Last weekend, I experienced one of those moments where someone says something that just gets my blood boiling, my body shaking, and builds up an almost irresistable urge to scream. One of those”innocent” comments about adoption that reminds me about the inherent prejudices that still plague the adoption world – and no matter how many times I hear this bullshit – it never diminishes my surprise at people’s naive perceptions.
So, back to the story… I was sitting by the campfire, mostly listening to conversations being had by others. I was tagging along with a family who had gone camping together. One of the grown children was talking about her 9 year old daughter, and how her daughter had decided she wanted 4 children. She wanted 2 biological children, and then she wanted to adopt 2 children. Of course, I’m telling her that’s really cool. Then the father of the grown woman, the 9 year old’s grandfather, said “Why would you want to do that?” My ears pricked up at that – and I said “What do you mean?” He clarified that he didn’t understand why she would want to adopt when she could “have her own children.” Again, I said “What do you mean? Why would you say that?” So, he responded, “Well, I believe that everyone should raise their “own” children. Not someone else.” I sat there unable to say anything for a minute – with my mouth hanging open and shock on my face. I finally said to him “Well, that really isn’t an option for a lot of families. Do you know how many parents in Haiti have to sit and watch their children die of starvation, and of disease, while they waste away in poverty? They choose adoption because they have no other choice. They choose adoption because they love their children and want them to live. It’s not like they are being tossed aside. It is truly a matter of life and death.” He looked at me and finally said “Yes, you have a point.”
I was furious. I ended up having to walk away so that I didn’t keep pushing him and making the situation even more awkward. Eventually, he realized that he had upset me, and he came to find me. He asked me if he had upset me, and I told him he did. I always appreciate a good apology, but this is where the situation actually went from bad to worse. In trying to explain his comment, he told me “I only have 1 grandchild. I want more. I want great-grandchildren. That’s why I made the comment I did, because I want more grandkids/great-grandkids.” I looked at him, and I said “That is the part I don’t understand. There are so many ways to build a family – and if your granddaughter decides to adopt – they would still be your grandkids!” He didn’t seem to understand this concept, and kept talking about how he needed great grandkids. So, I told him “I think that if she does adopt, you will realize at that point that you love that child just as much as any of your family members, and you will realize that there is NO difference in the way you feel.” His response was “I am a very loving person, and I’m sure I would love them.” Again, we just had to drop the subject.
Ok.. there are a few things that I am very sensitive about. Adoption happens to be one. I have had so many experiences that show people’s prejudice around adoption – and they don’t even know that they are doing it. It’s like this situation – where it was so easy for him to make a distinction as if he couldn’t love someone who joined the family by adoption – and he had no idea why that would be offensive to me. It shocks me every single time I am faced with this sort of situation.
My children have been anything but “easy”. They have been plagued with so many emotional/mental difficulties because of their history. It’s been rough. But I love them with such an intensity that it is indescribable – and I would never/have never regretted my decision on how to build my family. I look at them and they are my kids. In every single way and in our relationship and my love for them is in no way influenced by the fact that we do not share DNA. I couldn’t love them more no matter what. Why is it so hard for people to understand that concept? Why is it that blood relations seem to be the “superior” connection/relationship by so many people?
I could go on about this forever… but I will end my rant with this. I am completely aware and accepting of the fact that adoption is not an answer or a solution for everyone. However, for those of you out there that have not had experience in adoption, and for which it wouldn’t be an answer for you – please understand/accept/realize that for those of us for which adoption has touched are lives are no different than you. Our kids are no different, and our relationships with them are no different.
By this point, I was s