There are quite a few adoptive families in my school district, some conspicuous, some not. I was waiting for my kids to come out of school when I heard a little girl’s voice scream “Daddy!!!.” I looked to see an Asian girl jump into the arms of her Causation father. Meanwhile, her older sister, also Asian and adopted, and their Caucasian mother were looking on smiling. It was beautiful. A daughters exuberance for her father and outwardly displayed. If only it was just another ordinary gleeful moment. I smiled but in my head, I started to think and wonder how’s it going there in that family? There is a child adopted in one of my son’s classes. She knows it, and I know it, no one else seems to notice. It feels like a secret club, the art of knowing something others don’t. Then, I wonder, what does she think about being adopted and having to do all those class projects? Her baby picture looks like everyone else in the classroom where six of the 21 kids are Asian, and yet it doesn’t. It’s a referral photo. I know it, she knows it…
I once told an Asian American friend of mine that there is a slight style difference for the kids adopted and those not; between the Americanized Asians and the adopted. I am not caught by surprise when I find out he/she is adopted. They move differently and most of the time, their clothes are different and their jackets are not buttoned all the way to the top with hat, scarf and gloves on either.
There is adoption in my church. I am watching, listening and trying to put on a happy face while the excitement of creating family is cooed over. I love these couples, particularly the gay couple. I can’t wait till they are fathers. All the while I am thinking, wondering, questioning, judging. It makes me anxious and nosy and wanting to run out of the room all at once. I know too much. It never turns off. Occupational hazard or personal life hazard?
I go to a dinner and the proverbial question of what do I do for a living comes up. To say I work in adoption brings about a smile and “awww, that’s so nice.” Pause. Do I say I am adopted too? Rather, what to do when the host or others introduce you as one who is adopted? Mindful of that wedding I went to and outed as adopted on the receiving line. Awkward and wishing for the floor to open up and suck me down. Really? That’s how I am seen? That is the conversation starter? I AM the conversation starter? I admit to not having thick enough emotional armor to shield me from wincing inside and the stomach begins to churn and I can’t wait to go home.
I am passionate about adoption, but perhaps not in the usual way that most people are accustomed to. I am not sharing the glamorous story of how a child was saved or the exotic travels to far away backwards places to rescue a baby. I have no harrowing story of the wait, the process, the delays, the angst, the heart in your mouth drama till a child comes home right where she belongs…. I don’t want to talk about my time in an orphanage. What will it mean to you to know why I was “given up” for adoption. I don’t want to talk about how I “tracked down” my birthmother or the miraculous way she found me. I don’t want you to tell me what great parents I must have. I don’t want to see that puzzled look when I say that life wasn’t all that great growing up adopted. I definitely don’t want to talk about how grateful I must feel. I don’t need to hear about an adoption story gone well, wrong, amiss. I don’t need to hear the whisper of how messed up a kid was or how blissfully happy and “totally normal” your adoptee turned out.
Most of the time, I just want to know how the dinner came together, what drinks are good, the latest parenting mishap and what it’s like to do what others do.
Sometimes, I just want to have dinner, pick up my kids, fall asleep in church unnoticed and turn it all off.