Last week I finally made it back to my adoptive mother’s group after a very long hiatus. This year’s groups are going to be more structured so I definitely feel it will keep it more interesting and helpful. Since I’ve been feeling the need to explain adoption more to Boo, I really needed the advice I got from those who travel the same path I do. And it also got me thinking about creating his lifebook. You know the one I was supposed to do 3 years ago. Seems like I’m not the only one who’s been procrastinating. It seems like a fairly easy thing but really it can be quite daunting. First of all, being the grown up you could think that the book is geared towards an adult mind and all of a sudden you’re thinking what do I say? How much information do I put in? What pictures shall I use? Shall I use prints (ahem, who does that anymore?) or start one of those fancy scrapbooking things or photobook? You see what I mean? It starts getting complicated and I started to get overwhelmed and life just got in the way. One mother showed us hers and it was just simple photos and simple facts. Nothing fancy or elaborate, just handwritten. Time just goes on and I realize that believing that we wished for him won’t always be sufficient. Just the other day, I started asking him if he knew what a birthmother was and that I didn’t give birth to him and then the next thing I know he wants to know why my uterus is broken, and look! my arm goes like this, mama.
I don’t know if anybody realizes this, but adoptive parents are always thinking about the future of their child while simultaneously trying to safeguard their histories and prepare them from a random stranger’s curiosity. Hell, we have to prepare ourselves to deal with the rude, intrusive things that people say. “How much did your children cost?”, “Who are his REAL parents?”, “Where did you get her?” and my personal favourite if you are black, “Where are you from?”. Cause apparently you can’t be from here. I have dealt with that question my ENTIRE life. Just the other day my girlfriend and I took our kids to play in one of those jungle gym type places in a nearby mall and as we were saying our goodbyes in Walmart, this woman sees me and my son and starts commenting that my son is so cute. Well, that’s always nice, right? Then it’s like, “Oh, I think African American children are so cute” …OMG here we go…. and then she launches into a story about a woman she knew from Barbados and how delightful she was punctuated with her constantly trying to grab my hand in a show of kumbaya we are all one moment. “Where are you from?” “Here. Him too.” “Well, we’re all from somewhere else aren’t we?” NO, I AM NOT KIDDING! She would not take a breath and she would not stop blabbing, “Oh, look I’m so fair, I’m whitey and your are blackie and it just doesn’t matter….” Uh, yes, I did look for signs of developmental delay but perhaps she had no filters. Sigh. This, sadly, is not the only time this has ever happened to me. Luckily, we managed to disengage eventually and go about our business. I suppose I should be glad she didn’t start touching my hair. Or Boo’s.
I learned a wonderful, compassionate phrase – “I think what you mean to say is…..” and rephrase it for the insensitive and possibly offensive question that was asked. Adoptive parents don’t have to satisfy people’s curiosity while they are with their kids in a grocery line. Their children do not need to answer question either. One mother taught her daughter to say, “You don’t need to know that.” Hubby thinks women are just too nice and should be prepared to tell people when they are being rude and intrusive. Or to go f*** themselves. You can tell he’s never at a loss for words, huh?
So parenting is parenting, no matter what, but transracial adoptive parenting is a bit more complex. And if you’ve never been in the minority, well…. you will have your eyes awakened in a way you could never imagine.