Monday, October 3, 2011

Please, don't ask that. It's rude, and you sound stupid.

  My 11 yo looks more like me than he looks like his biological mother's family- and that’s a blessing and a curse in one. A blessing because I never get asked ridiculous questions the way an interracial family does- in fact, most people don't know he's adopted.

But a curse just the same, because when an acquaintance finds out (it’s not a secret and I’m happy to talk about it if it comes up, but don’t generally say anything unless we’re on the topic)- I always get the same stupid, “I thought YOU were his mother. I’d have never known if you hadn’t said anything. Are the girls adopted too?”

Well. Here’s the problem- and it’s my own stubborn nature giving me the problem- I AM his mother. No, you wouldn’t have known, so why are you suddenly acting like it’s the twilight zone? He’s my son, I don’t love him less or more than I did five minutes ago, or less or more than my daughters. No, my girls are not adopted. I love all my children. They are all different people, so no, I don’t love them ‘the same’- I love them differently, but in equal amounts.

I hate the fact that once someone discovers my son is adopted they feel like they have the right to his birth story, our entire history together, and to treat me like I’m suddenly LESS his mother now than I was before- or even worse the people who act like I’m some kind of “saint” for adopting. I’m no saint. I’ve made mistakes as a mother, as a person, as a wife. But the expectation that I’ll suddenly open my life to their scrutiny (and their judgements) drives me crazy.

 But I don’t discuss it in order to make someone think better of me, or worse of his bio mom. It’s no longer a painful situation, but it can make some people uncomfortable- and since they can’t understand, they try to use things they’ve seen on TV as a standard for how they think I "must" feel. For example, one lady who decided I must be sterile, and have battled infertility. Another who wondered (out loud, but thankfully not in front of my husband or son) if his birthmother had been beaten or raped by his birth father. Total inappropriate bullshit.

I also don’t bring it up with casual acquaintances on first meeting them, and somehow, this makes them feel ‘tricked’ later.

As if I should introduce myself with, “Hi, my name is Sarah. I have three children. One of whom is adopted, and two ‘regular’ children. I will take questions for ten minutes now.”

Conversely, there are some people that I will NEVER tell about the adoption. If by some chance they read it here, or another acquaintance tells them, fine, but it will never come from me.

I have a highschool acquaintance, who judged me very harshly the first time he heard I (at 31) had an 11 year old. I got the standard, "Oh, you were really young when you had him then eh? You should have been more careful. Did you finish university? It's too bad you didn't."

All those small sentences are a huge judgement of my character. As if he somehow always suspected that I was a "slut" (that would be his opinion NOT mine) who would drop out and have kids instead of finishing university.

And I wanted to jump to defend myself. But I didn't. If someone has that low an opinion of you, nothing you say can change it.

I could play the "adoption card" and try to make him feel bad for his judgements; to make myself seem self sacrificing and martyr-ish, except that I'm not either of those things. I do my best every day for my kids, and that's all I can do.

My choices are my own. My life is my own. My children are THEIR own- and I am so proud of them. Our lives are what we make of them. I owe nobody an apology for the life I've made. Parenting my children is the best thing I've ever been able to do, and the most important job I could ever have is to raise them properly (and by properly, I mean so that they love themselves and are happy).

I don't care how smart my kids are (well, I do, but not in a scary, obsessive way).

I love to use the fact that my son won National Honours in Maths last year in as many conversations as I can. My 5 year old can sound words out (when she feels like it) on her own. My 8 month old won’t crawl, but she loves showers.

I think every child has their own unique and beautiful talents, and given the right encouragement will grow to be happy and healthy adults.

THAT’s all I truly care about. My children might not be the best at everything, or maybe they won’t be good at anything. But they’ll be loved just the same. And I think that might be more important than feeling great about an accomplishment.

There will always be someone ‘better’ at something.

But nobody will be as loved by me as they are. And nothing, no amount of genius-i-ousity or talent will make me love them more, and nothing could ever make me love them less. And because of that, one persons judgement of me doesn't matter at all.