Lately, the topic of adoption (with strangers) has come up quite frequently. I've been asked to tell our adoption story numerous times, been asked numerous questions (some quite personal), and at the end of each time that I've shared, the same thing has been said, "Oh, I had no idea that he was adopted." As you know, I've got two boys and they are BOTH adopted. One looks very similar to my husband and the other looks very similar to me. This was not done on purpose (yes, this has been asked). When we adopted Gus, we had been praying for several years for a baby. The ability to conceive was just not something that was in the cards and we didn't want to go through expensive IVF treatments that were not guaranteed. So we prayed and pursued domestic newborn adoption. Gus was the answer to many prayers and came after an abundance of tears that no one deserves to shed. The pain of infertility is something that unless you've been through it, you cannot fathom how hard it is. Every pregnancy announcement hurts. Every picture of friends basking in the glow of becoming parents, is difficult to look at. Infertility isn't something that many openly discuss, and it's not something that the majority of the public fully understands or sincerely empathizes about. Hugh was a different story. We wanted to adopt again and wanted a second child, but we were lost as to how it would go. We felt like we were so blessed with Gus's adoption, and that it appeared out of no where for us, that surely, we would never get that lucky again. When Hugh's birth mother contacted me and began to talk, I still didn't think anything of it. When a few weeks had passed and we matched "officially" it was unreal. I know for certain that Hugh was brought into our lives for a reason and he IS a gift from God, as his older brother is as well. Both of my children came from above, and they fill my life with so much joy, awe, wonder, and appreciation. I don't take them for granted and I KNOW how blessed we are.
Recently, we've had to do some medically-related things with Hugh. He's only nine months, but we've been going to appointments, meeting with teams of professionals to evaluate him, and each time, the fact that he's adopted comes up. And each time, comments are made that paint the wrong picture. Comments are made like, "Just think about how lucky he is to have you taking care of him." While I'm sure that comment isn't said with much thought behind the reality of the words, the truth is, WE are the lucky ones. We didn't rescue him for a horrible life. We didn't "save him" from anything. He was brought into our lives for a reason and that reason comes from above. While talking to various people about his background and family history (which is commonly asked when going to the doctor/pediatrician), for some of it, I have to say "Unknown" because 1/2 of his history will always be unknown. It is what it is, we can't change it, and it's just a fact. But when we write "Unknown" the questions start flowing. People think they have the right to just ask personal questions, so they just let them fly out of their mouths. "Why is his history unknown?" "Oh... his mother didn't know the guy she was sleeping with?" "His real father wasn't involved with his mother?" "Oh, his mom didn't know the guy that got her pregnant?" Seriously. I think the one thing that I've learned most after adopting Hugh is that you DO NOT know from outward appearances what someone has going on in their life. The outward signs might create one picture, but the honest truth is that you do not know what someone is going through or has gone through. I get so upset and frustrated when people assume bad things about Hugh's birth mother. I will not share details of his history, but she is and amazing, wonderful, beautiful, incredible individual. People are just dumb. In my MOMS Club, we've had a lot of new people join and as we're getting to know each other at playgroup and MNO (moms' night out) events, the topic of our kids often comes up. I've shared that my kids are adopted and with that, always comes a lot of questions. To be honest, I love talking about adoption and our story and I love sharing how our family was created. I am proud to be an adoptive mom and am open to talking to others about it. It's when ignorant comments are said, that I shutter and then think that people really have no clue. People don't know about open adoption, they don't understand how we could be actively pursuing relationships with both of our sons' extended families. "Aren't you worried they'll want to come back and take them?" Yes, I've been asked that one. I guess the only way to educate people is to share my truth and my story, and hope that they'll learn from it. Adoption isn't like shows that you see on television. Even shows like "I'm Having their Baby" and "The Baby Wait" (which we were asked to be part of) have been edited for television. As much as I love adoption and love that we're a family created by adoption, sometimes I get sick of talking about it. I'd love to be able to just talk about my kids and not have to answer questions about their "real" moms. Again, offended by the term "real" as I am their "real" mom-- I'm not fake! I hate the look of shock and pity that often comes when someone learns that they are adopted. I don't know which is worse, the look after hearing that Gus is adopted (because he's Caucasian, blonde, and blue eyed), or Hugh (he's multi-racial, dark hair, olive skin, and brown eyed). Adoptive families all look different. Families that are not created by adoption also look different. I hate when I hear (after learning that Hugh is adopted), "Ohhh... that makes sense. Yeah, he looks nothing like you." Thanks for that. Adoption is becoming more and more "the norm" and more common. People see it in the media more and more and I think it's more accepted than it used to be. It's not a taboo subject today, like it was years ago. But a lot of what people know about adoption isn't accurate, and a lot of it is still misunderstood. I think because we've been in this world for over three years, we see it differently than the general public does. I sometimes forget that people haven't taken classes, read books, and talked and talked and talked about adoption like I have.
Instead of rolling my eyes, shaking my head, and coming back with snide comments, I listen to people make ignorant comments about adoption and my children, and I take a deep breath, and I politely share our truth (usually). Some comments are ignored, and some are not.
Then I pray that God will continue to help me muster through each day and face it with strength, wisdom, and purpose.
My blog that's specifically about open adoption and how our family came to be complete.
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I'm Cathy and I'm a former elementary teacher turned SAHM. This blog has grown and evolved through the years to be my sounding board, then a place to share my thoughts, fears, and celebrations, and then where I post pictures and practice my photography skills. I blog about daily happenings. To read more about my family and how we're connected to open adoption, please follow our family blog: A Completed Family.