Tuesday, July 9, 2013

No, She Is Not Adopted!

 is my daughter. 
I'm sure that you will notice a couple of things about her; she is absolutely, stunningly gorgeous, for one.  She's a bit sassy, for two.  But there's more that I'm sure you see.  Then we pull the camera back. 
 the Chinese kid with the canes or they're going to eat my brains. It happens all of the time, among small children and adults alike. If you have reached your majority and you engage in this action around my daughter, be prepared to be called out on it. I'll be friendly, but I will address you. I will likely say something like, "Can I help you?" or "Are there any questions I can answer for you?" I try to be gentle because every now and then the ogler is someone who has a younger child with mobility issues, and they are lost and scared and trying to work up the courage to ask some questions or to glean some hope. And I want to help those people. But, curiosity or knowledge-seeking, simply staring has to stop. E feels it. She does not like it.
Sadly, all too often what follows though is, "hey, what happened to her legs?"  I'm sorry, but what business is it of yours? I don't ask you, Mr. Morbidly Obese Man about your eating habits or thyroid function. I don't ask you, Mrs. Unfortunate Hairy Moles about your protuberances. Please, show us the same respect. She is not contagious. The deformities with which she was born and the atrocities to which she was subjected after were inhumane and horrific. And they are HER stories to tell or not tell. She is obviously well cared for. She is getting along just fine. Let's leave it at that.
You know, though, that's the most benign of all of the questions we are asked. Slightly more annoying is, "Is that your REAL daughter?" Now, we all know what they mean. Still, it's irritating. We have found a way to deal with this with good-hearted albeit snarky humor. E just rolls her eyes. I cannot wait for the day when I can teach her to act surprised and horrified, I can just picture her clinging to me crying. “What do they mean, Mommy?” Until then, I try to come up with some sort of witty response. "No, she's metaphorical," I said once. "Who? Which one? " I asked another time, feigning ignorance. Once, an older woman asked me if all of my children were "real." "No," I said, pointing to the baby who bears my eyes and my curls, "That one is a robot." Still, it's a horrible thing to be asked. So, once and for all, let me clarify; this is my daughter. She is mine. She shares behaviors, mannerisms, and even some physical traits. I have loved and raised her as best as I have been able. She loves me and I her. That is as real as it gets. End of story.
Do you know what the worse question is, though? You may be surprised. The worst is the seemingly simple question, "Is she adopted?" Listen, you were born, once, and that is most likely how you came to be in the custody of your parents. It was a singular event, not a state of being. When you come into a room do people yell,' Hey, Such and Such is crowning?" No, because it is over. It is how you came to be, it's not who you are. It's the same for my daughter. Yes, I will try to preserve the language and culture of the country in which she was born and where she spent the first six years of her life. She doesn't want it now, but she will someday. And I try to be mindful of the unique baggage that comes from having been adopted, to reminded and reassure her of how loved she is and that we are hers forever. But she IS not adopted. She WAS adopted.  It was a two year labor (think of that and shudder) that, as soon as she hit the States, was over. It was a singular event. That's why, like many adoptive families, we celebrate "Gotcha Day” on the date that we took physical custody. We have cake, because who doesn't love another reason to have cake, and we celebrate the anniversary of the day that she WAS adopted. But short of that very private celebration, it needs to be allowed to be over. People need to allow it to be forgotten. She doesn't need to be reminded all of the time that she is "different." She needs to be allowed to feel "normal," and to us she is, as normal as any of us get, anyway. This normalcy is important to her. Besides, it's HOW she came to us; it's not WHO she is, anyway. Besides, for Pete's sake, you kinda know the answer anyway.

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