Let’s face it, adoption can be a little weird.
Throw in the fact that adoption is also often transracial, a family of one particular race adopting a child of another race, and you have a recipe for awkward moments in public. Not too many weeks ago my wife was in line with our two children at the post office. Our daughter is biological and our son was adopted from China. Something about this scenario prompted a woman in line to tap my wife on the shoulder and exclaim “He’s Chinese!” I wish she had been thinking just a little more quickly because I would have paid good money to see her feign a startled look and yell something to the effect of “Oh crap! We gotta get him back to Chuck-E-Cheese NOW!”
Of course, that would have been wildly inappropriate but we have found that, at least in middle Tennessee, when you aren’t the same color as your child, you can pretty much check ‘appropriate’ at the door. We are learning to take most comments like this in stride, choosing to address them in humor rather than offense, but still, there are those moments where we have to remind strangers that what they are saying is inappropriate to be saying period, let alone the fact that our children can hear their rudeness.
I’m reminded of the time that the dental hygienist commented that it’s probably good that our son’s mom abandoned him since now we don’t have to worry about her coming back for him. There are at least four things in that sentence that you just don’t say to an adoptive family and my wife was quick to inform her of her error. Then the front desk got an ear-full on her way out as she explained that “we never want to see her again and you should probably not let her work with any adoptive families in the future.” Sure, it may have been a little drastic but who is going to look out for your family unless you do?
Adoption is weird. Sometimes weird in a funny way but sometimes weird in a heartbreaking way.
Here’s the deal, these comments are a way of life for us. They don’t come daily but they do come frequently enough that we aren’t shocked by them anymore. I have enough faith in humanity to still believe that people don’t mean to be offensive or so obviously confused by our family; they are no longer damaging to my wife and me. I do, however, harbor some concern for our son. At three years old, I’m not sure that he has totally grasped that his parents and sister look different than him. In fact, based on comments he has made, I’m pretty sure he thinks that China is just where babies come from.
He has got a journey in front of him that I have never had to travel. When I was growing up people commented on how I looked just like my mom, because I did. The only negative stereotype I ever had to face was being bad at basketball, and I am. I have my dad’s laugh, I have my mom’s eyes, I have albums full of baby pictures. My son has none of that. Instead, 30 years from now, he will be an Asian man raised in a white family with a lot of questions that have no answer. That breaks my heart.
That’s adoption. Adoption is weird. Sometimes weird in a funny way but sometimes weird in a heartbreaking way. One of the things Megan and I have talked about as we have walked through this crazy life is that it doesn’t take a special family to adopt, it just takes a willing family. It takes a family willing to embrace the weirdness, a family willing
to choose to laugh instead of scorn, a family willing to look a little different in Christmas cards. But let’s be honest, the families in at least 70% of the Christmascards you receive each year look a little weird in their own way.
Yes, adoption is weird. But weird isn’t bad. No, in fact, weird can be a heck of a lot of fun! All it takes is a family willing to step out and be just a little weird.
I’d love to hear about your experience being the weird adoptive family. Drop your story in the comments below.