We all have those foot-in-mouth moments where we say something and then instantly regret it. However, in my time as a foster and adoptive parent, I realize that there are many times where people say things and don’t think they need to put their foot in their mouth. They say things that are completely inappropriate or insensitive, but yet think nothing of it.
Part of it is just education – a lot of people don’t understand the dynamics of foster care and adoption. However, ignorance, is not an excuse to be rude. So, as we are in the midst of National Foster Care Month, I am imploring you to watch your mouth.
I did a survey of things that Foster parents wish other people would do for them to support them. One thing showed up several times – we wish you wouldn’t say stupid things. Again, we recognize that you likely don’t mean to be offensive, but … it is. I encourage you to think before you speak in all occasions, but especially to a foster and adoptive parent. Especially in front of a foster or adopted a child, or any child for that matter. Children are listening all of the time and they are soaking up every word. Even when we don’t think they are listening, they will repeat it later.
So with that in mind, here are a list of things that we wish you would stop saying.
We are not saints. We are just ordinary people stepping up to fill a need.
Do not ask us what their parents did wrong. If you don’t want us airing your dirty laundry, don’t assume we’ll air theirs.
Do not talk about the “drug babies” in my care. They’re just babies.
Do not ask if we’re going to keep them. It’s likely we have no idea what their future holds and even if we did, that wording makes the children sound like a household appliance.
Do not ask why their parents gave them away. Especially for children who are old enough to understand, this verbiage is hurtful! Most of the time, their parents didn’t “give them away”, they were simply unable to parent.
Do not tell us you could not do it because you’d get too attached. Are you implying that we don’t get attached? Or are you implying that your feelings are more important than the feelings of a child who did nothing to be in the situation they’re in?
Do not ask about our “real” children. Any child in my home is a “real” child. I clean real poop off of real bottoms and wipe real snot off of real noses. I wipe real blood off of real booboos and wipe real tears falling from real eyes.
Do not ask if we’re done yet or if we’re going to take in more children. The amount of children in my home, unless I’m asking you to live there and parent them with me, is none of your business.
I probably could go on… I’ve heard a lot of stupid things in my 11 years as a foster and adoptive parent, but my intention is not to make you feel bad. My intention is simply to make you aware that the things you say don’t come out as you mean. I like to believe the best of people and I believe that you truly, likely, mean well, but it doesn’t always come across that way.
Just watch your mouth!