Monday, February 7, 2011

Adoption and The List: Week Six

As an adoptive mother of four beautiful girls and a birth mother of three unruly boys, I am pretty sure I have been asked just about every question and heard every offbeat statement the human mind could possibly muster. These questions and statements have not only come from friends and family but also from complete strangers. Allow me to list my top five favorites and save the rest for my book.

"Where are their real parents?"

I never cease to be amazed by this question. I understand people have a "National Enquirer" curiosity about things but please. As if asking this question itself isn't enough of an invasion of privacy it has been asked in front of my children. I learned early on to forego the right to be offended and instead attempt to educate the offender. I say attempt since it has become obvious through the years that there are those who refuse to be educated. Their loss. My simple answer has become, "You're talking to them!" For those foolish enough to push the question further after that response, I have found a direct, "…and you need to know because...?" usually changes the direction of the conversation. We are not ashamed of our children's birth families however we believe this information is for them to share with whomever they choose if and when they choose.

"Those girls are so lucky you adopted them."

Really? Why? Not one single soul has ever approached us to let us know how lucky our boys are that we birthed them. Believe me, that was no easy task! We adopted the girls for the same reasons we birthed the boys. We are selfish. That's right, selfish. We wanted children to love and care for. We wanted a chance to raise children and maybe make the world a better place because of it. Ok, maybe we also wanted lots of kids so when we are old there will be people around to love and care for us. Like I said, adopted or birthed, it was all selfishness on our part.

"Aren't you afraid there could be something wrong with them?"

The truth is, we were never afraid there might be something wrong with them. We knew there would be. Just like we knew there would be things wrong with our birth children and just like we know there are things wrong with us. No matter how much you know about your genealogy you will never know it all. Life will surprise you. Sometimes with illness. Sometimes with character flaws. Sometimes with biology. Sometimes with environment. But sometimes life will thrill you with what lies beneath the surface. It will amaze you with a child that has a hidden talent you could have never imagined. It will leave you in awe of a child's character trait you could only hope to find in yourself. Who has time to fear when you are watching with wonder as your children become more than you could have dreamed for them?

"I could never adopt. They wouldn't be my blood."

Guess what? Your spouse isn't your blood. Many times neither is your best friend. Sorry to burst your blood bubble but there it is. The truth is, you CHOOSE to love and who to love. Love is not always a feeling or blood-based. Ultimately, love is a choice.

"Don't you worry they will go looking for their birth family?"

No more than I worry I might go looking for mine. I am not adopted but I have a curiosity about who my relatives were and are. I know a lot of them but not all of them. There are times I have sought out the unknown and then there are times I have been content with what I have. As an adult, this is one of the joys and prerogatives of my life. Why would it not be the same for all my children? Just as my family has helped in the search for answers to our families questions, I would count it my privilege to help my children to find their answers if they so choose.

Ok, so I know I am a smart alec. I come by it naturally I suppose so blame it on my birth parents. Anyway, one of my reasons for sharing our adoption stories this past week was with the hope that maybe, just maybe, someone reading this blog would have an “AHA” moment. Every person is different and called to follow their own path. But what if even one person reading this last week suddenly saw their path open up? A path that would change their life forever. A path that would lead them straight to the heart of a child through foster parenting or adoption or being a mentor or... What if…?

Now, onto week six of The List.

6. Mow your neighbor’s grass.


Katie said...

Dearest Marla,
I love you.
That is all.

(is that creepy?)
[I hope not.]

Rae said...

Sometimes it is better for a person to keep their mouth shut, then open it and ask a dumb question or say something really ridiculous. Too bad so many don't know when to do that.

As the white grandmother of three biracial grandchildren I have encountered some of those stupid questions too. I used to get angry, now I just laugh. The audacity of some people to say the wrong thing never ceases to amaze me.

Shelley said...

A little inner chuckle as an adoptive mother... I get it!! We get all of those too.

The big one here...
"Are they brothers?"

The first time we were asked that my husband said, "yes" and looked at the person like they were crazy because he didn't understand that a complete stranger felt the need to find out if our children are biologically related (which they aren't) or not.

Oh... or here's one. One time someone said to me, "Where did ya get 'em" I thought he was asking about the snacks we were eating so I directed him to the snack bar. Nope... he was asking about my son.

My friend that has adopted from Ethopia is often asked, "Where are they from?" She always responds, "Our family lives in Burnsville". I think it's clever. :)

Deborah said...

"You're looking at them"!


Katharine said...

You are going to write a book, right? Seriously, I've made coffee and scheduled time to read these last few insallments of the story, and it's not just because it's a "good story" Between the lines there are woven glimpses of God, and it is good...

Brian Miller said...

T was adopted...and she has never thought to even look for her real parents...the real ones raised her...

Not So Simply Single said...

Good, good, actually GREAT answers to those idiots. Seriously. Don't people need a LIFE? And I don't mean YOURS?

Listen Saint Marla, adopting or not, kids are kids. I adopted my cats, and they are lovely. I adopted a daughter, she is lovely. If I were to birth them, whose to say they would turn out okay? My sister is a self-centered bitch, and we have the same parents, the same blood. Mother has been heart broken over it for years. It has torn our family up, and so there you have it.

I know many adopted kids that LOVE their parents. I know many real blood kids that HATE their parents. There are certainly NO GUARANTEES in life, are there?

My girlfriend here, gave up her son for adoption about thirty years ago. She looked for him for many years and found the doors to be shut. Just a few months ago he contacted her, and they are forging a new and fabulous relationship. She met him for the first time at Christmas, and she is leaving in March to go and spend a month with him!

Miracles happen people!


(should I get off the soap box now? Lordy!) said...

You're not a smart alec, Marla. You tell it like it is and attempt to educate the rude and ignorant. That people don't think twice about saying those things in front of the kids - unbelievable. I like that you follow up with questioning their need to know.

Teresa - in the Middle Side of Life said...

I love you, too!

i think I must have missed one of the stories. four girls? i only counted three. who did i miss and where can i find her story?


Glen said...

all perfect answers to the dumb schmuck ignorant questions that people like me would wonder...


can I just argue one point. Your boys are indeed lucky that they were born into a strong loving and capable family. Your girls were not born into that same situation, or at least if they were their luck did not last. I do not know or deserve to know the reason why they came to be in the adoption system, for sure there are millions of possible reasons, but from that point on they were extremely lucky to find you. There are an awful lot of children in that system that will never be so lucky.

I think you have to accept that sometimes us blundering idiots actually don't mean to be nasty

Dawn said...

Marla, you are just the greatest thing ever.

I seriously do not get people sometimes. I love your responses to those questions.

J.J. in L.A. said...

When my sis told mom that her (new) hubby had fertility issues, mom said, "Then why did you marry him?"

Stupidest question EVER!

They adopted their son 7 years later, and had a daughter with IVF 3 years after that.

In my case, my mom was told (in front of me), "It was soooo nice of you to adopt a disabled child." Mom replied, "She's not adopted OR disabled, but thank you for caring."

Go mom!

Nancy C said...

Wow. The magnitude of insane questions blows my mind. "Something wrong with them?" That's just messed up.

How's that for a witty comment? I'm still picking my jaw up.


Andrea said...


It's funny - I think people try to address their own fears with those questions - and end up coming off as rude and nosy in the process. Or maybe they just are rude and nosy LOL. I love your responses. I'm going to share your blog on my FB page. Your writing touches my heart, and I think it will touch others as well. Love you - Andrea

Kym said...

I can only say reading this made me laugh out loud. As an adopted child, I have heard it all, even from friends. I'm so happy to hear others with my sentiments.

To give you all another laugh, my favorite insult has been the bumper sticker I saw declaring, "Adoptive children are created by the devil. End adoption!"

It takes all kinds!

Marla said...

Kym ~ Holy Schmoly! That would have been a car worth rear-ending. :-)

Lily Robinson said...

Sorry, but I do think they were lucky. I think your boys were lucky, too. I think any child that is blessed enough to grow up in a home filled with love and trust in God is very lucky!

Mrs. Tuna said...

I have loved reading these, I come from a big adopted family too.

Joanna Jenkins said...

YOU ROCK. I'd just bitch slap the people asking those stupid questions :-)
xo jj

TechnoBabe said...

Some people don't know how ignorant they can be. The first question is just silly. People who ask questions like that need to learn to think before they speak.
The people who say they couldn't adopt because the child would not be their blood don't deserve a child anyway. Their ego would be in the way of good parenting.
What you write in this post is not being a smart alec. It is just smart.

Okie Book Woman said...

LOVE your answers! I'm always amazed by the ignorance and rudeness of some people. This is a wonderful post.

Kelley said...

This was really, really, really good and I needed to read it. I have a friend that put up her son for adoption when she was 18. She is now over 30 and is not able to have any biological children. Ironically, she is now looking to adopt. Her adoptions keep falling through. I just love that your honesty and the answers you gave. You need Facebook and Twitter buttons to blast this all over the Internet! Lots of people should read it...