one adopted son, Tyler." He is just my son. Period. Adoption is just as valid a way of joining a family as birth.
"Why was he/she given up?" - Asking a new parent why her child was given up or abandoned, especially in FRONT of the child, is wildly inappropriate. The birth or biological parent made an adoption plan...a plan to secure our child's future. My child was not unwanted. His biological mother loved him enough to make sure he would grow up in a safe and nurturing environment with two loving parents and opportunities for a bright and promising future. He is NOT unwanted or a mistake.
"What a wonderful person you are for making a home for this child!" - Um...yeah. Sorry folks. I am NO saint! Statements like this imply we are taking on someone else's problem or that adoption is a burden that will somehow earn us brownie points in heaven. Or something. We adopted because we wanted to be parents and have a child to love. The same as any other person who tries to have a child. I'm just a mom. Being loving and selfless is just part of the job description.
Would you like to play along? The current Weekend Assignment can be found here.