I’m a dog person, a pretty serious dog person. I’ve owned The Furry One since he was only 8 weeks old. He sleeps with me. He rides shot gun in the car without even having to call “Shot Gun!” He’s my little buddy. I love most other people’s dogs; and if I don’t it is usually because of the owner not the dog. I just really love dogs.
So, this morning when I stopped by the front desk of my condo building to ask a favor related to the adoption and thus disclosed that I was adopting, Mrs. G (the desk attendant) raised a shady eyebrow and asked, “Adopting a what?”
I smiled and replied, “A kid, you know. a small human, so I think that’s a ‘who’.” Mrs. G laughed and said, “I thought you were announcing you were getting another dog.” She then gushed with the nicest, sweetest, supportive comments and posed for a picture for the book I’m creating for Hope. She will see Mrs. G every weekday at the desk as she heads off to school, so I wanted to include her in the book.
And so it goes.
I know that I have written a bit about those individuals around me who have said things that are not really supportive of my choice to adopt or are just insensitive when yammering on about childbearing and child-rearing. I acknowledge that most of these comments come from a place of ignorance rather than malice, and I’m trying to learn how to manage my emotional reaction to that static.
The reality is that most of the people in my life are really, very supportive. A friend painted Hope’s room white so we can start decorating with a fresh canvas. I’ve had people offer airline points to help me visit Hope when the time comes. I’ve had friends offer to connect with me with friends and relatives who live in the area to help me secure information about school districts, places to stay, places to eat and supportive shoulders to lean on. I’ve got friends and family close by and far, far, far away who excitedly ask for updates. There’s a “tween shower” in the works to help welcome Hope to her new home. Even my HR director squealed with delight today when I asked about family leave options for the next year (I never got to take family leave with The Furry One in nearly 14 years!). A young cousin already has plans to talk hair and nails and all kinds of teenish activities with Hope.
So, although those folks who say less supportive things lance me deeply, I have this amazing group of people in my life who are committed to helping me be a successful mom. They help me patch the wounds up pretty quickly and carry on.
I don’t see too many people of color adopting. I have heard that in-family adoptions can be more common within families of color. As I started this process, I didn’t expect the lack of role models to affect me so deeply. It was only after a few months of running around filling out paperwork and taking my required training that I really started to feel lonely. I also started wondering how my extended family would react to this decision. I come from an amazing extended family, and they never gave me any reason to think they wouldn’t be supportive. But this was such a radical path for me, and for us, that I just didn’t know. This isn’t a path I had much exposure to growing up.
I’m grateful, and relieved, to know that my Hope and I will be loved, supported and even championed among my family and friends.
I’m also getting better about asking for what I need, thanks to a great therapist who nudges me a long when I occasionally get stuck. I recently asked my agency for some families who could be my cultural touchstones as I navigate this process. I wished I’d asked six months ago; my agency sent me over a list of folks right away.
So, in spite of those annoying folks who say silly things; my love and support cups are getting filled. I am blessed to have such wonderful people in my life.
Funny thing is…if I had just paid attention to how they treat me on issues related to The Furry One, I probably would have realized that the addition of a human child to my family wouldn’t have been a big deal.
Love me, love my kid and my dog.