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I have a daughter who looks nothing like me. Her features are those
of a little girl with a native bloodline, and while I don't really know my own
lineage, it's pretty clear from looking at us that I don't share her heritage.
As a result, most people assume upon encountering us that she is adopted.
It doesn't really bother me. I've come to expect the comments
and questions. I mean, sure, it's totally possible
that she could be my biological child—I could simply have a partner who is
native. But she's not, and I don't, so why get my panties in a bunch when
people assume the truth?
Still, there are some comments that make me uncomfortable, especially those framed in the context of what a "great thing" I did by
choosing adoption. Adopting her has been the best thing to ever happen to me.
Being her mommy has been the most amazing blessing I have ever received. So
yeah, it feels awkward when someone tries to praise me for doing something I
would do again a thousand times over.
We were at my little girl's gymnastics class a few weeks ago when
another mother came up to me and, with admiration in her eyes, said, "I just
want you to know how amazing I think it is that you adopted your daughter. If
more people were like you, there wouldn't be so many kids who need homes."
It makes me really uncomfortable to be framed as any kind of hero ... the reality is I'm the lucky one.
I didn't really know how to respond. For one, while I have my
foster care license, my daughter was not adopted through foster care. Ours was
a completely private adoption, the result of a chance encounter where her other
mother specifically asked me to take her. I was in the hospital room the day
she was born, and she was mine from that moment forward. She was a happy,
healthy, beautiful infant, the kind of baby thousands of adoptive couples are
desperate for. Whether I took her or not, she was never at risk of not having a
But even beyond that, it makes me really uncomfortable to be framed
as any kind of hero in the milieu of our family. I'm
just a mom, like every other mom, and the reality is I'm the lucky one. I truly believed for a long time that I would
never get to be a parent, and then just like that, I was offered the chance to
a be a mother without having to really do anything at all to make that
opportunity fall into my lap. So many
couples wait years to adopt and are never given the opportunity to adopt an
infant. I didn't do anything heroic; I just leapt at a chance my heart had long
been yearning for.
Even beyond that, as an infertility
sufferer, I really dislike the suggestion that more people should "just
adopt." Adoption isn't for everyone, and the comment that "if more
people were like you" makes it seem like more people should be adopting. The reality is, there are a lot of
complicated pieces to adoption that not everyone is able or willing to take on.
And that's OK! Knowing that, and respecting your own boundaries, is healthy.
Even for me, there was a lot I had to resolve regarding my own feelings
surrounding infertility before I was able to open myself up to the idea of
adoption. It certainly didn't happen overnight, and not everyone who has dealt
with infertility will get to that place nor should they have to. Adoption is
complicated. It's OK to acknowledge that. So I don't like the implication
that adoption is somehow the superior path because it's not for everyone. It
was the right path for me, but that doesn't mean it should be for others.
Unfortunately, in the moment, I had no
idea how to get that all across. I felt like I should correct this other
mother, but how? How do you explain the intricacies of adoption in what is
otherwise just a passing conversation? How do you make that other person
understand that there is actually something slightly offensive about suggesting
that you might be some sort of savior for taking your child, when in reality,
you feel like it was your child who saved you?
Instead of saying anything, I simply
nodded my head and muttered a "thank you." Paralyzed by my own discomfort, and
not wanting to hurt this woman whose intentions I knew were sincere.
But if I had it to do over again, I
might try to find the words to somehow say that having adopted doesn't make me
special. It's not something worthy of praise. It's just the way I became a
mother. The way my little girl was brought into my life.
I'm no hero for being her mom. I'm just ... a mom.