Wednesday, September 11, 2013

The Right Things

I’ve told you a lot about the rude, insensitive or just plain nosy things strangers have asked us about our kids or their roots. I felt like I should be sure to acknowledge the nice things that people have done and said. But honestly I’m worried about starting this because I am not sure how much I have to say.

Oh, come on now. Lots of people aren’t jerks. Plenty of them eye us up on say, “God bless you.” Though I’m not a believer, I can appreciate the sentiment. I think what they’re trying to say is that they think I’m a good person and that they believe that when I die I will go to a happy place in the clouds where I get to eat all the Swedish Fish I want and never have to clean up someone's vomit-filled bed again. I’m down with that.

Lots of people say, “Your family is beautiful” and I know that means they not only think we could be the first family of seven to all make viable careers as supermodels, but that they think there’s something special about a big, blended family.

Some of them say that our kids are so lucky. This one’s a slippery slope. If they’re saying that they think our adopted kids are lucky because we “saved” them, they’re barking up the wrong tree. There is no Savior Complex going on over here; our kids don’t owe us anything. We are the lucky ones to have our lives enriched by these children and their extended biological family. So I choose to believe that they are saying that all of our kids are lucky because they have such fun, smart, loving (not to mention good-looking, see above) parents. In that case, why yes, they are all lucky children indeed.

Some people find out how many kids we have and just laugh out loud. Okay, it was only one person one time. He was someone I knew since I was a kid and hadn’t seen in years. I actually loved his reaction. It made me laugh too.

Some people see how many kids we have and tell us we’re crazy. Sure, many of our friends joke about how crazy we are (no really, it’s just a joke) but recently a stranger eyed us up and said, “You’re insane.”  (Which I think meant she’d really have liked to treat me to an exotic childfree vacation if only she could afford it.)

Some people do really nice things like waive enrollment fees for us because they admire adoptive families. Or because they think we’re really good looking, I’m not 100% sure.

Some people barely know us but stop by with a package of diapers when they hear we got a surprise baby that day. That was tops on the “right things to do” list.

Once in a while, someone I don't know inquires about their Birth Mother with love and compassion. It’s so rare that in seven years of parenting adopted children and countless comments from the public, I can tell you exactly how many times it has happened: twice.  The first time was at the doctor’s office when the nurse was taking one of the kid’s vitals. She herself was a mother that had lived through an ugly custody battle and fought accusations of neglect from her ex-husband. Maybe it was that experience that filled her with compassion for a struggling mother, maybe it’s just who she is. She looked right at me and asked how their Birth Mom was doing, if I knew. She was the first person to ever ask me about her in a nice way and it brought tears to my eyes.

The second time was when I was at the library with my four kids and brand-new baby A who had just been born and come home to us. While we were there, I ran into a woman who I would chat with once a year at our mutual friend’s Cookie Exchange. As soon as she saw the sweet infant nuzzled into the baby carrier, she came over to meet her. When she realized this was Birth Mom B's third baby to come to me (I'm not even sure if she realized it was B’s eighth baby to be taken away from her) she looked into my eyes and said with a quiver in her voice, “Someone has to help her!”

"Someone has to help her." 

No judgment, no prying questions about her drug use or sexual history. Person to person compassion, mother-to-mother concern. It was the single most humane moment I may have ever encountered, a moment in which I got to experience absolutely pure kindness and love. I found myself rendered speechless as the tears streamed down my face in the middle of the library.

I would gladly suffer through another one hundred strangers asking me "why doesn't someone just tie her tubes already?" to experience another moment of compassion like that. And based on our track record so far, I just might have to.

1 comment:

  1. It was uplifting to read this after yet another interaction with my "friendly" next door neighbor who is convinced something has GOT to be messed up about my son because he is adopted. Here's to the understanding, supportive people we encounter - forget about the presumptuous, ignorant ones.

    And what IS it about those Swedish Fish?!!! I can't stay away from them!