Sunday, November 11, 2012

Yep, I'm real

I know I usually blog about crafting, but I got one of the big questions this week.

As an adoptive mom, there are about 15 or 20 questions and comments I routinely hear. They range from the ridiculous (Does she know you're her mom?) to the downright insulting (How much did she cost?), and I get at least one of them at least once a week.

This time, the question came from a doctor. I was seeing him for a first-time consultation. About halfway through the appointment, he turned to me and asked whether I'd ever want children of my own.

"I have a child of my own," I said patiently.

After that, there was an awkward silence until I handed him his co-pay and politely left the building.

I wish I could say I was always that nice. I try to be. Most people see our family as different, and difference always invites curiosity. Intellectually, I realize this. But, emotionally, it can be another story. And the doctor this week awakened me to the reality that it's not going to stop. I rarely think of the fact that my daughter is adopted. Much like the fact that my husband is from New Jersey, it's an origin story that exists in our lives, but is inconsequential to our day-to-day existence. (Unless we're actually in New Jersey, of course. Then, I'm the foreigner).

But, if a respected (and highly Yelp rated) medical professional could ask one of the big questions, it occurred to me that it might be helpful to list them in a public forum, along with my answers.

These aren't the answers of every mom. Every family is different, and everyone has their own way of dealing with the curiosity of strangers. And, of course, I've taught Amelia that she can always politely decline to answer a personal question unless it's being asked by a teacher, a police officer, or her pediatrician. But, for what it's worth, here's what I usually say. And, yes, I've actually been asked (or told) every single one of these. Often more than once.

Q: "Are you her real mom?"
A: "Yep, I'm real. Unless we're living in the Matrix."

Q: "You're a saint for taking her in."
A: "No. we wanted a kid, just like anybody else. That was actually kind of selfish of us."

Q: "Her mother is a saint for giving her up."
A: "No. Her birthmother is just a woman who made a very smart and difficult decision."

Q: "Her mother must be a horrible person for giving her up."
A: "No. Her birthmother is just a woman who made a very smart and difficult decision."

Q: "Do you plan to tell her that she's adopted?"
A: "Well, since she's biracial and we're white, it's hard to avoid. But, seriously, it's been part of her story since day one."

Q: "What is she?"
A: I usually let Amelia answer this one, since she's more than happy to tell people that she's an "invisible ninja princess." That's always funny.

Pictured: Invisible Ninja Princess

Q: "How much did she cost?"
A: "She's priceless. But, honestly, you can't buy a baby. That's illegal. And, our adoption fees are none of your business."

Q: "Was her mom on drugs?"
A: "I'm her mom. You're referring to her birthmother. And, I wouldn't ask that about your child. Please don't ask that about mine."

Q: "Did you get to name her?"
A: "Yes, but if her birthmother had wanted to name her, we would have been cool with that. The important thing is that we've given her about 20 cutesy nicknames that will haunt her through adolescence."

Q: "Can her real mom take her back?"
A: "I am her real mom. And, no, her birthmom can't take her back. Our adoption is final and she's going to live with us until she goes off to college. Even then, I'll probably still be doing her laundry on the weekends."

Q: "Was adoption heartbreaking for you?"
A: "Not really. It was difficult, but so is pregnancy and labor."

Q: "How far did you have to travel to adopt?"
A: "About 30 miles. Adoptions are domestic as well as foreign." (I blame Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt for the frequency of this one).

Q: "Was it hard to get a healthy newborn?"
A: "It always is, even if you have biological children. There are no guarantees in life."

Q: "Don't you think it's your responsibility to adopt more?"
A: "Adoption isn't charity work. And, I think it's our responsibility not to adopt more than we can handle." (Again, I'm blaming the Jolie-Pitts)

Q: She's lucky to have you.
A. "We're lucky to have her."

Pictured: My amazing luck


  1. Great post, my friend. I think you and your husband are doing a wonderful job bringing up your daughter, she is obviously a very happy, loved, and secure child and I am glad you found each other. There's always stupid people out there, and your answers are just perfect!

  2. AMEN.

    (And also: HOLY MOLY. I can't believe people ask you all those things. Jeez.)