It happened. I knew from reading other adoptive parent's stories that the negative and ignorant comments would flow but we had, fortunately, not experienced any so far. Until this weekend.
What was supposed to be a happy family gathering to celebrate a grandparent's 85th birthday turned into an afternoon that still simmers in my mind as the day I had to defend our very personal choice and decision to adopt from China. It's been a few days now and the anger is almost as fresh as the day it happened.
Part of me says I shouldn't blog about this because it won't really help the situation. But, as I've stated before, I honestly hope my blog will bring other people to consider adoption and in that consideration comes the good, bad and ugly. This is the ugly, or at least part of the ugly.
I will preface this by saying I usually try to handle conversations in a polite manner and not this way at all. I think I responded the way I did because I felt like our personal choice was being attacked and what does a mama bear do when their family is attacked? You guessed it, defend.
While this conversation may read innocent enough on the screen, these questions were asked in a very snotty, antagonistic tone.
D: I heard you guys were adopting and my first thought was "why China?" So, why China?
Because that is where God put her.
D: But, why China?
Because that is where God put her.
D: But, there are so many kids in the US.
Have you researched adopting a child in the US?
That is why we are going to China.
Mish Mash, small talk and more questions.
D: So, what does Emily think?
Emily is thrilled and can't wait for her sister to come home.
D: Will Claire have her own room?
No, she will share a room with Emily.
D: What does Emily think about that?
Again, she is very excited; she has been asking for a sister for years.
D: Uh huh, we'll see what she thinks once she is here. So, what do the other kids think about all this?
We are all very excited and talk about Claire every day. Things like one chair is left at our table and Claire will make our table full, things we are going to do when she comes home, etc.
D: raised eyebrows: Well, I can't wait to see what its like a couple months after she comes home; see if they are still so excited.
This is no different than me carrying a child and giving birth; a new sibling will be an adjustment.
More mish mash questions. I think I'm on trial at this point.
I had Claire's pictures with me and they were lying on the table. One of them was the original picture and one was the more recent one. Granted, she looks a bit different but she is also not smiling in one of them.
D: So which one are you adopting?
They are the same girl.
D: I hate to say it....I really hate to say it but she looks like a boy.
She's our daughter and it doesn't matter to us.
D: I just hate to say it...
D: I hate to say it...
Then don't, keep it to yourself and don't say it.
D: Well, I wish you luck.
We don't need luck, we have God.
At that point I was finished with this conversation.
A few pointers for people who do not understand adoption and how it works.
1. The choice of what kind of adoption a person pursues is personal; just as personal as the person you want to marry, when you want to have children and what you want to name your children. It is not up for questioning or interrogation. Just as it is inappropriate to question someone's choice to have more than one child or not to have any children, it is inappropriate to question adding children to a family through adoption.
2. Adopted children are no different to a family than biological children. I know this is hard for some people to understand, especially if they have never really thought about adoption. We will not love her any less or any differently.
3. There isn't a refund option for adopted children, even if our children decide in two months that it isn't all pretty and rosy. We don't get to send her back and say this isn't what we thought it would be. You can't do that with a new car, why on earth would that be an insinuated for a child?!
4. Other countries and cultures do their hair differently and may have very good reasons for short hair. There are many children in each orphanage and it makes caring for the children easier if girls do not have long hair.
5. Other countries and cultures aren't snap happy with cameras like we are here in the US. The fact that we have one picture of a smiling child from China is rare. 99% of children available for adoption from China are not smiling in photos; they simply aren't used to cameras in their face.
6. Back to the golden rule- If you don't have anything nice to say then don't say anything at all. I can't imagine someone would ever tell a parent to their face that their girl looked like a boy so why would that be OK now? Is it because we haven't brought her home yet?
I honestly hope we do not encounter anymore 'adoption trial' questioning sessions again; unless of course it is by our social worker at our post-placement visits.