Thursday, September 6, 2012

We Chose Adoption

I am well aware of the fact that most everyone comes to this blog to (1) see cute pictures of E, or (2) read about adopting a child with thalassemia.  And I love that and think it's great but this post is about neither, so sorry to disappoint.  But, it's my blog, and I need to blow off some steam.

Our family gets comments wherever we go, most welcome, some not.  I remember reading before we adopted from China that when you are an obviously multi-ethnic family, you are sort of resigning yourselves to the fact that you will be noticed, and you will get comments. 

Now, I think that some of the more overly-sensitive people out there have made it so that well-meaning people are terrified to say anything, myself included.  More than once, someone has sheepishly sidled up to me, eyes downturned, and said with a shaky voice, "I'm sorry, but...." and then they go on to make a very nice comment about our family, perhaps telling me about their own adoption story.  This is no problem, and I wish more people felt like it was OK to say hi.

But recently, there has been an influx of comments of another type.  This weekend, we went to dinner at an old-school Chinese-Polynesian restaurant.  We walked in and received some glares, but they quickly turned to smiles when everyone saw how cute E is.  Our waitress immediately took to E and seemed friendly enough, even asking where E was from.  "Oh, Guangxi, yes, they don't like the girls there, that was so nice of you, she's a lucky baby" was her response.  OK, wrong on so many levels, in fact every level I can think of, but I wasn't ready to walk out yet.  Every time she came to the table, she offered some advice, such as, "Keep your baby out of the sun.  Chinese people do not like the sun and getting freckles like Americans" and I just kept sipping on my cocktail, served in a coconut with a little umbrella, thinking about the 3 umbrellas E sits under at the beach, with her SPF 50+ hat, slathered in Water Babies 70.  No problem, she's just offering advice.  But then the waitress came in with a big one, one that no drink could be strong enough to repel:  "You know, now that you are taking care of your baby, you will have an internal mother instinct that will allow you to make your own baby.  I know someone who adopted a baby and the love she had made her body be able to have 3 of her own!"  And then, the final whammy, directed towards *E*, no less:  "Sleep in your own bed so that Mama and Daddy can have a baby!"  I. Almost. Died.  Although the funniest part was when the waitress turned around to walk away, E pointed at her and said, "Cuckoo!!!"  E, you are wise beyond your 2 years.

Now, there are lots of things wrong with this, and I don't just mean that my drink wasn't strong enough or that the rice noodles were a little greasy or that the waitress was indeed cuckoo.  We chose adoption over biology.  We thought about all of the options that we had for creating a family, and immediately knew that adoption was our first choice.  I know that some others come to the amazingness of adoption for other reasons, but we didn't, and that's a fact and something I'm happy about and proud of.  Adoption was Plan A.  Always.  And sometimes--not always--it just bugs me that most everyone is erroneously assuming about how our family came to be, and to be the recipient of unnecessary sympathy.  No, it doesn't matter what this silly waitress thinks, or the lady across the street, or the librarian at story hour.  But, well, it just isn't true.  And it's not true for a lot of other adoptive families out there, either.

Later that night when we were over laughing/crying/ranting about the waitress' inappropriate comments and saying how they should owe us free Pu-Pu Platters for life, we were strolling around and stopped into a candy store to get E some dots.  You know, the candy dots on a strip of paper where you are really eating a little candy and a lot of paper.  Those.  P quietly asked me if I was OK, knowing that this issue bugs me-well, us--sometimes.  I looked at E holding on to her dots for dear life, her cute little tongue all blue and smiled, "Yes, I'm great."  I turned around and noticed a lovely woman gazing at E, too.  The woman said, "She's gorgeous-look at those eyes!  Is she from China?"  I replied, "Thanks, and yes, she's originally from China."  The woman, who was leaning against the candy counter turned around revealing herself and said, "I looked into adopting from China, too, and then this finally happened," as she pointed at her huge pregnant belly.  P and I smiled at her and at each other, took each other's hand, and strolled our sticky-fingered, blue-tongued little angel (OK, sometimes devil) out of the store, shaking our heads.

That's a beautiful thing for you, but we chose something equally as beautiful.  Adoption.  Yes...First.

Okay, picture.
Cabana girl, Labor Day 2012, Cape Cod.


The Jiu Jiu said...

A very well-written post -- thank you. My sister very carefully, very methodically, after much research & soul-searching, specifically chose adoption (and single motherhood). So far the family has garnered only a handful of negative comments and only slightly more dumb/stupid/misinformed comments but we expect to hear quite a few more over the coming years.
Rather than type an overly-long comment here, I'm going to put a comment on my blog (with a link to your post). Not everyone is "cuckoo" but E certainly called it. :-)

Kelly said...

Um, you better get that baby out of the sun;) I find that I often just need to smile and move on. E is so blessed to have a mama and baba that chose HER! You all are equally blessed to bring a child into your hearts and love her forever! Many who have never adopted or known someone who has, cannot understand the idea that our children are literally grafted into us and become part of us. For us there is literally no distinction between Kate and our boys. In fact, I do not even see her as "Chinese". She is simply Kate the Great, our daughter. Great post!!!

Sylvia said...

Another first adopter over here! We don't look like it though because of a incredibly long process and some failed birth control our "first" child has an older brother. LOL. But I totally get what you mean. It was the WORST when I was pregnant and every one assumed we would "stop all this silly adoption nonsense" once we looked into the eyes of our "real child". The whole thing felt like a complete betrayal of my daughter. Fast forward and having two children who are so close in age people think they are some sort of odd set of twins it's like our real choice is plain to see. People put two and two together and realize that we did not "settle" on adoption but made a choice. Now we get a lot of comments about how great we are to have done this. I once found a t shirt that said "first choice adopters do IT for Fun!" Maybe you need to make your selves up some t shirts :)

Alan said...

We are also first-time parents and adopters by choice. It's what led us to follow your blog!

Keep the faith.

Cory and Molly said...

It is interesting how the assumption is that adoption is the 2nd choice all the way around, and that given the chance, all adoptive parents would have "real" (bio) children. We are close to travel, and I'm shocked by the number of people who tell my husband and I that now we have relaxed, we will get pregnant on our "vacation" to get our son in China. Insanity.

Dex and Mel said...

I saw your post on RQ!! We are also adoption plan A people. The comments never stop! I have a co worker that just can't get her mind around adoption as plan A or adoption at all. She even went as far as to ask "when are you going to have your own?" "You know you will want your own." At this point she didn't even know that were not suffering from infertility!! How rude. I deal with her everyday. Just answer the questions and hold your head up high. We also live in an area where international adoption is rare. That doesn't help. Our daughter is a rock star and everyone knows her name!! Your daughter is adorable and she will show everyone how lucky YOU GUYS are!!

LadyBug Dragon said...

We're adoption Plan A family too. I love your blog and glad that you post things like this for Plan A AP to sympathize or educate others. E is an amazing girl, with amazing parents... no other identifiers needed. LOVE E's Cuckoo comment! Spot on; well done! And I love the pictures of her too; keep 'em coming!

Anonymous said...

I just discovered your blog and love it! My husband and I are in the process of adopting through China's Waiting Child program and it's just great to read about such positive experiences. You sound like the perfect Mom for your little girl! Thanks for sharing.

Lillie Family said...

This is the dance we will forever dance. Clearly now that I am preggo we get this all the time. I tell ppl we elected adoption and we then elected to get preggo using IVF and that they better not even go down that 'I know someone who' horse shit story.

I always make sure to go on to say how I will be adopting again from China and that I feel so lucky to understand the benefits of both.

This dance will never end I am afraid. I really just wish I had a better response then to essentially swear at them.

Sarah said...

Love, love, love your blog!! Thank you for sharing your adventures! We are leaving this week to bring our daughter home. I have learned so much- not just from this topic- but from your entire journey. Thank you.
Your family is beautiful!

likeschocolate said...

It is always amazing to me how people feel so free to give advise it seems on every subject once you have a child. I am sure you feel more blessed that she is in your life than the other way around. Every child whether through adoption or birth is a gift from God.

Tera said...

Wonderful post! We do have bio kids but looked into adoption prior to our first coming along. Adoption was always a plan of ours as was having bio kids. I get the "So could you not have anymore or did you just want to adopt?" comments A LOT. Ugh. I love adoption. I love what it represents. I love what it has taught me and I love that my daughter has a forever family. We are getting ready to go back again...and may again after that. :)

Becky said...

Tracy, keep it up. You are a wonderful writer.
Becky D. '95!

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