When we first started out homestudy, one of the ten thousand eight hundred and forty two documents we had to read gave some of the most indispensable advice we've received yet. It basically said, "Have a snappy comeback ready for some of the questions people will have about your adoption." It's crazy what people will say/ask. I guess it's a lot like those insensitive statements that people make when you're pregnant. You know, the ones like, "are you sure there aren't two in there?" or "Your nose is HUGE!" or my personal favorite "I knew you were pregnant before you told anyone because your hips started spreading out." (that one was from a co-worker when I was preggers with Clayton).
Let me preface by saying, we know a lot of people think we are crazy for adopting. We also know that they think we are especially crazy for adopting a child with special needs. We are totally fine with that. People thought Noah was crazy when he followed God's command to build an ark. We feel like we have received a command from God to adopt, so to us ignoring that call would be crazy to us. So I'm not upset or mad that people say insensitive things about our adoption, but I just want make sure that I use that as an opportunity to explain what we are doing and gently call attention to the more insensitive comments, especially the ones that may hurt Clayton or John Sergeant when they are old enough to overhear and understand.
Here are some of the comments we've encountered and my "snappy comebacks." I'm sure I'll be adding to this list as we get closer to our travel date and after we get back to the states. Feel free to comment and add your own!
Question: "Have you thought about that a child with DS will be your child for life?" (meaning they may not gain complete independence...this one is by far the most common we have received)
What I want to say: "Why no, we never thought of that. Thanks for sharing your insight. We went into this not knowing A THING about DS, so people like you really help educate us about what to expect." (Dripping with sarcasm)
Snappy Comeback: "All of my children will be my children for life."
Question: "Isn't it expensive? How are you going to pay for that? You know you could use the money to help a lot of kids instead of just one if you donated it to a charity."
What I want to say: "That's none of your business!!!"
Snappy Comeback: "The cost is minimal considering it will prevent a human being from being warehoused in a mental institution. We will pay for it with money. We have chosen to grow our family through adoption and we will continue to support charities of our choosing regardless of our decision to adopt."
Question: "Are you not able have more children of your own?"
What I want to say: "I'm assumming by "have" you mean produce biological children. If so: Are you serious?!? You really feel entitled to know that very personal detail of our lives? And since you are already so concerned about us "buying" a child, you should understand that if we pay that much money for him then he's ours." (again, dripping with sarcasm here)
Snappy Comeback: "John Sergeant IS our own child." And sometimes I'll add the following just to make them realize how inappropriate it is to ask ANYONE that question. "I was diagnosed with a chronic illness when Clayton was three months old. It makes it risky for us to have biological children. However, that did not play into our decision to adopt. It is something we have considered since we were dating. But since you asked about my reproductive health, I'm giving you an answer in the hopes that you will understand how personal and painful that question might be for some women to answer."
And since we're on the subject of reproductive health:
Question: "Well you know what's going to happen now that you are adopting. You will get pregnant."
What I want to say: "Do you know anything about how babies are made?"
Snappy Comeback: "We have taken measures to prevent that from happening. But if it did, it would be a blessing, just like every other child on this earth."
Question: "Have you looked into adopting from (insert country here) instead of Russia? My third cousin twice removed adopted from East Bumfuzzle and it was cheaper there."
What I want to say: "We aren't really discount shopping for a t.v. set. This is a human being."
Snappy Comeback: "We have already committed to a specific child and have carefully considered any cost associated with his adoption. There are a lot of factors that played into our decision besides the cost."
Question: "Aren't you concerned about Clayton (his reaction, not getting attention that he is used to, not having a "real" sibling, the list goes on and on...)?"
What I want to say: "Would you be asking this if I was pregnant??? I'm almost certain not."
Snappy Comeback: "John Sergeant will be his "real" sibling. We have thought a lot about how Clayton will adjust to a new sibling. We are preparing him for the addition of a child to our family. We expect that he will be a great big brother. We are trying to raise him to be compassionate and loving, and we feel like growing our family through adoption models those qualities."
This is a statement, but it's probably the one that bothers me most: "I'm glad you aren't adopting a (biracial, black, or other ethnicity besides Caucasian) child. Is that why you are adopting from Russia?"
What I want to say: "You are ignorant."
Answer: "There are children of all races in Russia, just like in the United States. Children are children, regardless of their race. It just so happens that we are adopting a Caucasian child from Russia."
We don't expect everyone to understand or respond positively to our decision to adopt. Most people have no clue about how much preparation, reading, research, etc. goes into the decision. I think when those people hear someone say, "We're adopting" they automatically think that it was because that person/family wanted to be like Angelina Jolie. Or that the person/family made the decision rashly without much consideration. Newsflash: that's ususally not the case at all. In fact, most adoptive parents are far more prepared in their decision to have children through adoption than parents who have children the "normal way" (to use the words of another insensitive person). In my opinion, going through all the preparation to adopt is a far more labor-intensive process than getting pregnant, no pun intended. (And I've done both). I have even had someone leave a negative comment on this blog about our decision to "adopt a retard so we can pay someone else to raise them." Not sure what was meant by the "paying someone else to raise them" part. I'm guessing daycare (which by the way John Sergeant will not be attending but even if he was...)? Again, nunya...as in "none of your business." I can't imagine what misery that person must live in to say something so evil and ignorant. However, I do hope that we will give gentle answers to such people and help them to see how a little sensitivity goes a long way in talking to adoptive parents and their children.