These comments are something I struggle greatly with. Not that the comments are necessarily always hurtful, I guess I just find them naive/ignorant, insensitive, and sort of irritating. I remember when we first brought Emmanuel home... We were so happy, just like any new parent is when they bring their tiny infant home for the first time. He was beautiful and we were so in love, and so excited to show him off so everyone could share in our joy.
I always felt a sting of irritation when someone would look down into the face of my tiny infant son and say, "so... What? Can you not have your own?" I would think, "what does that have to do with anything? He IS my own. An orphan has a home... Do these details really matter, or are you just nosy? Why do you assume that I only adopted as a fall-back?"
For anyone who has received these comments, I'm sure you understand what I mean. For anyone who has made these comments, I apologize if you're offended. You may be wondering, "well, then what am I supposed to say?" Well, a first option, when in doubt, is to not say anything at all. I'm not saying to just pretend that a child isn't adopted and treat the parents just like you would a new pair of biological parents. I know it is different, I do. But it isn't so different that joy has to be turned toward curiosity. I have had people ask questions that I didn't find irritating. I remember some comments like, "I love that you adopted! I think that is so beautiful!" Or even questions like, "So, what made you want to adopt?"
I guess all I am saying is, be sensitive. I know my newborn son, and even now that he is 9 months old, didn't, and doesn't understand when people ask questions or make comments. But he one day will. I never want him to think that he was a plan B.
I had Emmanuel at the gym with me a couple months ago, and I was sitting on a bench waiting for Mitch to be finished in the locker room. A woman that I had never had a full conversation with before this day came up to me and said, "Is this your son?" I told her that he was and she asked how old he was. Obviously, the woman can do that math and know that 6 months prior I was definitely NOT pregnant. She looked confused and said, "Now.... Did you...birth...him?" I laughed a little and said, "No, he's adopted." Her immediate response was an expression of shock mingled with confirmation, and then she said, "Oh!... Well, that's ok." As though I should be embarrassed or think that it wasn't the best option. Like I said, Emmanuel was too young to understand that comment, but one day he won't be.
Another recent conversation I had falls under this idea. I know of a couple who have been trying to conceive for years. I understand their plight, and I know it is a painful road to travel. They have undergone multiple rounds of IVF which included one conception quickly followed by a miscarriage. They have been going through fertility treatment for at least 4 or 5 years that I'm aware of. A mutual contact told me that they had just had their final round of IVF and would soon find out if they were pregnant and wanted me to pray. She then said, "they have looked into adoption too, just in case." Just in case? I said, "Well, I obviously am a fan of adoption! So, if they go that route, I'm supportive." I can't remember her exact words and I'm not sure I can fully describe her facial expression, but the conversation concluded with the idea of, "well, hopefully they won't have to adopt."
My heart sunk. I honestly felt sick. I am a mother through adoption... ONLY through adoption. And I wouldn't change that for anything. I love my little boy so much! The idea that someone could look at my family...the family that I would choose again and again, and think, "too bad they had to do things that way," breaks my heart. Do not assume that adoption provides only the second-best life for the child OR for the parents. People choose adoption for all different reasons. And yes, unfortunately, for many, it is the second-best life... But not for me, and not for hundreds of other adoptive parents.