Monday, March 9, 2009

I Can't Remember

So, years ago I was reading an article about Marie Osmond and how she has many children. Some adopted and some biological. And when people asked her who was who, she would say "I can't remember". I thought that was so cool and a great line. Part of the article discussed adoption and unthinking comments people can make. The point being I think, that all her children were her children and there was no distinction in her mind regarding how anyone appeared in her home.

When The Husband and I were first getting into the process of this adoption, we were handed huge stacks of old faded copies of information to read. Our agency was not the best so a lot of it was repetitive, or outdated. However there was a cord that ran through all of the binders that said, yours and your child's adoption is none of any one's business. Some folks may ask intrusive questions such as "which one is your real child?" and they gave a canned answer for you in case of iffin' you couldn't think of any, to say um, both my children are real did you think they were plastic? It was certainly insinuated that as an adoptive parent, it was somewhat of a duty to have a sassy remark at the ready and to clear up, one meddling person at a time, that questions such as ''was it expensive or did you get a discount" are not appropriate. You must carry this torch and do your part. Aggressively if need be. Okay, count me in.

Yesterday on one of the silly Hollywood TV ahem, 'news' shows, a woman is claiming to be a child of Jerry Lewis. The chippy lady 'reporter' said, he has 6 children all boys, and an adopted daughter. My radar immediately went up, ding ding ding, they shouldn't have said that! Prejudicing comment. Incorrect use of language. Discriminatory use of terminology. They should have said ol' Jer has 7 children and left it at that. Call the PC police. Schedule a protest. Schedule an adoption pride parade immediately following the protest.

That got me to thinking (ack! lol), but wait, if I say things like I can't remember then isn't that saying by default being born here is best or better? If the comment is meant to neutralize the question, when some dipshit asks me who is real and who is adopted, and I tell them I don't know, or they both are real then isn't there a hint that if I won't say who is adopted then being adopted must be second best? Or that being biological is second best from the other side? If my kids hear me not saying all the time, won't they think something is wrong and it must be one of them? I understand there is no good answer to the question especially when you have several children. You don't want to stand there going 'her, and her and him are the real ones". When your family is made up of visually different cultures then that is another level of rudeness. And I think it is rude for people to ask. Really rude. But sometimes I tell people who is who. There is nothing to hide nor be ashamed of. I am proud of both my girls and how they got here. Then I change the subject.

Sometimes I say, one was a gift and one we picked special! We got the best of both! I try to emphasize that both girls arrived in a special way, but I also firmly believe it. If I say I can't remember, doesn't that take away the specialness of both children as individuals? I don't think adoption is something to hide and I want both of my girls to know it and live it. Being the birthed one isn't the better or the worse either.

Then, where I might actually want to 'educate' people or carry the torch is to nudge and say, you can do it too- see? There is nothing special about me and nothing special about you either. You can adopt a child with special needs or older or with medical problems too. See? Here is mine, and she has no horns. Yeah it's hard, a lot of shit is hard. So? It doesn't take a 'very special person', that is an excuse people use that is code for, thank god you did it so I don't have to. 'I could never do that' is the excuse for ugh, I don't want to.

Someday, and someday soon, I will be turning the responsibility over to my girls themselves. They will tell people whatever the heck they want. They will probably make mistakes in judgement and they will hopefully learn from it. They will probably make some stuff up and lie to tweak peoples nerves or check their reactions for fun. They can tell people they are twin aliens if they want to.

These are my thoughts today. I would love to hear what other people think! There are FAR more educated and experienced people than me out there and I would love to hear how you handle intrusive questions and why and what your thought process is. Happy Monday.


  1. My most fave question....where did you get them? That's my fave.

    No one has to ask which are which it's obvious, I say some are born of my body and some are born of my heart. They are all born. All labored for. All delivered to me, although through different avenues.

    I also find it odd that no one seems to care if the bio kids through your abdominal wall or out the old fashioned way. I should be really graphic next time someone asks.....I'm a rebel.

  2. I'm going to be completely honest here and probably open my self up for some criticism.

    If I am talking about Dustin's special needs I will refer to him as my adopted son. Since he has Fetal Alcohol Syndrome I will always make people understand I was not the one who drank during pregnancy.

    Perhaps that is selfish. Perhaps it's all the anger I have for his birth mother. Perhaps I am just a horrible person.

    So there. . . I said it.

  3. I'm with Sheri. Though I love my kids like crazy, I would DIE if I thought anyone thought that I made them that way. I mean, have you met my kids? They are CRAZY. And not a little bit...a LOT. I am glad they are adopted so I am not responsible for that level of insanity. Some day I may get a baby (ha ha yeah right) and screw that pooper up, too, but at least now I don't have to take the blame.

  4. i am with you i get asked/just stared at, every single day. People have said things like she doesn't look like you,(no shit sherlock, she must look like her father, is her father taiwanese ( i say yes and walk away happy as i didn't lie!). At church it's kind of funnier people ask me oh your husband is Tawianese right, i say i don't have a husband...that shuts them up, then i tell them the truth. On Creating a family(podcast)they talked aboout this issue, and sometimes it's good to say that they are adopted as others may be thinking of adoption and might do after you talk to them about it(maybe...). Oh and here people always ALWAYS tell me i have "big love heart" (translated)...Do i hate that one, i'm a bit selfish really i wanted a baby, and i got one :)

  5. that is so awesome for you all to be so honest about it. I was thinking I might get slammed.
    When Genea had failure to thrive, I felt the need to casually mention we were adopting her. I mean, FTT, that is horrible stuff and for her it was the tip of the iceberg medically. But, like FAS, I would never want to be the one people look at thinking, bad, terrible mom should be locked up.

  6. I did the same when Sarah was failing to thrive...i made sure they new she was in an orphange for a year before i got her and now she's doing really well thank you!!
    ps i can see you up dated your blog but i can't read it..i guess in need to wait...strange.

  7. ps its a shame that we can't chat online...maybe you can email me your msm/gmail/ what ever and then i can say hi if i see you are on at the same time (which isn't often! its paula.perry at gmail

  8. I am with Sheri and Torina. I used to say she's adopted (with all the crazy behaviors)now it hardly ever comes up.

  9. I am browned skinned and my first child is dark skinned, my daughter is bi-racial and my last two are blond and blue-eyed, olived skinned and green eyed. I get told all of the time what a wonderful nanny I must be to take care of so many kids. I just smile and say "They are all mine. They look like they daddies and I like all kinds of men!" and sashay away.:)

  10. BWAH HA HA De, I had NO IDEA you were so sassy!

  11. I think most people are well meaning and curious (even when ignorant) with their comments and questions. But, the smart, sassy comebacks intended to point out their ignorance sort of rub me the wrong way. I don't know why agencies TEACH that crap. Just my 2 cents.

    Although, my daughter was 7 when we adopted her, so it isn't any big secret.

    Funny story though: once at church, in Katya's little SS class, where Katya is known as "Kate", I off handedly called her "Katyusha" when I picked her up. The teacher stopped with a start (we have a big church, I don't know her personally) and said, "Oh! Are you Russian?" And I said, "No, but Kate is." "Are you her mom?" "Yes." Big pause. "Oh, we adopted her last year. Kate never told you that?" "No...but that explains a lot." (WTH???!!!) So, I think I was supposed to be annoyed at the comment, but inside? I was kind of amused and relieved that she no longer thought I raised her from birth to misbehave the way she sometimes does! I'm so glad to see I'm not alone in this! And sometimes, it's nice to play the adoption card. lol.

  12. I have enjoyed this discussion! Its good to see how those who have been there handle it. I don't have any adopted children, but I have a step son and I have never said he was anything but "my son" and that's it. People who are close to us know, and those who don't will have to get close enough to learn it. My children are my children. He calls me mom and to him I am. Good enough for me!

  13. YES, YES, YES! You are wonderful! Seems to me that if a parent is ANYTHING but honest it DOES make it look as though being adopted is something to be ashamed of, or kept secret or whatever. Of course, I'm into NO SECRETS... Well, not many. On one of my yahoo lists the agency-instilled-correct-idea came up again that it is "their story" and not for us to share. And I thought - what a lot of HOOEY! So, my mom should never have told anyone about my birth and conception because it was MY STORY? My grandparents, aunts, uncles, etc. should be shrouded in clouds of secrecy because they are part of MY STORY? NO - they belong to my whole family...and somehow when I adopted my kids, I think I adopted their history too. It is now part of MY STORY so I can darned well talk about it. Of course, I find everything about my children's parents and relatives delightful, interesting, flawed, just like everyone else. I'm thrilled to have a whole new set of Russian relatives.

    On the other hand, one day I was standing with a bunch of moms of Anastasia's classmates and they were sharing childbirth stories and I found the words, "Anastasia's birth was really easy..." about to come out of my mouth - really. The only thing that stopped me was that, for some odd reason, I couldn't remember any of the details of her birth...took me a moment to remember why that was. Sheesh!

  14. Haven't dealt with this YET but my favorite "smart" answer about if they are real siblings is, "Well, they fight in the back seat." said with a smile. I think the smile is key--without it, the answer is belittling. With it, it's a warm, affectionate answer that stops the questions and lets the asker kindly know that q&a is over.


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