My Family

My Family
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Sunday, January 1, 2012

Dude, I'm not joking - just not funny

A facebook friend recently posted this photo and caption.  I was the first to comment and had to say that as an adoptive mom I was really having a hard time finding the humor in this.  I also had to add that I do pride myself on my awesome sense of humor.  However, I was not able to find the humor in this picture and yes, I do get that these children are clearly twins.

The responses after mine generally took me to task for not lightening up.  Several of those who took me to task were themselves adults who had been adopted.  One person in particular was very aggressive towards me and made several false assumptions as to what type of parent I am.  I also asked for a reality check with several dear friends who are also adoptive parents.  Their conclusion was also that this was just not funny.

One woman's facebook comment was that adoption was never a stigma in her family and implied I'm raising my kids with a victim's mentality.  Ironically this caption is simply a propagation of the stigma of adoption - that somehow you are a lesser family member because you are adopted.

There are many ways to look at the supportive responses particularly from the adoptive adults.  From appearances neither of these adults likely were immediately recognized by others as adopted.  They were caucasian and likely their adoptive parents were caucasian as well.  It is a much different experience to go through life having to explain that you are adopted every time someone meets your family.  Having adopted both caucasian and other race children I've experienced this personally as well.

Two experiences stick out in my mind.  Kelsey was a blue eyed blond infant when we adopted her.  I took her along with our 2 biological brown eyed sons to a shoe store.  The retailer looked at my sons and then at her and asked me where she got her blue eyes.  Not wishing to get into a big discussion - trying to get in and out quickly with an infant, toddler and very busy 4 yr. old - I replied, "My mother had blue eyes."  This was a truthful statement, but of course not entirely true.  However, I did not have to explain to a complete stranger about my daughter's adoption.  This is not a choice I can make with my youngest children.

Just about 2 years ago my daughter Melissa and I were wedding dress shopping.  Melissa was adopted from South Korea and we entered the bridal store together sitting side by side at the registry desk.  They asked Melissa about when the wedding was etc.  After filling in her information they looked at me and said, "And you are?"  Maybe they really never assume the mother-type person sitting next to the young bride is, in fact,  the mother of the bride.  However, I'm likely to think if we were of the same race that is exactly the assumption that would be made.

I remember my mother talking about her friend who had two adopted daughters and how wonderful it was that they were able to match their physical characteristics so people wouldn't know they were adopted.  Clearly, the message was that it was not something you'd want to explain to people nor necessarily want them to know.  You didn't want the stigma of adoption to follow them.

It's still difficult for me to understand why these two adults were so adamantly defending the posting of this offensively captioned picture.  It is my job to promote the positive perception of adoption as an adoptive mother.  As a Christian, I also take adoption very seriously.  We believe, as Christians,  that we are adopted by God into His family and there is no greater gift than that.

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