Dear Teacher…

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To My Child’s Teacher:

I wanted to make you aware of something you may not have considered in regards to these “Where I Came From” type of assignments. My daughter does not have a birth picture as most international adoptees do not. This can be very painful to some adoptees when class assignments such as this come around. My daughter was born in Korea where children are adopted in a very legal and orderly manner with children being placed with agencies after birth. Yet, part of her past is missing. And some kids from China are left in public places as it is against the law for parents to abandon a child and in that culture the gender of choice is male. Therefore, often girls are abandoned. In addition, due to the one child policy; abandonment happens to females in high numbers. These children often struggle with the fact that they were “left” somewhere.

In addition, having to include a story of their birth is very difficult because many children who are adopted have no clue about the story of their birth. They can’t say things like my mother ate pickles during pregnancy and cried and cried when I was born. They have no idea of the circumstances of their birth except that in many countires it is one of disgrace and shame. Instead of their birth being a happy time many adoptees feel that it is a time of sorrow where they lost their identity and their heritage.

My daughter cannot answer the questions of the hospital where she was born and who came to see her and how her mother felt. We can answer those questions from when we first saw her picture at three months and when she came home at almost 8 months but this seperates her out from the other kids. In addition, we only encourage her to share what she knows of her birth story with people she wants to and frankly it is not appropriate for just anyone to know nor it is not everyone’s business to know the circumstances of her birth.

These kinds of assignments can be hurtful to adoptees or children who come from “different” families other than a two parent mom and dad type of family. Many kids now come from gay families and may not be comfortable sharing that. Many kids now come from single mother with unknown fathers and may not be comfortable sharing that. Many children come from foster families and had abusive first parents who may have told them over and over things like, “I wish you had not been born.” Many times the birth of a child is not a “happy” time in a family and a child may know that. While the jist of these assignments are made with the noblest of intentions, in reality, these types of assignments are often uncomfortable and hurtful for children.

Just wanted you to consider this from another point of view.

Cheating A Little…Adoption

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So today I am cheating a little by putting up something I wrote several years ago. Why am I cheating? Well, I am getting ready to leave for Chicago tomorrow because Gracie has a big diving meet there later in the week. So I am super busy getting everything done that needs to be before I go which means I am too busy to write something. Thought I would leave you with something to think about.

 

If you are an adoptive parent especially one who is parenting a child of a different race then you know how many times you are broadsided by some stranger coming up to you with the expectation that they are allowed to ask any one of a million stupid questions right in front of your kids. It never ceases to amaze me the words that come out of a complete strangers mouth. Lately, I have not had to deal with this quite as often as in my children’s younger days so imagine my surprise when in the course of 24 hours I had the following exchanges with some people I have never been formally introduced to and will most likely never meet again.

I have to admit that I was a little evil with the woman at the Mini Mart but gosh darn it I had just been in a video arcade with a bunch of screaming kids for two hours. That is my excuse for my encouraging ignorance rather than making the time to educate.

So yesterday the kids and I go into a Mini Mart and first thing out of the cashiers mouth as she looks at Gracie is… ” ahhhh she is so cute…”

(Okay, I can feel it coming on. Let me see if I can read your mind and finish the sentence for you sweetie)

“Are they your kids?”

(I knew it. If I only had a nickel. I always know when we start out with a she is so cute it will be followed by nosey questions. But today I was prepared)

“Yep they are all mine.”

Funny look crosses her face.

“They don’t look anything like you.”

“Yeah I know.”

“I think they look Asian”

“Well, my ancestors are English and German”

“Their dad must be Asian then”

“Nope. Here is his picture. ( I pull out my husband’s picture) See, He is German too. Oh, and here is a picture of my oldest daughter.” (Who is as pale skinned as they come)

She stares at it, looks down at the kids and back at me. Confusion is written all over her face.

“Yep, the doctors don’t understand it either. They think it has something to do with drinking too much of the water when we went to Asia. Bye now.”

Yep, I know, a little devious and mean of me but after the 100th or so conversation that goes this way sometimes you just crack. That is my excuse for my very rude behavior.

 

And then this afternoon it happened again.

I was in the Super WalMart. Up walks this 50ish man.

(Oh crap… here is comes I think to myself trying to turn my body away but can’t get turned fast enough.)

“I know you get this all the time”……

(“NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO Don’t you F’ing say whatever is about to come out of your mouth,” I am thinking to myself)

“…but are your kids adopted?”

(Hmmmm should I go with the I just broke my ankle tactic to try to get out of here?)

“Are they from the orient?”

(Oh God…not one of these I just can’t take it today!)

“They were born in South Korea”

“Is that the communist country?”

“No, that would be North Korea”

“The reason I ask is because I have adopted eight of my own”

(Okay, maybe I can put my guard down a little because as an adoptive parent surely they must “get it”.)

“We got them in all colors. We have two of our own and then we got a Mexican one, and a black one and this one here (pointing to a I would guess 16 yo) well we don’t know what she is”

(Oh God help me and get me away from this idiot and let me find the social worker who approved this moron and get her license taken away)

“And one we have now is 3 and her Mom is in prison and the man she named as the father well his DNA didn’t match so I think we are going to get her thank god.She doesn’t need to have a loser mother like that.”

(Nor a loser adoptive dad like you who tells her entire life story to strangers while she is listening and wilting inside. This poor kid will need lifetime therapy thanks to Daddy O here. UGH)

“Sounds like you have a lovely family. We have to keep shopping. It’s nice meeting you.”

And just when I thought I was done I ran into him two more times and each time he starts a conversation and once his daughter looks at me as I pass and says

“Do they all have the same mother?”

“Why, yes they do. It’s me!”

 

It is after these conversations and situations that I feel for my children and all adoptive children everywhere. Intrusiveness is what they know. Being on display through no fault of their own is how they live. Being questioned by strangers and not wanting to seem rude is the norm for them. Having their own personal stories questioned with strangers trying to take them out and put them on display to feed their own curiosity is hurtful, annoying and separates them from “everyone else.”

When we first adopted it was difficult to know how to respond. Just how far do you go to keep your child’s story personal and theirs alone until they decide what, if any, parts they want to share. Now I just respond with, “Why do you want to know?” Usually that makes people think but not always. Sometimes no matter what you do you cannot shut these amateur sleuths up and you just have to be rude and turn away for the sake of your family’s mental health.

So the next time you see an adoptive family like mine please, no questions. Just smile and say, “You have a beautiful family.” I guarantee I will know what you mean. Then, if the timing is right, I will be glad to stop and talk to you about joys and sorrows that are involved in adoption. And I will share because my life has been enriched by adoption … but I will no longer allow your curiosity to intrude on our lives unless it is on our terms.images.Please forgive me for my “rudeness” as I will forgive you for your “nosiness.”  Amen.