I hate introductions. Whether I am meeting someone for work, at church, a family introduction or even just in line at the grocery store, invariably it seems to come around to the same old question…
“How many kids do you have?”
A seemingly innocent and easily answered question, right? It’s not an easy question for us. I have three biological children, three adopted children, and two that spent a huge chunk of their teen years with me. That makes eight kids, but only four of those still live at home.
But we also have the five children who live with us through the family treatment model at the Institute for Attachment and Child Development. So that makes nine or thirteen, depending on how you look at it. Let’s not even get into all the precious souls that have come and gone through the thirteen years of foster and treatment parenting I have under my belt.
They Get Curious
Whenever I share those kinds of numbers, ask say all kind of things such as:
- “How old are they?”
- “Oh, my, don’t you know what causes that?”
- “You look very thin for having all those kids!” (I kind of like that one)
- “Are they all your “real” kids?” (Insert awkward pause here)
Um, we don’t use an easy bake oven for dinner. They eat real food. They are nine real people.
What They’re Really Asking
What they really want to know is which kids are the most important to me. They want to know if the little babies who came out of my own body are somehow better and of higher value in this world. And the answer? Of course not! Is it even a question worth asking? No.
And little ears hear. Little eyes see. I get asked these questions more than most people outside the foster and adoptive community can ever imagine. And these little people and teenagers are perceptive enough to pick up on what society thinks about them.
What can we do?
So how do we help this population? It is a hard job—a thankless job to help a person who feels and is treated like a cast off by the world, but, most importantly, by themselves. I have had the privilege to be a small part of the healing process alongside a few of these special people with developmental trauma (also known as reactive attachment disorder). They work hard to take responsibility for the difficult circumstances they have been handed.
I hope to encourage you as you take on your challenge to do the same for someone special in your life. So here comes the dreaded introduction…“Hi, my name is Mom Dyan.”
How do you introduce yourself and your family to the world? Please do so below!