Tuesday, July 11, 2006

On Adopting and Parenting the Hurt Child and Strangers' Reactions

I think that these two books, Adopting the Hurt Child and Parenting the Hurt Child, freak people out by title alone. I was reading Adopting while standing in line at the DMV, and all the strangers around me (we were in line 2 hours, so we got friendly) had an opinion to share, including the lady who renewed my liscense. Lets just say I'm glad I won't have to go back there for another 5 years. And next time I'll bring a book by Dean Koontz. The general comments went something like, "Why you want to adopt a kid that's hurt? Why don't you just go get one from an orphanage in China, my sister did that and she's adorable. You know they kill girls in China right? You should just get one of those. You know more serial killers are adopted, right? You have any pets? Probably should get rid of those now. What if that kid comes after you with a baseball bat?" and it went on and on.

I had some snarky comebacks, since it felt like they were attacking my kids ("my kids" were faceless, nameless concepts, but I was going to defend them nonetheless). That experience really freaked me out, though. The hub and I were still in the information gathering stage back then, and those strangers at the DMV were some of the first people that knew we were thinking about adoption. I'd expected people to do more cooing about how wonderful adoption is, considering how excited I am, rather than state plainly, "You better switch to plastic silverware."

By the time I got around to telling my parents that we were planning to adopt, I was expecting a reaction similar to the DMV, so I went prepared with stacks of books and printouts of articles. Well, I was worried over nothing. Once they got over their initial shock (90 seconds of slack-jawed silence), they were amazing. My dad cried and told me it was the most wonderful thing he'd ever heard. I was taken aback at how excited they were, and felt stupid or ever doubting them (fucking DMV jerks making me think my parents would disown us). Mom and Dad have since read all the books I have (except one I'm not quite done with yet), redecorated the guest bedroom to be more kid friendly (an antique evacuation), and for a long time had a printout of kids on their refrigerator. My mom has now started sending me emails like, "There's a really cute little girl in Oregon. Can you adopt from Oregon?" Her intenions are good and it is great to have her involved, even if she's kind of annoying. I think now that she knows we're verified, she's all about the future grandkids (her first), and even wants to cancel the vacation she and my dad are taking next month, since in our county we could get a call anytime.

Now that my mom is lugging around books with titles that scare strangers, she's gotten some comments, too. We talked about it, and she thinks their "concern" would be the same if she were reading a book called Parenting the Polka-Dot Child. Basically, anything that goes against the idea of "go forth and multiply, but those kids had better be perfect, healthy little clones of you," makes the general population uneasy, which then gets covered with that know-it-all stuff.I'm finding that the only people who don't want us to adopt are people we've never spoken to before. We've decided they can all take a flying leap, since we don't go to the DMV, Burer King, or First Aid classes to make lifelong friendships. Everyone we come in contact with on a regular basis knows about our plans, and they are more than supportive. My husband is now the darling of the women at his office (makes me giggle). Two other couples we know have begun looking into fost/adopt through our agency. Our regular waitress at our favorite Italian place asks us each week if we're going to need a bigger table, and wants to hear all about what's going on. A woman we know is now volunteering for Baby Watch through CPS. Our church is helping organize the scrapbookers and the quilters, as well as putting together a luggage collection, to assist kids in state custody.

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