Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Strange Milestone

Strange milestone: awkward conversation with a stranger about adoption. Check.

Yesterday we all trucked down to the Oregon State Police building to get fingerprinted for local and state background checks. (Another one for federal FBI coming later.) We sat patiently--as patiently as you can sit with 2 small children--in a small room the size of Carson's bedroom as the overly chatty fingerprinting-guy helped and gabbed with 2 gals from a nursing school who were in front of us. Then it was my turn, so I paid and gave him our paperwork.

As we were waiting for the computer to load (digital fingerprinting is the best way to go, but you still have to rely on the computer), this was our conversation:

Chatty man: You guys doing foster care or adopting?
Me: Adopting.
CM: Really? Someone you know?
Me: Uh, no.
CM: A stranger?
Me: Uh....a baby from Thailand.
CM: REALLY? Thailand?
Me: Yep!
[silent, awkward pause as we both stared at the computer screen, wishing it would boot up already]
CM: I've heard of them coming from China, but not Thailand. Why Thailand?
Me: Well, uh, it was a long decision process and it was just the best choice for us. We're really excited.
CM: But isn't is that so expensive?
Me: Yep.
CM: Why didn't you get a kid from Haiti?
Me: We looked into that, but it's not an option right now.
CM: Huh.
Me:[nodding awkwardly]
CM: OK, so please put your right thumb right here....

I knew it was coming, and this was actually mild compared to some of the situations I'm preparing myself for, especially in 2 years when I have a blonde, a redhead and a black-haired baby in tow.

I'm completely aware that a lot of people either don't "get" adoption, or they have minor or major reservations about it. And I need to be able to be OK with not everyone thinking this is the best decision ever--and voicing those thoughts. I had a great conversation with a mom this weekend who adopted about 12 years ago. I'm soaking up her knowledge. (Yeah--you know who you are!) She pointed out that most people you find yourself in a conversation with have good intentions, they just have no frame of reference. They may say something completely offensive out of ignorance. (FYI, if you remember one thing, remember to take the word "real" out of your vocabulary when referring to birth parents or biological children. A child's "real" parent is the one who raises them.) But unless you or someone close to you has gone through an adoption, why would you know how to act, what terms to use and how to keep from coming across rudely? Adoption is a huge unknown, even to me. Even to my friends and family. We have so much to learn.

Speaking of learning, a friend of mine who is an adoption social worker told me that she has worked with several birth moms here on the west coast who are specifically looking for an adoptive family who already has children. So, the information that I had (that most US birth moms will select a childless couple) is not true in every case.

We found out recently that another couple we know is adopting. They are almost done with the process, and are just now telling friends and family. So, you know, basically the polar opposite from us! But it fits them. And this [publishing every minor detail from the beginning] fits me. I'm learning so much already, even in only 2.5 months. And whether you are going to be an important part in my child's daily life or you are just a casual blog-reader, I think you can learn a few things too.

7 comments:

Peaby said...

learning...thanks!

Jewels said...

I completely agree I like what you are posting and appreciate learning from your experience. Since we were little my sister has talked about wanting to adopt so I know I will walk through this with her one day also.

Jay and Chandra and Penny Regan said...

One thing I discovered is that my own adopted daughter (teenager) calls her birth mom her real mom. And she has no problem with saying that we adopted our cat from the humane society. I understand what she means and no one is offended. I just teach her words like birth mom, foster mom, adoptive mom, etc. Since we have adopted, I get surprisingly fewer odd conversations than I imagined I might. Maybe because my daughter is older, I'm not sure. Have fun on the journey!

Kristen Ann said...

I love these updates... It makes me feel apart of the process :) And even that more special!
Look forward to more of your adoption adventures and am so excited for you.

Diane Davis said...

SO glad you are a processor because i love the details! excited to learn from you over the years... it will ALWAYS be a journey!

Dionne Sincire said...

I am following your journey and learning a lot. Adoption stories make me feel awkward. Your posts (the details) challenge me to explore my awkwardness.

Much of my awkwardness is due to the fact that both my parents were foster children. My mom was adopted into a family, but things did not fair well for her. My dad, on the other hand languished in the system. My parents had different experiences, but the result was the same--they both grew bitter.

Obviously, this is not your journey, but through your blogs, I'm learning to explore the roots of my own awkwardness.

Michelle & Luke said...

keep publishing every minor detail. i like it :)