Wednesday, January 11, 2012

This One Time...

A post from another blogger (CallMeMama) reminded me of a similar experience I had when the kid was a newborn. And I felt compelled to share it with you.

I was in my 2nd semester of grad school to get a Masters of Social Work when the kid was born. (Side Note: Yes, working full time, going to grad school almost full time, and parenting a newborn does suck. Big time.) I skipped my classes the first week he was born because, well, I mean, wouldn't you? And my professors were wonderfully understanding. One actually went so far as to order me to not come in. I adore her to this day for that.

When the kid was about 10 days old, though, I went to class. I, as I think most new parents would do, took in a few pics of my darling babe. At the beginning of class I passed them around and shared some basic info. I mean, we'd been in class together for only a few weeks and though none of us knew each other well, they did know me well enough to know that I hadn't been pregnant 2 weeks prior. So, I told them that we were adopting him and thrilled beyond words to have been chosen by his birth parents to be the parents who would raise him.

Most everyone oo-ed and awe-ed over my baby kid (as they should have because, I mean, he was freaking adorable). One girl, however, kind of freaked out, wanting to know why we had a black baby. She, too, was black and didn't think we, as white parents, should have this baby. I explained that we didn’t decide to parent a “black baby” (her words). We wanted to be parents and were open to whatever child came to us/was meant to be part of our family. We were chosen by the kid's birth parents and the difference in our races didn't bother them. I said that it was their decision, not hers. And if she had a problem with it, then I recommend she look into adoption herself. The rest of the graduate level social work class nodded their heads in agreement and we went on.

Fortunately, that was nearly 6 years ago and it’s been the only experience of that kind that we’ve had. However, it’s hard to feel like you have to “justify” your family. And what I know now, is that I don't actually have to justify my family to anyone. But I didn't know that then. Now, I decide when presented with situations whether I will let things be, or whether I will take the opportunity to educate people about adoption in general or transracial adoption specifically. I used to just babble on and on about it. Now I tend to be much more judicious about what I say. I used to probably tell a lot of my son's story. Now I realize that his story is his own. And that means that he gets to chose what to tell others. Not me.

On the flip side, I feel like it's so very important how I respond to adoption related comments and questions. Because he's there, always listening. And how I respond to questions - whether I'm uncomfortable, or how much I chose to share, or whether I am respectful  - affects how he thinks about adoption (his own, his brother's, and in general). It also affects how/what he thinks about himself. I have to be so much more intentional in the words I choose to say, and with those choose to share with others. Because he has big ears.

So, when I think about the incident that happened almost 6 years ago, I wonder how I would respond to such a thing now. I think I'd probably say about the same thing, if he weren't there. I don't know how I'd react and what I'd say if he was. I think I'd better figure it out. Because I suspect that it's just a matter of time before it happens. And I need to have my ducks in a row, so that I project confidence. So that he knows we can talk about adoption, that it is a safe topic. And that he only has to share the information he wants to share.

I have a post brewing in my head about the reasons why I think this woman had such a strong reaction. I think it's multi-faceted with cultural and historical components. Will let ya know when I get that cranked out.

Today's lesson: I'll leave you with the words of that adorable kid. The sweetness of the apples is only topped by the sweetness of the love my brother gives me in his kisses. Sometimes the heart nearly bursts from the amount of love in it. This, is a most wonderful feeling.


Lechelle said...

excellent post.

Why aren't we Facebook friends yet? You should look me up, lechelle hendricks.

callmemama said...

I like your response. In our case, the birthmother didn't chose us - she didn't want to be a part of the process at all, in fact. So I can't fall back on that one as a "defense". Still, it's not right that we have to defend our family anyway. As if there is something wrong with us :(.
I'm looking forward to reading that post when you write it!