An Awkward Conversation by Margaret Hart

You know those conversations you have every now and again where someone says something that just floors you? Where you just can’t believe they said it? Where, afterward, you feel really awkward and you aren’t sure what to say? I had one of those conversations this week, and I haven’t been able to let it go.

I was talking with a neighbor when we were both picking up our kids from an after-school activity. She started telling me a story she thought was funny about my son. She started by saying, “I really had to laugh.” That got my attention right away. My son has a terrific sense of humor beyond his young nine years, and has a reputation for making people laugh. So I waited with delight to hear what she was going to tell me.

She began by telling me that my son had said something really sweet when he was at her house, when he and her daughter were playing. It made her ask him, “Can I adopt you?” I smiled. I know my son has good manners and is a kind person, so I was not surprised he had said something that I would be proud of, and which would inspire another mom to make such an endearing comment.

Then she said that my son answered her in a very matter of fact sort of way: “No, I’m already adopted.” he told her. We both had a little chuckle, as she knows he is adopted. His response made me smile big and wide. We adopted him a birth and he’s always know his adoption story and is very secure and comfortable with it.

Just as I was feeling proud and loved, my neighbor dropped the other shoe: “Oh, so you know you are adopted?” she said she asked him. “Yes, my mom told me when I was two,” she said my son replied. “So, you are okay with that?” she told me she asked him.

Cringe. Cringe. Cringe. Awkward moment. Awkward moment. If there was a video recording of my reaction, I’m sure I would have looked like the proverbial deer in headlights. (My son has actually known he was adopted since day 1, but I guess his earliest memories of talking about it are from when he was two years old. But I digress.)

What kind of person living in the modern world, asks an adopted child if they are “okay with being adopted?” I mean, c’mon! My son apparently thought nothing of it. And told her, “Yes, I’m okay with it.”

Of course he is okay with being adopted! Why wouldn’t he be “okay” with being adopted? There is nothing wrong with being adopted. Listen up all you ignorant people out there. And try to get this though your thick heads. Adoption is beautiful. Adoption is wonderful. Adoption is a blessing. As is the birth of any child.

Should I have asked her if her if she thinks her daughter is “okay with being born to you?” I mean, really!!

Sorry. Maybe I’m overreacting a little. But I just do not understand how someone could ask a child that question. In my book, being adopted is just another way of creating a family. It’s no big deal.  I am not, in any way, discounting the joy, the blessing, and the wonderful gift of adoption that so many people are lucky enough to receive. Nor the difficulty, the waiting, the emotional uncertainty, and the challenges that many adoptive families often experience.

But what I mean is, why do some people still think of adoption as some poor child being saved from some horrific life? Or they feel sorry for the child because they are adopted. What does this negative view of adoption, with some people,  come from? I just don’t get it. When I told my husband about the exchange, he asked, “What did you say?” “I didn’t say anything,” I told him. It happened so fast. I was just stunned. It really caught me off guard. No one has ever asked my son that question. (That I know of.) Nor has anyone ever asked me if I am okay with having an adopted child. If they did, I think I might punch them in the nose.

If we had been talking one-on-one, in a private space, I might have thought to say something, but then again, maybe not. What could I have said? I was so stunned. I was just processing.

My husband and I talked more. We decided, based on what we know of our neighbor, that she is just a little bit ignorant about what is acceptable to say and what is not – about a great many things, in fact. We’ve had some interesting conversations in the past.

So now that I have vented, I’m trying not to dwell on it, and instead to just chalk it up to an awkward conversation.  I’d love to know what you think.

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