Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Breaking Down the Barriers

For three months now I've been gracefully trying to figure out how to write this post with tact. I'll be honest and tell you that it isn't easy. Mostly because we are talking about my daughter. But also because I am striving so very hard to break down the barriers of adoption. In fact one of the biggest reasons I haven't just stopped blogging on this blog is because I don't feel like God is finished with it yet and I firmly believe that God wants to open the eyes of those who have never adopted. So if you have never adopted, please open your mind and heart to what I'm about to say.

It began on our way home from Georgia. I noticed the glances in the airport, and the looks of confusion when a white mom brought a dark child to her breast. Even though Xiomara was pretty light-skinned right after birth (something that is very common), people knew she wasn't my birth child. It's not that I want to hide it, but I also don't appreciate the furitive glances and the stares. Now mind you, because my heart is turned towards adoption, I do realize that many times you may be for adoption and just naturally curious. However many, while still for adoption, lack the tact in what to say to an adoptive parent.

The number one thing I get asked is "What is her nationality?" I would love, love, love to be snarky and respond that she is American just like you. However, for the most part I have held my tongue. First of all though, I'd love to correct you and say "You mean her race"? If you are going to have the audacity to ask me that question, at least ask it correctly. But in all seriousness, what does it matter what her nationality is? Or her race? She is but a babe with darker skin than her mama, daddy, and sisters. But the color of her skin doesn't say or define who she is on the inside.

Also, please do not ask me about her birthmom. I have the upmost respect for "J" and it really is none of your business what she is like, how old she is, if she was "clean" in her pregnancy, etc., etc., etc. I could go on and on here with the insensitve and sometimes clueless comments or questions I have gotten about her birthmom. It all comes down to this: It's none of your business. Her past is her past, just like your past is your past. We refuse to define her by her past, and I hope you can too.

Please don't think we are "special" or she is "blessed" to have been adopted. Can I just say right now this one really grates on my nerves. There is nothing "special" about what we did. Xiomara is also no more "blessed" than our other daughters just because she is adopted. Once again, adoption does not define her.

Don't "remind" me of the better life Xiomara has with us. We seem to get this one a lot and it leaves us scratching our heads wondering why you are telling us this? Are you thinking we feel guilty for taking her away from her birthmom? We don't. In fact, "J" gave her to us. Willingly. Was it hard? You bet. Did I feel sad for her? Enormously. But that doesn't change the fact that we have no idea what her life would have been like, except for the fact that whether here or there, she would have been loved.

Which brings up my next point which is a HUGE one. Yes we love her! Just as much as we love our biological daughters. She feels a part of us, because she is a part of us.

At this point many of you may be either:

a. laughing
b. shaking your head in disbelief
c. feeling dumb because you have said one or more of these things to us
d. doing all of the above

We honestly have gotten all of this and more. Let me just say that if you answered c. above, don't feel bad. We've had lots of friends and even our families say some interesting things to us and we realize that a lot of it is ignorance. Thus, we write this post.

The reality is we've only just begun and it sucks. I hate that I'll be fighting for her and these dumb comments the rest of her life. Yet, I love who I am fighting for. I love what I'm fighting for.


I don't plan to stop anytime soon. The barrier has to be broken. And it starts with you.

Would you please do me the favor and pass this on by E-mail, Facebook, or Twitter? More people need to hear this. To understand it!

For more great reading on this subject. Hop over to read about How much did YOUR kid cost?


  1. Thank you Brooke! For some reason it was VERY hard for me to click "Publish", yet I knew I had to!

  2. Excellent post, Vanessa. I went to the "Single Dad Laughing" link, too, and was horrified at the things that people say to adoptive families. So many times with my larger-than-average family I have resisted the urge to say, "Seriously? Seriously??? Did you SERIOUSLY just ask me that question?" I think many people aren't even aware of what comes out of their mouths!!!

  3. Finally!! SO glad you posted this. You said it perfectly, and you didn't sound too mad...you were a lot nicer than how I feel when people repeatedly asked me what Xiomara was, as if THAT was the most important thing. Not her health, not if she was adjusting well, not if she was eating and gaining weight, not if you had enough stuff for her, not if you needed anything. Nope, instead, I got asked over and over and over again "what she was". Thanks for putting this out there. :)

  4. Vanessa, Great post. I am going to share this with everyone. It felt like I was reading my own life with D and A. Thank you for doing this, even though it was hard.

  5. That was the best written blog I have EVER read!! You took the words right out of my heart and put them on a blog. My son will forever have me fighting for him as well. I am sure you wouldn't even be shocked by some of the comments I've gotten from people. I just don't get how some people feel they need to know everything about my son's "past"....I don't ask about their children or their personal information. One thing that kills me...."how much did he cost"....seriously? wow! I don't get how so many can be so close minded to race and adoption. It's a beautiful thing and we wouldn't want our life any other way! Thank you, Thank you, Thank you!!!! I will copy this and email it and put it on my facebook!!!! I will remove names though....just to keep your privacy. :)

  6. thank you. i posted a link to this on my blog!

  7. Melissa-Oh I'm sure you do get comments, and looks! Sigh..I think we (myself included) could use some time to think before we speak.

    Gen-Thank you for your support. It means the world to me...love you!

    Jensen Family-You are welcome! :)

    Jen-I know we've connected via fb now, but I wanted to tell you I can completely relate and also to thank you for sending this on.

    Olson RX-Thank you! :)

  8. Vanessa, I know this is a reply to an old blog entry, but i just read it and i have to agree with Brooke in saying a great big "BRAVO!" you are brave for writing this, and it really needed to be said. i hope i haven't said any of these things to you, and if i have i sincerely apologize. i know what it's kind of like to have insensitive people ask ignorant questions like this. J was born 7 weeks early, with absolutely nothing wrong with his tiny body, just low birth weight (4lbs, 10oz). they were concerned about underdeveloped lungs, but God gave us an amazing dr who knew her stuff. one day a woman who knew the situation asked me "what was wrong with him when he was born?" i just smiled and said, "nothing, he was perfect and still is!" altho i wanted to strangle her. all your daughters are equally so beautiful and perfect. you are blessed to have all three of them, not just X and not just Z & M. and I am so blessed to have the opportunity to get to know all 3 of them too! i still can't get over people actually asking "how much did she cost you?" that is just going over and above being ignorant..it's just plain rude and nosy. i've been told that when people ask questions like that, you're supposed to say "why do you want to know?" haven't tried it myself but i can see how it might work :0)
    love you and i thank you for your honesty (and courage) in posting what's on your heart. you inspire me to do the same!

  9. Dawn-You have been NOTHING but kind and encouraging to us and especially Xiomara. As I told someone else though, even if you had said something at some point, if you were innocent, I completely understand. It's those who on purpose are nosy or say things just to be mean. You are not one of those people.

    Thank you for your kind words, love, and encouragement. I really appreciate it!


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