10.19.2009

Why Don't People Get It?

Since being home with our son for almost 2 months now, we have had mostly positive comments from people when we are out. A few times I've had to nicely rephrase people's questions, which is fine, and will probably continue for the rest of our lives. For example, "Are you going to have your own kids?" to which I nicely rephrase as, "If you mean biological children, then yes, we would like to have some biological children as well as adopt again." Usually once I say that, they understand how their phrasing "your own kids" would sound to an adopted child.

But, two specific issues recently have really floored me. The first was a stranger, some lady I didn't even know. She came up to me and asked where he was from. I smiled and said, "He was born in Ethiopia." She said, "His skin is so beautiful." I said, "Yes, it is!" To which this lady said, "Because you know, some of them are really dark." What? Did she actually just say that? I can't imagine the look of shock and disgust that was on my face. I calmly said, "Actually, I have never seen an ugly Ethiopian." To which she said, "Oh, well I didn't mean they were ugly." And I said, "well, they are actually some of the most beautiful people I have ever seen." Then I gathered up my son and walked away. Are you serious? What if Mekonen was old enough to understand that? It still gets me fired up just thinking about it.

This issue has happened more than once since being home, and specifically a few times in the last couple of weeks. People come up to me and comment about the possible love difference a mom would have for an adopted child, and as they say, "her own child." I hate this conversation. I have been in love with my son before I even set my eyes on him. And, since seeing his face, and touching his skin to mine, I have a fierce love for him that no one can tell me is any different than if I carried him in my womb and gave birth to him myself. Even after trying to explain this to people, I have them still arguing with me and saying I wouldn't know because I have no "kids of my own." I just want to start ridiculously questioning their love for their children. One lady said, "Well, it's good that you adopted first because then you have nothing to compare it to." And another lady told me it wasn't possible to love an adopted child as much as "one of your own" because you didn't give birth to him and so are missing the surge or hormones when you deliver that help you love your baby. What? Are you kidding me? Where do people come up with this stuff?

No one, absolutely no one, can tell me I don't love my son as I would if he shared my genetics. This little guy has changed my life in a way I cannot even put into words. I have never experienced a love like this. My heart is so full of love for him I sometimes wonder if I can fit one more ounce in there without it bursting. So if you want to make me really angry and make my mommy claws come flying out, question the kind of love I have for my son and try and tell me that when a biological child comes along, I will love them more. It's not even possible.

Beyond this, it does not make sense for Christians to make these sort of comments (some of these comments have come from Christians). Jesus said that the greatest love is displayed when a friend sacrifices his life for another friend. This is love motivated by a love that is not biologically connected. Jesus said that this is the greatest love displayed! This has nothing to do with blood connection. For Christians, the statement "blood is thicker than water" referring to bio family over all others is actually opposed to the Gospel. Furthermore, a husband and wife can/should have a riduculously deep connection, and they SHOULD NOT be related by blood because that's disgusting and illegal. To assume that blood connection/child-birth creates a superior connection at best negates Jesus on the cross and at worst negates a supposed "Christian's" understanding of the cross.

17 comments:

krissy said...

I'm so sorry for the comments. I saw something by John Piper (an pastor who adopted his sweet daughter) on YOUTUBE called, "Adoption is greater than the Universe" it really spoke to some of what you were saying at the end of this blog... I didn't know if it would bless you or not! I really touched me!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZgNXQ2CazUg

Beanie said...

Thank you. I needed to hear that. I am so proud of the way your family is living. Sola Deo Gloria.

Eryn said...

well said!

Jennifer Kramer said...

I stumbled on your blog through the Ethiopian Adoption Blog site..I am waiting to bring my first child home from ET hopefully here in the next few weeks. My court date is next week. I have thought a lot about my response to people who say these things, as for the love issue, and I am not sure how to convince people that love is not biologically related at all. Biology does not make you a mom or a dad to a child.

Pastoor Family said...

So sad to hear, Rachael..... People can be so unthinking and insensitive sometimes. I have been thinking a lot about this lately and wondering if I'm truly prepared for this. As you know, we have 6 children-all bio, all white-our little one is eventually going to look around and see that she does not look the same as her family. I know that I need to be better prepared because there will be issues. Maybe we should gather up all the comments that everyone has gotten from people and also from the children themselves and make a book. I could study it and then I will be ready for whatever might come my way! =) You did a good job responding to those comments, but you are right, if Mekonen was older it would have hit him pretty hard! =(

Love looking at all of his pictures, by the way.... absolutely adorable!!

*Hugs*
Wendy

Daniel and Danielle said...

oh rachel i am so sorry some people just do not get it no matter what! it is frustrating but just try to focus on the people that support you and your family! i hate these comments and sometimes i just want to smack them in the face and say excuse me!

Krysta said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Krysta said...

Oh, man. I seriously hate these types of comments. I was directed to your blog through a mutual friend (Marcia Yamarino). We are in the process of becoming foster parents (and eventually adoptive parents). I have gotten similar comments about skin color (we will likely have non-white kids) and the same comments about not being able to love a foster/adopted child as your “own.” Just as bad are the comments stating that “we can’t possible understand” until we have biological children. I wonder if I will ever be seen as a legitimate mother in the eyes of these people unless I birth a child. I am so sorry you are getting these comments.

And, I agree, they are 100 times worse when you are getting them from Christians. The Bible is so clear about God’s heart for the orphan. How can they miss this? I wish I could communicate the deep love God has put on my heart for my children who I do not yet know.

Know there are those of us who understand and that you are not alone. God has given us an incredible opportunity to educate those around us and, hopefully, inspire others to care for orphans through our example. This is what I keep telling myself on the days when the only feedback I’m getting from people seems negative.

And, by the way, your little guy is adorable.

Anonymous said...

We've had the same skin color comment and we haven't even brought our baby home yet. We were showing off our referral pics at a family reunion. Some lady looked at our daughter and said that she was really pretty and remarked about how light her skin was (its not light at all, I'd say its a medium brown)and then laughed and said, "I bet you're glad for that!" And I sarcastically thought, yes, when we signed up to adopt from Ethiopia we prayed every night for a white baby. All I could sputter out was that I was actually hoping she'd be darker.

And for people who question your love for your kids, I think it's just their insecurity or excuse for not having adopted. They obviously feel threatened by a mother who loves her kids as much as you. Perhaps they don't love their kids as much as you do yours?

We 'R McGee said...

I am fascinated by the surge of hormones theory of love! Does that mean if I had birthed him I would love my husband more? Or better yet, that the surge of hormones after birth causes you to fall in love with whatever you see?
I guess all adoptive parents learn grace, either the first time or the hundredth.

Angela said...

Isn't sad that people actually think like that!! I used to get the "How can you bond with your baby because are not breastfeeding?" Hello! Did you just say that to me. My quick answer back was "I dont bond with my boobs"!
We have received comments like "Oh your lucky your son looks like you, a shame they couldn't match your daughter better" Huhhh????
Try not to let it bother you...I know its hard....

Amber said...

ugh... people. The things they come up with sometimes. Sorry you had to experience that. You handled it very well. Thanks for sharing as I know others who experience similar things and I know someday I will too. It is nice to be able to have this blog community so we can share our experiences (both good and bad) with each other so we know we are not alone.

Rebekah Zenn said...

I love your comment about your "mommy claws!" Amen! And, if adoption is "second rate" to biological children, what do Christians have to say about us being adopted into the kingdom of Christ??? You're right- the fact that some people just don't get it is stupid.

The Lowerys said...

Being a mom of two beautiful adopted boys for almost 3 years, I have learned one thing: judgements of my family will not end. I don't think there is a magical way to answer these comments or a way to educate the huge population of the ignorant. These kind of comments will not end.

With that depressing thougt in mind, tough skin is what I pray for for myself everyday, and also for my boys. I'm a big girl, and I try to let it wash off my back. I guess I'm confident enough in my decision to have my family the way it is. My kids aren't old enough to understand these comments yet, but that is soon to end. I want them to realize no matter what others say, they are priceless to me and God. I think it's all about what you display to them at home that will help them deal with this. They are going to have to deal with racism in their life too, so a thick skin and a self-confidence built in them will go a long way. I'm sure that is the atmosphere that you are providing, so just be confident in yourself and your family. When someone says something stupid or hurtful, give Mekonen a kiss and say in a sweet voice, "I'm sorry you feel that way, but I don't." That seems to be the best response I've come up with.

Anonymous said...

As the Mom of a child of color, the thing I find most painful about these comments is how other family members explain them away or attempt to "revise" the incident when re-telling it later on.

Being from a certain part of the country, or being of a certain age gives no one the right to make inappropriate or racist comments. I am honestly less offended by the person making the comments than I am by those who deny how much they hurt and how sinful they are. Multiple times I have had extended family make absurd comments or actions about our minority child, and then have had other family members explain it away or act as though I misunderstood or did not hear it appropriately. ie--- making it my problem instead of theirs.

It's my kid, I heard, and so did he.

It is times like that in which I have to thank God for giving me the privilege to be able to advocate for children of color through my own family.

doddyj said...

wow Rachael. the kind of prejudice that permeates our society is SO sad. keep fighting, because it does help - even if the ignorant people walk away acting like they know better. if someone tells you that you don't know what "true" love feels like because you haven't had a biological child, tell them then obviously they don't understand what true love feels like because they haven't adopted.

this issue makes me so heated. we'll pray for you, that your responses are out of love and not just anger.

Nala (Alana) said...

I totally understand. It makes my blood boil just reading those things. Grace upon grace we need for people!
I'm excited to get to know you through blogs.