Thursday, February 2, 2012

Just Once

Just once I'd like to see how it feels to be seen as just a family.
Not as "an adoptive family" or "the family that adopted Asian kids".  Just a plain old Mom, Dad and kids.

Now I am certainly NOT complaining about adoption, or how our family was formed or how it looks. 
No, not ever.  I'm just would be so different to go out in public and be seen as "just a family".  We never step out and have people say things like "what a cute family you are" unless the next thing is...."where were they born" or "Did you adopt?" 

We get the stares and curious questions - and the nosy ones as well.  We get the second glances and the whispers behind hands.  I've even encountered the stone cold stares or looks of disbelief in our family dynamic.  We get the, "are you sure this is your Mom" when I pick Simone up from an after school event or when she introduces me to a new pal she's made at the playground. 

We never get a simple, "How do you do, Simone's Mom" with that knowing look that says "of course she's your child, look at how much you look alike".

It has often occurred to me that when you look different from "the norm" you feel the eyes upon you more.  I remember when Simone was first home and how self conscious I was in new Mommy groups.  The quiet hush when we'd walk into story time. The exchanged looks that said, "I told you she had an adopted baby".  The questions I was never prepared to answer because I was too busy learning how to be a Mom.  Learning all sort of things about this new 9 month old baby I had so eagerly adopted and was not yet ready to share. 

And I always felt different, as if I was on the outside of this secret circle where all the talk was of stretch marks, breast feeding and epidurals.   All I had to offer was how the climate in China had been last spring and my concern about the toxins in the baby formula she had as an infant.   So I offered nothing.  I would just sit there and feel the difference of my new Mommy-hood experiences compared to theirs.   And somewhere in those moments I started to wonder how it would be to just once feel how they felt.

And yes it's true still.  Some days I do think that just once I'd like to be that "fly under the radar" family.  Just normal with nothing for anyone to comment on or to goggle over..

Just once I'd like to go to a social gathering without being asked:
"Oh are they from the Philippines?"       (Huh?)
"Are they 'real' brother & sister?"     (Duh!)
"How much did it cost and did you have to adopt?"  (Personal?)
my new favorite .....being told how I really should seek therapy for RAD since "I've heard it happens with adopted children all the time, and yours seem like they may have it".     (oh yes folks, I kid you not)

And of  course there's the famous   "We would have adopted too.  That is if we couldn't have 'kids of our own' first"  line I love so much.  (Thanks dear stranger for informing me that adoption was your second choice and that you somehow now feel that we have some special bond because you thought about it once and I did it.  Ya, makes perfect sense to me too)

Did I know this was probably going to happen when we started our adoptive journey through international waters?  Oh yes, in theory I sure did.  We took the classes, read the books, went to the seminars and we certainly did our share of talking to other adoptive parents.  We attended FCC and Agency events to be able to see firsthand how amazingly in-sync and in love these already formed adoptive families were.  We were fully prepared to be a family that looks different, at least in our in our minds.  But naively we really didn't think it would ever feel all that different, how could it when you are just a family.

Often when I'm out running around doing errands I have children with me who do not belong to or another of Simone's friends.  And most of those pals look more like me than Simone does.  So people often assume that child is mine and will comments about "your lovely daughter" or ask "how old is your daughter" etc... nodding toward said child who is nothing more to me than a tag-a-long.  And it has struck me, that this could have been my normal, this assumption of what my child should look like, how my family would appear if biology had been involved.  

And me, the one complaining here and now--- well I am always the first to correct those assumptions and point out just who my daughter actually is.  So then , why am sitting here saying "just once" and yet I'm the one that never allows the assumption, never let's that feeling of "just once" creep in?

Because  most of the time I really don't care, it's just part of us.  I'm one of the first to share my story with somebody who truly wants to know the beautiful parts (and not so sparkling points) of our journey.   If my friends have questions about us I openly share any of the details I can, because I love the story of us, the beauty of our adoptions.  And because I love my children in my heart and soul not because they were adopted, but because they are simply my children.  

But sometime I do feel exhausted by it and just want to be out of the house with my darling kiddos without being "Advocate for adoption lady" or "savior of orphans" or anything else.  Just Mom.

On the flip side, I get no greater joy than walking into a room and seeing my beautiful Asian babes busy at play.  I love seeing those special traits in each of them that makes them so uniquely them.   I love holding their hands walking through the store, library or park because they are mine all mine and I love them.  There is no better feeling than the pride I have in them and the amazing beings they are no matter if our DNA matches up or not.   I often look at them and totally forget that they are adopted.  Of course I do, for our love and our bond has nothing to do with how we look.  My love for them allows me my very own "just once" moments of the love and tenderness of motherhood.

And because of that love I  know without a shred of doubt that I would never change a thing about either of them or a moment of how we became a family. 

Not once.


Robin said...

Hey there-
I really enjoyed your post. I get what you are saying. It is funny, but having 3 boys and then Lauren I am usually so busy corral ing my kids that I don't notice the looks. I do have to say that I, like you, feel SO fortunate to have Lauren that I typically walk into a room with just her, see people noticing us and tend to think that I am so lucky to have her that other people must wish they could be me:)

Heather said...

Honestly, I just think of you as our good friends. Well, sometimes when we talk about you, we refer to you as Simone's mom. But we totally mean that in the just-mom sense. There are no categories involved.

I know your story but when I think of you guys, I don't think about your story. We love to be with you all because of your general awesomeness. And you are SO a cute family. (I have proof).

You are unique, but not because of the way your family came together. You are just cool people.

Jennifer, I have to tell you that you are one of the best moms I know. I totally want to be more like you, and I am glad our kids are friends so I can hang out with you and be inspired by your good influence.

Thanks for writing this, it totally made me think.

Anonymous said...

I want to thank you for your blog and the wonderful and insightful posts. Our family make up is one bio child and our son who is adopted from Taiwan. Our timeline is almost identical to your except move everything up one year. The similarities between your son and mine are astonishing. We get the looks and the crazy comments. Most days I just ignore them, but sometimes you do want to just be like everybody else. I believe that God knew we were all strong enough to handle this crazy journey and this crazy life with grace and dignity. Once again thank you for this blog and your wonderful posts. Keep your chin up and keep laughing

Julie and Dean said...

That's why I love that our families are so close. It makes me think maybe we are the norm. And most importantly our boys believe we are the norm :)
How great that my boys get to hang out with a family just like ours!

Dianne said...

I SO get what you are saying! I think that is one of the reasons why I really love our TN/Taiwan get-togethers. We are just a bunch of families hanging out together and not having to answer those intrusive questions.
I see you as "just Mom" and think that you are doing a great job at it!!

michelle said...

I totally get where you're coming from. You're a family no matter what everyone looks like. For me it's a little easier since we're Asian, so no one questions whether Lexie is our daughter. And in Hawaii, we have a melting pot of ethnicities, so we're used to multi-cultural families.

I love what a beautiful family you have and the fact that all of you are unique makes it even more special. Keep being the wonderful mommy that you are!!

Anonymous said...

Oh my friend, I just lost a very LONG comment ( that might be good news) LOL but wanted to write back in Anon.(that's all Blogger is allowing me to do right now!) Ugh!!! and give you a big virtual hug and help celebrate the beautiful, unique and wonderful family that you are!!!

I know just what you mean too......

Mama to Lauren & Tyler