Sunday, December 02, 2007

Ambassadors for Enlightenment

One of the "pleasures" you sign up for when you choose to adopt is the inevitable torrent of "interesting" comments by both friends and strangers regarding your child. Whether you want to sign up for it or not (and I can assure you most of us don't), it is inevitable.

I'm sure that most of the people making the comments have no idea that they are being hurtful, offensive or simply way off base. In most cases they simply don't know any better. So, while I don't really want to educate the world, I do what I can, when I can, to respond in a way that may educate at least one offending individual. I am hopeful that this strategy will lead to a more enlightened view of the planet one itsy bit at a time. *sigh* What can we do but try??

Here are just a few of the comments I've faced in the short time since Island Boy has been home:

Helpful person: "Oh, what an easy way to have a baby!"
Me (thinking): You've got to be kidding me!! (Ok, yes, that is a cleaned up version of what I was *really* thinking!)
Me (responding): It really wasn't easy at all. We waited over a year from the time we began and we had to wait over six months from the time we saw our baby's face for the first time until we were able to bring him home knowing he was growing older while we waited for the courts! (I didn't get into anything beyond that, thinking just that alone must have been bad enough to endure!)
Helpful person: "Yes, but didn't you just have to fill out some papers and you ended up with a baby?"
Me (thinking - sarcastically): Yes, you're right. It was very easy - just like applying for a bank loan.
Me (responding): You know the process really was very, very hard on us. It is emotionally draining and uncertain and nothing about it is easy.

Alas, I am sure the person walked away from that encounter none the wiser, but hey, I tried.

Another category of puzzling comments comes from those people that feel the need to remind you every time they see you (sometimes they are subtle, sometimes not) that your child is adopted. First of all, I already knew that, thanks! Second of all, pointing out to a child that he joined a family via adoption seems akin to saying, "did you know you arrived via C-section, little boy?". It's rude and completely unnecessary.

Of course, as one dear friend reminded me, I cannot shield our little boy (or myself, for that matter) from all of the stupid comments he will get in his lifetime, so the best I can do is try to educate him on how to gracefully deal with them. In the meantime, I'll try to figure that out myself. ;-)

So what type of comments *are* appreciated? Any type of comment that you would make to any family welcoming a child into their arms.


Glen and Andrea said...

I totally, totally agree with you. I just don't know why people don't react the same way for all new children joining a family. People's comments have been coming thick and fast to us and we haven't even got our boy yet! Just 2 days ago we ran into some family friends of my husband's parents and told them of our referral for our little boy and were expecting a congratulations. Instead we got "well then the hard work will begin" we informed them that we have had years to prepare for it and said that it is already very hard for us now so we were looking forward to being parents and they then said "well we have friends that finally had twins when they were 41 after years of trying". What do you say?!?!

Kim said...

I think the book is now considered outdated, but my parents got me "Why Was I Adopted" which I hold close to my heart - it explained that you, the adopted child, are special; but that doesn't mean you don't have to eat your peas or do your homework, etc. I'm pretty sure I always knew that I was adopted and that meant I was special.

About what strangers say, I can't really say; I think I grew up in a place where everybody pretty much knew my situation already and there weren't a lot of strangers around. But I think you've handled it beautifully so far!

Chairman Mom said...

Oh, heavens, yes. Three years later and we still get tons of "unenlightened" questions and remarks!

We need to make a database of snappy comebacks. :-)


Sherry said...

Oh just the 1st of many comments... I've gotten some horrible ones & Im just thanking God that Kobi cant understand what the people are saying yet. People are clueless & I guess we'll just have to tell our boys that so they dont grow up with a complex??

Lata said...

You're right, sometimes even well-meaning people can be insensitive, and the bigger concern is how the kids will take it when they grow up and hear it, so I think as parents, we need to prepare them for it, and toughen them up a bit. Overall, people have been encouraging though, so maybe the trend is towards people being more understanding about adoption?

Here's wishing that we all hear a lot less comments like those, especially once our kids can understand them.