I think everyone knows and understands that some folks come into your life for a lifetime and others only for a season. I’ve found that during my times of extraordinary personal growth, I either leave some seasonal folks behind or we just drift apart. I’d have to say that adoption and dissertation writing represent periods of crazy growth.
For the most part, I have had a solid core of support from friends and family during this journey. It has not always been easy; there have been moments that have reduced me to tears because we are all navigating new terrain. The dissertation journey has not been quite as rocky since I’ve been in school for several years; we’ve all got a rhythm with the school thing. Most of the challenging moments have stemmed from my adoption journey, which falls into a weird, abstract blind spot for many people. People don’t seem to just say “congrats” like they would to pregnant women. I’m adopting an older child, and since there’s no pregnancy, the whole thing can be more conceptual for lots of folks (thank God no one is rubbing my belly). I get it, but “congrats” would still be a nice response sometimes.
What has been challenging is when my disclosure that I am adopting an older child is met with:
Are you sure about an older kid? They are so much trouble.
You know you could/should reconsider having your own child.
Have you thought about surrogacy?
What about infant adoption?
Are you infertile?
Why have you given up hope?
What the what??? Yeah. All up in my grill. Other deeply personal rationalizations I have about my life, hey, you want to hear about those too? Oh let me get out my calendar so we can discuss my last menses while we’re at it.
Some of these questions are well-intended. Some are just out of genuine concern, others are just damn nosey. But, I know they aren’t malicious. One person even suggested that my plans to not have bio kids was most unfortunate because I’m smart and cute and should pass those genes on to my own kid (there’s that pesky “own” distinction again). Um, ok. Some people strangely assume that my decision making is based on nothing, just nothing and they attempt to school me on the challenges of adoption, that I should avoid older child adoption or even make the choice to be childless. One person attempted this kind of school session during a recent happy hour. I’m sad to report that she was injured as I was raising my “You’d better stay in your lane, crazy chick” shield.
Life at the moment is pretty complicated. I’m waiting for the elusive Institutional Review Board approval for my dissertation study. The adoption process is involving conference call on top of conference call, and it also requires a level of vulnerability that I’ve never before experienced. The day job is demanding. The bills have to be paid; dry cleaning picked up and dropped off, and wait–what the devil is that growing on the broccoli in the fridge? It is crazy busy; there’s a lot to do and in the words of Michelle Obama, the one thing I don’t do well is answer stupid questions about my rationale to become a parent through adoption or to parent an older adoptive kid. As if I owe anyone an explanation anyway!
The adoption process reminds me to be thoughtful about the company I keep. I’ve got a lot going on, and I don’t have time for a bunch of silly foolishness. I am viewing life through a prism of impending parenthood, and frankly I’m fanatically consumed with protecting the health and well-being of my Hope Kid. Hope Kid has already been through enough crap; Hope Kid doesn’t need folks around who doubt my reasoning for wanting him/her or second guessing why I want to be a parent at all.
I know that my nearest and dearest will still ask some uncomfortable questions and not everyone will agree with the decisions I am making and will make. That’s cool, it’s even allowed. But Team AdoptiveBlackMom needs supportive folks. It’s ok, to disagree with me, but I need folks around me who will help me be the best parent I can be and who won’t waste time with a bunch of crazy mess about whether I should be a parent at all or how I should go about achieving that goal. Totally baffled and disturbed by this life choice to the point where your mouth is burning, just burning to question me? That’s cool, but please see yourself to the door, our season on this life journey has come to a close. I won’t allow that conflict to be one of my 99 problems.
Oh you think it’s bad now? I haven’t even met Hope Kid yet! Just know that when I do, my inner Momma Bear will be epic! Epic, I tell you!