Sunday, January 9, 2011
Several times I have started to write a post about what I'm going to share. Then I didn't. I stepped back to put some time and emotional space between the comments that have been made to me and tried to process them from a mature, give-them-the-benefit-of-the-doubt- standpoint. I'm sure all of us have had times in our lives when someone says something to you and you think, "did they really just say that out loud?" But ever since I've started on this adoption journey, it's become blindingly, bright clear that the majority of people don't have a filter. I know that my family will look different from the typical family- only in that our shades of tan to brown will be different- but it saddens me that still, in 2011, people have issues with me adopting children of a different race than my own. And not only that it's an issue, but that they feel free to share their comments with me. Here are some of the things that have been said to me thus far:
- Why don't you just adopt a white infant from right here in Cincinnati? It can't be that hard. In fact, why don't you adopt from the orphanage that's right there down on Reading Road?
- Why Nepal? Why don't you adopt a child from the USA? There are sooo many kids right here in our own country that need a home. Why don't you help one of our own? (X's about 40)
- You are so lucky you are adopting a boy from the Congo. How would you ever do a little black girl's hair?
- Will he be really dark or just kind of milk chocolate dark?
- How will you know if he has AIDS or not?
- I don't mean to pry, but couldn't you have any children of your own?
- Wow, you're going to have TWO children? How are you going to do it? That's a lot of work for one person.
- How are you going to tell them that they are adopted?
For those of you who know me personally, let's just say my reaction to these comments have been a lesson in some serious self-control. On the days when I'm in a good mood, feeling gracious and positive, I love being an advocate for adoption! Someone needs to speak up for these children and I'm more than willing to do it. Also, I know that many people are just curious and don't have the verbal skills to word their questions politely. I try to take all of these things into consideration, at the same time getting past the shock, and try to answer their questions in a loving, informative way. That's on a good day.
But, I am human and sometimes I'm feeling grumpy, or frustrated with the wait, or feeling really annoyed with everything that I've had to do to prove that I'm eligible to be a mom, and the last thing I feel like doing is justifying how I'm building my family and educating the illiterate in adoption P.C. So, my sarcasm slips through and gets the best of me. I'm not going to lie. There is some satisfaction in seeing the shock on their faces when the realize from my response just how inappropriate their questions are. However, in my heart of hearts, I wish that I could be Susie Sunshine all of the time, giving the perfect answers and said in just the right way. But I don't. And I know that when the babies are here, if someone says something to me, I will be like a Pitbull to protect them. I don't want my children to feel "lucky," or rescued, or different, or second best, or anything that would imply that they aren't loved with every fiber of my being. My children and I are meant to be a family. God has been perfectly designing our family, working in ways that have been truly miraculous to bring us together. My children are chosen and they are loved. That's what I want them to know.
One of the requirements I had to fulfill in order to adopt was take a 12 credit hour class that covers everything you could possibly imagine from interracial adoption, nutrition, RAD, attachment and bonding, discipline, etc. I've learned so much and am thankful for resources I have so that I can answer people's questions in the best way possible. My goal is to get to the place where I can be a positive ambassador for adoption, one that helps change people's misconceptions. I also hope that people will not be so quick to blurt out their questions without thinking through how it really sounds. In the meantime, on the days when I'm not 100% cheery, I think I will follow my mom's advice: Just look them in the eye and smile. Sometimes, you don't need to say anything. Let them figure it out through my silence that what they asked was inappropriate. But, at least I will be smiling:)
Posted by Kristen at 1:22 PM