Thursday, November 17, 2011

She's Adopted...?

That's what I tell people.  Because it's true.  But it only really comes up with strangers in the following way, and I never can resist toying with them, just a little bit.  Here's how it goes:

Stranger: Awww!  Cute baby!  How old is she?

Me: She's _____ months. 

Stranger: Oh, my GOSH!  You had a baby ____ months ago?!  I did NOT look like THAT after I had my baby. You look great!  How did you do it?

Me: You want to know my weight loss secret?

Stranger: (Leaning closer, thrilled to have found the secret sure to engender skinniness, fortune, and fame.) Yes!

Me: She's adopted.

Stranger: (Confused, deflated, dreams of easy thinness gone, maybe just a little amused.) Oh. 

Of course those opportunities are rapidly diminishing.  When Eden is a year old, no one will be surprised to see me looking like I've never been pregnant.  So I'll enjoy the joke while it lasts.  Evil of me, right?  Why do I make my little joke at the expense of some nice stranger?  I could just say, "Thank you," and spare the complimentary individual.  For one thing, that just feels even meaner.  Like it's the equivalent of affirming, "Yes, that's because I'm better than you.  In fact, you're worthless. Anyone worth their salt looks like they never had a baby immediately after having a baby." (Guarantee I would not look any less beach-ballesque than the next postpartum lady if ever I was postpartum, pardon the offense.) So I feel pressured to rescue the stranger's self-esteem by explaining Eden's origin.  I guess I also do it out of revenge for making me choose between lying and telling the truth.  Apparently I have some form of mild resentment that a stranger can make me say that Eden is adopted.  I hate labeling her that way.  "Adopted" isn't an appropriate adjective for describing a person; it's the past tense verb for how some babies come to their families.  You know, basically equivalent to the word "conceived," and we don't call people that (Example: Johnny, the conceived kid, is really hyperactive.").   But lest you get the wrong idea, I'm not at all embarrassed about how Eden joined our family.  It isn't that.  I think adoption is a beautiful miracle and I WANT to share our story.  Just not in the checkout line.  I guess it's that people who birth their children never have to explain to a perfect stranger how that happened.  There is no "Cute baby!  Oh, thanks, I conceived her myself.  Let me tell you all about it..." conversation. (And I think we can all be thankful for that!)

Here's the other part...I often completely forget (but for these little reminders when buying milk) that Eden didn't come from the swirling spirals of my DNA.  Her birthmom was so awesome to let us go with her to every doctor's appointment and to be there when Eden was born, that it kind of just feels like WE were pregnant.  And certainly when Eden wakes up in two hours, all smiles and giggles to see me, I won't be thinking anything along the lines of "You sure are cute for an adopted kid!"  Nope.  She's just OURS.  And I love her completely.

What kinds of frustrating questions do strangers ask you about your kids (or about not having kids yet)?  Do you ever play jokes on them in response?