I Say We're Adopting, You Say...
Last week, I went over to my friend Katie's house to swim in her pool. I came in, dropped my bags and burst into tears, right there in her living room, wearing a swimsuit. The reason?
I had just been at the school subbing that morning, and a woman who I'm sure is very nice in real life had said some terrible things to me about adoption. I do not understand why this is. But it's about the 90th time that it's happened to me.
It goes like this: I tell you we are adopting an infant through open adoption. I have a smile on my face, full of pride, just like any expecting mother. Then, the person we have told does either one of two things: They either act really excited and loving -- you know, normal -- OR...they tell us the worst story they have ever heard about adoption.
It's about 50/50. I'm not kidding.
I do not understand why this happens, and it makes me SO angry. Then I get into a spiral of crying and depression where I think, "We don't get to tell people we are pregnant, so we get to tell them we are adopting. And now even that joy is taken away!! One less thing we get!"
So that was that day, when I sobbed, and Katie hugged me and it was like, "Well, I guess we are really friends now that you've hugged me while I'm crying in a swimsuit. Sorry this is so awkward."
The conversation went like this. Me: "We are adopting an infant!" Them: "Oh, that's wonderful. Although...I probably shouldn't tell you this, but..."
(This is where I want to hold my hand up in front of their face and say, "Stop right there. I know where this is going. And just stop. I don't need to hear the worst story you've ever heard about adoption.")
But I didn't. So this lady continued. "Well, a friend of mine who I have known for years adopted a little baby boy. And then when he was 6-years-old, the birth parents came and took him back. It was devastating for her. She lost her child."
I'm sure I was making a bewildered face. I've heard the bad birthparents story a thousand times. But this one made absolutely no sense. And so, because I was angry, I became sort of, um, aggressive. Bold. Pissed. I asked her, "Well, did they not have legal rights over the child? Did they not sign any paperwork? Was this an "Under the table" adoption?" She looked uncomfortable. "Well, I'm not sure, I..." I continued. "I'm just asking because birth parents have no legal rights in the state of Colorado. So it's odd that they were able to take the child back when he was six. Legally, that is never allowed. It doesn't happen. Unless they were neglecting the child or abusing him, then I'm not sure how that happened. I'm just saying that it sounds like their adoption wasn't legalized, because otherwise this can't be true. Who doesn't legalize their adoption?"
Then I peppered her with questions. "Did they go to court? Wouldn't the court rule in the adoptive parents favor because it's in the best interest of the child? Did they have an agency that intervened for him? Was there neglect or abuse? Did she have any legal claim over the child in the first place? Where were the birth parents all this time? Was it an open adoption? Closed? Foster Care?" The lady looked sort of embarrassed, like I had caught her with her hand in the cookie jar.
"Well, you know, I'm actually not sure any of the details..."
And there it is.
The sentence that follows all these horror stories. "I don't know the details." No, you don't. Just because you heard a story about adoption from your mother's brother's cousin's friend of a friend does not mean it's true. You don't know the circumstances, but more importantly you don't understand the laws or how adoption works.
In all honesty, you don't know anything about adoption.
She then mumbled something about work and went to go clean up after lunch. I felt bad for being so snappy. For like 10 seconds! Then I was super glad that I snapped back. Sure, she probably didn't deserve the full inquisition of my wrath, but seriously -- don't tell me the worst possible outcome for my anticipated joy!! Don't take that away from me, from us! The waiting is already hard, so I don't need you to stoke all my fears with your probably untrue doomsday scenarios.
The equivalent of this is if someone told me they were pregnant, and I told them about all the people I knew that had miscarriages, or children with birth defects. In the next breath. Seriously -- that's what it is!
Katie brought up a good point -- she asked if it was a generational thing. I thought about it, and yes. Every person who has responded with negativity has been over age 45. I know that adoption has changed a lot in the last twenty years. Adoption has gone from being closed to open, a secret to something to be celebrated. It's changed, and there are a lot of people who do not understand the changes. But that STILL isn't a reason to say these things to us.
I wanted to take that lady by the hand, sit her down and say: "Let's try this again. I say I'm adopting and you say.....".