Monday, June 8, 2009

Adoption comments hall of fame

It has become something of a sociological experiment for me to catalog the different responses I get to the "we're adopting" news.

Most people in my life have reacted with a joy, excitement, and curiosity about the process that mirrors my own. But there are other times when a reaction stings a little (or makes me want to reach in and rip the person's heart out, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom style.)

Here are some of my not-so-favorites:

1. Russia? But there are so many American kids who need good homes…?

The implication here is that whenever a person selfishly makes the choice to adopt abroad, a big fat tear rolls down one of said American children’s faces (for dramatic effect the tear should roll down while the child is looking out a rainy window and holding a broken baby doll).

I could list a zillion pros and cons for each way to adopt, but suffice it to say that when it comes time to choose, you just have to go with what feels right to you. It might be adopting from down the street or it might be adopting from the Planet Zorgon. Like many other huge life decisions, you won't know how to cross that bridge until you come to it (on Zorgon though it will most likely be in a hover craft).

Also, I find it interesting that no one uses the, “U.S. kids need homes” comment for pregnant people. As in,"Gee, it's really a shame you're pregnant. Don't you know there are lots of kids who need good homes?' (It's best if this comment is accompanied by a look that says, What the hell is wrong with you, you selfish bastard?)

2. Maybe now that you’re adopting you’ll get pregnant! (Like Charlotte on Sex in the City! Like my best friend’s neighbor’s sister-in-law!)

Taking people at their best, I'm pretty sure this statement comes from a desire to console the prospective adoptive parent who has probably struggled trying to get pregnant and so the adoption announcement might signal a throwing-in-the-towel type moment. But I don't think people realize how insulting this comment is. The implication is that an adopted child is my booby prize but my “real” prize might still be coming and I shouldn’t give up hope just yet.

I used to think that deciding to adopt must feel like the walk of the infertility losers. That starting the process would feel like defeat. The shocking thing doesn't. At least not for me. I am filled with a hope and love that had started to deflate after years of infertility struggle. I feel refreshed, not defeated. For three years we’ve been hoping for a child. We have not given up hope for that.

3. I’ll have a baby for you!

Super! I'll have my doctor contact you so we can start the Invitro process. I hope you're okay with very large needles, copious amounts of hormones and LOTS of different people peering into your love hole...and then of course the blessed pregnancy and childbirth (which I've heard is a breeze), thanks for offering to do it for me!... How's next month for you to get started?

What's that?

Oh, I didn't mean that you'd really do it...

4. Have you tried/considered/looked into/heard about…?

Yes. I have.

BONUS: This is a comment I only got once, but it's a real winner.

Receptionist: How old will the baby be when you get it?

Me: I don’t know. A year? Two years?

Receptionist: Oh...well it’s the best when you can be there from day one. It’s the most amazing thing in the world.

Fantasy response #1: “Well, it’s the most amazing thing to have a million dollars too, but I don’t. I've still managed to lead a happy life though, amazing isn't it?”

Fantasy response #2: “Yeah, I’ve cried many, many nights over that, but thanks for reminding me I’m going to miss out on the first year of my kid’s life. I hope you have a nice day.”

Real response: “….”


Amy said...

Steph! Have you heard about the fact that I'll have a baby for you?? In Russia!!! But only after you have adopted 2 American children, to prove your worth as a human.

Anonymous said...

Ugh! I can't tell you how many people made the "Maybe now that you’re adopting you’ll get pregnant!" comment to us . . . it is so insulting, you hit the nail on the head. It's so unusual too because usually the most considerate people say the dumbest things.

And for all the people who offer to have the baby for you, how many times will they have to go through the process, fail and then give up?! Hmm?

james ford said...

Oh... My... God... you said "Love Hole."

If I called anything on Natalie a "Love Hole" I'd get punched dead in the face and lose all access to it for months.

That being said, people mean well but are fairly stupid. I could write a blog about all the horribly racist/compliments I have been given over my lifetime and it'd take you a week to retract your jaw. I'm still amazed how many people think you can use the N-word as a prefix to something else in the presence of black people and it's okay (ie, n-rigged, n-rich) because they didn't call "you" that.

MsLisaL said...

God, I hope I haven't said any of those. I do know that I said I wished I could have the baby for you. Not the same thing, right?

I only wish you all the best, no matter where your child comes from or how old she is when you first meet her. First and second year aren't really all they're cracked up to be. Diapers, spit-up, no sleep, big-head syndrome. :o)

Steph said...

yes, I wish I could is different. Plus, you KNOW me. I've had people like receptionists say that, "Oh, I'll have a baby for you! I just can't stop getting pregnant!"

Anonymous said...

Here are my top 5:
--Oh really, you're adopting? What flavor?
-- You can have my kids, I'm sick of them.
--Sounds cool, maybe I'll adopt too (as in, maybe I'll order the penne pasta)
--You're so lucky, you get to avoid the labor pains and stretch marks.
--I heard you're buying a baby.

But most people couldn't be happier or more supportive, from perfect strangers to close friends and relatives.

Best of luck to you, and hang in there for the wild ride.

- Tamar (Yahoo adoption group)

Anonymous said...

One of my sisters in law,normally a perfectly sensible woman said.. "thats a great idea. By adopting a toddler all the hard work will be done for you!!!!"

Harv said...

We got all the comments except, "Have your tried ... " because we were well past fertility years when we started adopting our 11- and 12-year-olds.
One woman followed us from a Mother's Market (a So Cal chain) out to the parking lot to attack us verbally for not adopting American.
The difficult comment for us is the "You are so noble for adopting a Russian child," because we realize we are doing it for essentially selfish reasons of wanting children. We are prepared to risk their future on our unproven competence as parents. I tried explanations for a while and adopted as my standard, "Thanks for your kind words."

Nancy said...

Hi! Yes, we got many similar comments. Oy!

We've adopted from Russia twice--in Aug 2007 and April 2009. Our boys are wonderful!



Deborah said...

This was one of my favorites... A woman in the grocery store looked at my newly adopted 5 yr. old son from Russia and exclaimed, "Oh my! Aren't you worried he's going to grow up to be an alcoholic?"

I was in too much shock to respond other than to say, "I'm more concerned about my son in college on that right now!"

Debbie Mumm

Kelly said...

Wow. Some of those are pretty damn impressive in the thoughtless-comments category.

My mom adopted two kids from the U.S. (she started fostering them when they were 8 and 10). They were sexually abused, neglected, malnurished (they used to beg food in the streets), and beaten. In addition to a host of learning disabilities (poor genetic luck), they also have a ton of social and emotional problems that will follow them-- maybe for their whole lives. I take my hat off to my mom for adopting them, but I also know that her decision has meant enormous sacrifices and enough frustration to last her a lifetime. It all sounds very romantic to adopt an older child from the U.S.-- particularly special needs children with behavioral issues-- but the reality of it is quite another story.

Kids need homes EVERYWHERE. Does it really matter where they come from as long as they're loved and cared for?

Anonymous said...

Hi! Is great that you are adopting but is a trend for people to go to Russia to adopt because is fairly easy and lets face it they are white... and cute but it is a life time responsabiliy that by reading your blogs I wonder if you are ready, I have seen people that have adopt kids and then get divorce or just parade them around like some movie stars do but in the real world so few people have what it takes to be a good parent even with their own, maybe you are doing it because other people around you had. Good luck to you and the kid!

Anonymous said...

While I acknowledge and appreciate the fact that everyone is entitled to their own opinion I think some of your (Anonymous) comments are a little bit out there... First, after reading these blogs what is easy about waiting almost two years??? Second, after everything we have gone through as a society why would race/color play any sort of role in this decision? Who is to say that the child will be white? Not having adopted a child from Russia I am not personally familiar with the forms and adoption process however I would hope that there is no such box that states "pure white russian", "pure russian", "white russian" or just "russian". Lastly, I feel it is very presumptuous to determine whether or not someone is "ready" to have children based on reading their blogs... there is more to a person then what they write and how they write it. I would truly hope that you don't know Steph on a personal level because I personally am extremely excited for them and I feel they are going to be very supportive parents. Again everyone is entitled to their opinion. Congratulations again on your decision to adopt and best of luck to both of you, I know you'll be great parents!!!!

Anonymous said...

It's amazing that anybody, for any reason, would give bull caca to anyone who adopted from anywhere what so ever.

"Jeez! You're such a jerk for taking that kid from that super awesome orphanage were they slept three to a crib and were never burdened by personal attention and love."

Being a parent, no matter what the circumstances, is like the most unselfish thing of all for those who take it on. I hope that you adoptees don't let other folks silly comments bug ya too much.


Kelly said...

Oh, and the anonymous person who said "from reading your blogs I wonder if you're ready to have a child," how fucking presumptuous, judgmental, and arrogant can you get? She's not adopting a puppy, she's adopting a child, and I'm pretty damn sure she understands the difference. It takes years of research, work, expense, waiting, and hoping to even adopt a child-- it's certainly not easy, and it's not an accessory for her handbags. They're adopting because they want a child, period.

Steph, I think you have another insensitive/stupid comment to add to your list. You're one of the most caring, open-minded, thoughtful, dedicated, down-to-earth, honest, courageous people I know. I know you and Danny will be great parents.

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Jamie said...

great post!

#1 I get ALL the time! I even left a church we were checking out because of it.

I even had a friend say " we're going to adopt, but DOMESTICALLY" in a very judgy way when I was with a group of girlfriends....

I've had doctors tell me that since my husband and I are so young we're making a huge mistake by having him get a vasectomy
(this was AFTER the procedure) and we'll want more of our "real" children eventually.

As far as you bonus comment is concerned....I would like to punch that lady in the face. And #2 We have a two-year-old biological son and after we had him we decided only to adopt because #1 I almost died having him, #2 we were already planning to adopt, #3 I really am not into the infant stage! I was so excited that we would be adopting a three-year-old and I would never have to be the mother of an infant again!...not that I disliked caring for my son, but I was so anal about everything it consumed my life for the first two years. So if you can pick why not get a toddler :-) ????