Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Uncomfortable exchanges

I'm not sure what about me says "adoption poster mom," but apparently there must be something others see that I cannot.

I do understand that adoption is a unique life experience that most people just have not had, so that "singles us out" as being different. That's okay, but sometimes there are those who cross the line into being inappropriate or just plain obnoxious.

This post has been brewing for weeks, and I just haven't had the time or the energy to sit down and pour my thoughts out here. Though, I will say, my husband has gotten an earful. :)

A couple months ago, an older woman from our church (whom I've known for years) came rushing up to me, all excited to tell me some news. Let me preface this story with the fact that this woman, although very kind, is not someone who is known for being tactful or soft-spoken. She's taken an interest in us, though, for different reasons, and I think one of those reasons is the fact that we are an adoptive family. Evidently, this intrigues her. I think she also likes to interact with my daughter as a "granddaughter" of sorts, because she does not have grandchildren.

She was very aware of our being in the adoption process three years ago. She was happy for us when we were matched, even giving us a huge gift bag of adorable coordinating Carter's outfits for our daughter-to-be. But, she's never understood anything about what we've experienced, much less the loss our daughter and her first mom have gone through. I listened to her literally question which month she should pray for Sassy to be born in -- November, because her birthday would not be close to Christmas? Or December, because it had a prettier birthstone? I believe she finally settled on praying for early December, the best of both worlds.


So, this is the picture.

Back to a couple months ago, when she excitedly rushed up to me to share some news.

"I just had to tell you this exciting news! My best friend's son and his wife can't have children, so I told them all about you."

Naturally. Glad to hear I am the silent spokeswoman for infertility.

"I told them how you couldn't have kids and how you adopted and you went through [agency] and had such a marvelous experience."

Marvelous. That really is the word I'd use for an organization who bullied, lied to, and threatened us, and still is operating under the name of Christ.

"Anyway, they were so encouraged by your story, that they also went through [agency], and they just finished up all their paperwork..."

Um, wait a minute... when exactly did they hear MY story? And what part of it would make anyone WANT to support the same organization? I think I'm missing something...

"...and they just got a call that they are getting a baby in 6-8 weeks!"

I really do love when the FedEx man can give me a rough estimate of when to expect a human child to be dropped on my doorstep. It's nice to plan ahead.

"The birthparents are this really nice, young couple who attend [in-state university], and they just don't want the baby."

Yeah. I can totally buy that. Most nice, young couples don't want their babies, so nothing about that statement seems absurd or even a little off-base to me.

"Anyway, I just told them all about you and what a blessing Sassy is to you. I knew you'd be so excited, so I just had to share with you!"

Excited. See? This is my excited face. Pick up on the cues, woman.

I'm not entirely sure where to begin with what is wrong with this picture. I don't even know what bothers me the MOST. Is it the fact that this couple went through the same agency who has brought so much pain upon so many people? Is it the fact that the baby involved is being referred to like a UPS package? Is it that nagging worry that these "birth" parents might be making the wrong decision, with no one to guide them toward reality? Is it the flippant attitude that infertility is no big deal and that adoption is the cure-all for it? Is it that I now feel like I had some part in contributing further to said agency's profits without my knowing or my permission? Is it that adoption is still being painted as a win-win-win situation, with no room or regard for its less marketable (though still very real) qualities?

And how exactly do you BEGIN to scratch the surface with someone who just HAS. NO. CLUE.

The answer? You don't. You simply just don't. I wish I had a better answer, a more positive one. Something that would make me feel like I've at least made a small dent in someone's mind -- just one person. But it's such a MASSIVE issue with so many complexities... how can you do it justice in a five minute conversation in passing?

As my blank stares and glazed-over eyes apparently said nothing to this woman, all I could squeak out was that "it's an emotional time, for sure." That's it. That's all I could say. And then I went home and sobbed.

I had a good cry that day -- for the parents who were facing the dread of losing their child, for the baby who would be losing his or her mommy and daddy, for the waiting parents who might not even have a clue what adoption loss is, and for us. This meaningless, one-sided conversation ripped open wounds that I thought were more healed than they were. I cried because adoption is such an ugly process. I cried because building our family is not so simple as planning nine months in advance. Because I don't know how I can stomach the adoption process a second time, knowing full well what it is like to leave a hospital room with someone else's baby. And yet, if I am completely honest with myself, I know that I would love nothing more than to have more babies, when the time is right. So, what are my options? Adoption or a miracle from God.

Well, it is now 6-8 weeks later. That same woman was ever so thrilled to tell me that the couple's (as in, the adoptive couple, not the people who had the baby) baby had been born, and they were going to "pick it up" the following day. Guess that delivery man must have lost their address. Faulty delivery system.

Then, she said to me, with voice lowered and eyebrows raised, "But... I have to tell you, they were so nervous because... the birthmother breastfed the baby." She raised her eyebrows further and gave me a look as if to say she'd really just told me a juicy piece of dirt.

I let it fly, and I didn't care one bit. I'd had ENOUGH and couldn't tolerate one more shred of this crap.

I don't remember exactly what all came flying out of my trap, but it was something to the effect of how ecstatic I'd have been if Sassy's mother had been able and willing to breastfeed her. How amazing that experience is for a mother and baby both. How nutritionally beneficial, and how emotionally bonding. What a unique experience that no one else can duplicate. I'd have been cheering her on. And what's more, a mother is a mother always. No piece of paper is powerful enough to deny the connection that mother and child have forever. Think of how she felt when her children were born, and imagine trying to squelch that love you automatically have in the most natural way. The fact that my child has another mother does not in ANY way take away my place in her life as her mom. It may not be "normal" to some people, but it IS her reality. We've always viewed this as a choice -- to embrace it or to deny it. What good does it do anyone, least of all our precious daughter, to sweep honesty under the rug? It is what it is, and we are proud of that!

She stood there for a second, a bit taken aback, I think. And then she changed the subject to something completely unrelated and random. The weight of the conversation had shifted, and now she was the one who was uncomfortable. It was obvious she didn't know HOW to respond, so she chose NOT to respond.

I came home that night and told my husband that I'd like to think I made just a small, tiny, microscopic dent in her way of thinking... but I seriously doubt it. She probably just thinks I'm a nut job, but maybe at the very least, it will deter future commentary. :)

At least for a little while.


  1. Oh, my! I was reading with such intensity and feeling so burdened for you and then my jaw just dropped and I laughed out loud when you said you let it fly! :) Oh it is just overwhelming sometimes when well-meaning people are so off-base about adoption. That woman would have stressed me out to no end, and I wouldn't have been sure where to start either. I am proud of you for standing up, though, and I know it must have taken a lot out of you emotionally. I know it isn't always the case for sure, but I wonder if part of her being so clueless is a generational thing? She sounds like she might be of the age of the Baby Scoop Era where you didn't see your child, and often weren't even aloud to know if you had a boy or girl. Certainly the concept of breastfeeding the baby would knock her socks off! LOL

    So sorry this has been weighing on you. :( For those of us who view our adoption experiences through "reality" glasses, it can seem impossible to help others understand the good, the bad and the ugly. But you did a great job, and I'm glad you got that woman off your back! LOL :)

    As for the stuff you mentioned about adding to your family, I wish I knew of the right thing to encourage you. It IS complicated, but the Lord will lead you in the right way. I can't believe that you are always going to be a family of three. I am thankful for parents like you who consider ALL of the factors, not just the ones that are marketed. D, you ARE the kind of person who should be in the process because you are not out for yourself, but rather, are considering everyone involved. You have the wisdom and discernment that is lacking in a lot of folks who are well-meaning but clueless.

    Glad to see a new post from you! I was wondering about you and thinking I should touch base! :)

  2. I'm so glad you said something. I know those people are well meaning but they drive me up the wall. Adoption is complicated, you can't expect them to understand the finer points, but you can expect them to understand the basics of your situation and respect your feelings and experience. *fingers crossed* you've got her thinking and in the future she listens and learns more.

  3. wow, I so understand what you mean on so many levels

  4. Everything Jenni said. Everything.

  5. I can't stand when people ask me "Why didn't she want her?" People also think I am some sort of expert on fixing infertility problems because I'm an adoptive mom. "You should talk to Mrs. Soandso. She can't get pregnant." As if my talking to her will cure her infertility. Maybe they think I will give her some sort of cure-all adoption pill. :o|