Us and Them

As soon as we put in our initial paperwork to adopt, I began reading blogs and searching for information like a maniac. Ok, I was actually doing that before too, but the hunt intensified greatly after our application submission.

I don’t really know what I was looking for; I think I was just grasping at any info I could get. I wanted to know what the process was like (which there is very little info on about domestic adoption in Canada/Alberta…I must not be the only one in this country writing about domestic adoption…am I?), I wanted answers to attachment issues, how to handle family and friends, and most of all I just wanted to know what you do that first day with a strange little being in your house – do you just sit and stare at each other?  How do you know what to feed them?!

What I found was some of that stuff, but a lot of what I read was very inner-circle-I-belong-to-the Aclub because I had suchandsuch comments made to me in public. And those suchandsuch’s were very us (aka adoptive mom) vs. the world (aka other moms). It appeared that every adoptive mom was initiated into the special inner-circle-Aclub because they have had to loudly and publicly state smart-alec responses to negative comments about their adopted child from ‘the world’. It seemed that most adoptive moms had all had awkward grocery store moments with strangers’ gawking eyes and rude questions about their child. That they’ve all walked away from playgrounds feeling triumphant with their smartly worded comebacks and sassy lessons to the the ‘yeah but who’s his real mom?’ question from the world.

So I braced for the worst.

And nothing happened.

Family – check. All supportive and happy

Friends – check. Appropriate squeals of delight, hugs and lots of (appropriate) questions when we told them we were adopting

Public – either pretty bla-za about the whole thing (no reaction) or more congratulations

And, when I officially announced to my larger group of colleagues that we were adopting (some people knew, but I waited a little bit to shout it from the roof tops because it felt like this special little thing that I had wrapped up in my pocket and I wanted to keep it all for me for just a little bit), the excitement and congratulations for us were overwhelming. Not one person made one politically incorrect comment. How disappointing.

We were surrounded by encouragement and support from our family members right down to the grocery store check out gal (yeah I really did shout it from the roof tops…. I also may or may not have had a little holy-shit-this-is-really-about-to-happen freak out moment just before we met Jonathan with a very supportive and lovely cashier from Dollerama one night…maybe).

I don’t doubt the bad stories happen. The horrific, inappropriate, hurtful, ignorant questions that some people ask I believe are true because people can be cruel (let’s talk about the stares we get at Jonathan’s cochlear implants one day shall we?)

What was hard to find, and maybe it is why I kept looking, was positive adoption stories about moms who were out and about interacting with other moms and just having, finally, a normal experience.

But there’s a reason those positive normal stories don’t get written;  nobody’s going to blog about a time they went to the park and their child played with another child and they talked to another mom about laundry and grocery shopping.

There’s a reason we blog about adoption – and it’s not to document our mundane interactions and how normal and easy it is!

Adoption IS a different experience, but just like I don’t know what it’s like to carry a child and give birth, others don’t know what it’s like to adopt. And so we have conversations. And ask respectful and curious questions. We learn from each other and support each other because at the end of the day raising kids is hard work. At the end of the day, no more us vs. them.

If you are adopting, and you too are reading like a crazy person like I did and you are thinking ‘oh my dear, that’s what I have to deal with?!’ Take it in, but don’t think that those are the only stories out there. There are so many positive experiences you will have meeting moms…grocery store check out people… who will be excited and supportive. Oh you will get the stares and the rude comments, maybe, but that’s such a small piece of your interactions with the rest of the world.

I’m not sure if I have written what I originally set out to say here…my thoughts are jumbled and rambley. But if I could be more concise I would say (and too bad you didn’t read this last paragraph first, could’ve saved you 5 minutes;): Having kids through birth or adoption are two very different experiences each unique and wonderful and full of their own challenges. But, at the end of the day, there is no reason why there needs to be this us vs. them mentality. And if you are adopting – prepare for the comments, but embrace and enjoy and bask in the excitement of others for your growing family.


6 thoughts on “Us and Them

  1. I’ve certainly heard the comments (in fact, I’m one of the people who have written an entire post on the strangest questions we’ve been asked) but overwhelmingly, the response we’ve had over the years has been positive. I also am very careful to answer almost all questions very kindly as I realize that not only is it a curiosity thing because adoption is different for most people, but also because if my family is the face of adoption to that person standing in front of me, then I need to leave them with a positive impression.

    I’m so glad that you’ve had such a positive response from family, friends, coworkers and the cashiers!

    Thanks for linking with Adoption Blog Hop!

    • It’s nice to hear that your experience has also been mostly positive too! Maybe in my searches for info, the negative posts and articles etc. stood out more because negative always beats positive in our silly brains, unfortunately! I know the comments and strange questions happen for sure (and I’ll be sure to read your post!) I want to write one day about the comments and looks we get because of Jonathan’s cochlear implants – it’s amazing what people come up with!

  2. I agree, no “us vs. them”, (and I happen to be both lol). Most people truly are supportive and encouraging, it’s just that the others get the publicity, you’re right.

  3. I’m another one of those who has written a post on the negative comments, in fact I’ve written a couple in various guises. I think many of those awkward comments came at the beginning when I was sensitive to how I became a mum, I felt different, therefore I acted different. We’re several years in, and I’m a birth mum too now and the questions don’t bother me. But I do find it hard when people comment or question in front of my son as if he’s not there, or when they brush aside my concerns or react negatively. It shouldn’t be us vs them, but self preservation often kicks in and makes it so.

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