Tuesday, July 15, 2008

The Attitude of Those Not In Our Shoes

I heard from someone this past week that they shared our adoption news with someone we both know, and they got a "rolling of the eyes" from this mutual acquaintance which was somewhat unexpected from the source...and somewhat hurtful that this information would be shared with us at all.

The response we have received from so many has been overall kind of negative, to the point where I feel little joy in telling anyone and have kept it more to myself...which also seems wrong as we will one day show up with more kids in tow and then have to explain why we didn't say much.

I really and truly don't want a big deal made about it, we are not looking for any sort of praise or anything. What I would like is to be able to feel comfortable sharing something that for us is one of the most exciting things to ever happen to us and a true miracle from start to finish without feeling weird or defensive about it, as if adding a couple of children to our family is almost something to be ashamed of rather than to be joyful about.

It is hard for me to understand why people feel free to say the following, all of which we have heard in recent months:

1) You ARE going to be done after this, aren't you?
2) Why would you want to do this? You won't be able to afford to do anything!
3) Mark my words, you will regret this.
4) Do you know what you are bringing into your home?
5) Those kids are totally damaged and will ruin your sons
6) Are you going to be one of THOSE families...the ones with 20 kids or something?
7) Can't quit while you are ahead?
8) You don't know what it is like to be poor, you'll end up living in a trailer
9) I just don't get it, aren't you happy with the boys you have?
10) Now you'll really have problems with all of them being siblings

and I could name a dozen more less than kind things that have been said. It amazes me as I would never in a million years say some of the things to others that have been said to me...I would consider it none of my business and not my place.

What people don't seem to understand at all is that this is not something we are doing for attention. It is not something we set out to do years ago, to have a large family. It is not a "mission" project. It is not even something we ever imagined for our lives.

We simply don't have a choice.

We have kids that are not home yet, kids I never dreamed of having 8 years ago when we first adopted Matthew and thought he would be our sole child. Kids whose hearts are waiting to be joined with ours. And through God's miracle and a financial blessing from another family our remaining children will one day be home.

It is hard to explain that to someone who is callous and not walked in our shoes. It is hard to express how every single night you have prayed for the welfare of a particular child or children whom you know are at risk and unloved. It is beyond painful to carry someone in your heart for years and be unable to offer them what they need the most.

But I hadn't realized how much harder this adoption would be in terms of the judgment of others over our decision to adopt one last time. I have been a bit blindsided by it, this thought process that others have that it is ok to voice the fact that they think we are idiots and that this "adoption stuff" is sheer lunacy. It is hurtful to hear that others are talking about you behind your back.

And why, I ask? Why is it so bad to want to love a child? Is there something inherently ridiculous about that? We aren't asking for your enthusiasm, but what we don't need is your condemnation. You can think we are nuts, you are entitled to your opinion (and many who know our family well might agree that we ARE nuts!), but you don't have to voice it.

With the notable exception of a few close friends and our church family who have proven to be quite supportive and understanding, we have had the negative on a regular basis. That is what makes the thoughtful moments more meaningful...like the other night when one of my closest friends called late in the evening after having seen Dominick in town and learning that things are moving faster than we expected. She just wanted to tell me that she and her husband were so happy and excited for us, and that single phone call meant so much. When your "pregnancy" is not obvious to the world, or when it is perceived as what should be "unwanted", knowing that someone doesn't think you are making a huge mistake is enormously helpful and lifts the spirit in ways she probably won't ever understand.

So we continue to move forward, preparing ourselves, arming ourselves, and sadly...protecting ourselves.

Most importantly though, we know we are walking with God in this, that we are absolutely moving on what we feel is His will. That may not always set well with others, but we know no other way that works for us.

The attitude of others who are not walking in our shoes just has to be overlooked, pushed aside. But on some days that is easier said than done.

12 comments:

Teresa said...

Hi Cindy,
welcome to the culture of death where at best children are looked at as a understandable accident. What is good is bad what is right is wrong, everything is topsy-turvy in a society governed by human will and not God's will. Those who do God's will and listen to his calling are bound to attract attention- good or bad.

It is amazing but after adopting our two boys and 4 months later finally conceiving, many "friends" said, "you're done now, right?", "3 is more than enough". I said with the best smile I could muster at that point, "well, will see if God is done, He is in charge after all."

A few years ago I walked into our children's theatre building around Christmas to show the kids the decorations. I was with a friend who had 3 children and I had 3. A man there felt it imperative to comment, "well, now we know where the population explosion is coming from.

Well I now have 4 and one on the way. I often hear, "You've got your hands full." To which I smile and say, "yep, better than empty." For I truely know what empty arms feel like. One woman was surprised and said, "that is the best response yet."

I am ready with my response to, "Don't you know what causes that?" -- Me: "No, I haven't figured that out yet, would you mind telling me?" ;-) Guess I'd better not use that one in front of the kids, somebody might take me seriously!

I am sure you'll come up with some thought provoking, inspiring and kind comment to your advisors who really need to get busy with their own lives. Smile, the joy in your heart will confound them.

Dee said...

Oh, people can be so unkind! I have been where you are. I know how it feels. When I adopted my daughter people I am close to and love dearly [like my brother] told me I was flat out CRAZY to adopt a 12 year old. She was actually 13 when I got her home. People at work I hardly knew stopped me in the hall to lecture me like an errant child. It was so upsetting to me.

I finally just started telling people what I truly believed - "God TOLD me to adopt this child. She IS my daughter." Of course a lot of people thought that confirmed that I am crazy but I just ignored them. She has proven them all wrong.

We have had challenges, as you know. ALL kids have challenges. No kid comes with a written guarantee - even birth children don't.

Stay strong, Kiddo! Just go right ahead and talk as you would normally. Don't let them diminish your joy - that's giving them too much power!

You can tell them that several people you know personally, me included, have met your daughter Angela and she is a lovely and delightful girl. I'm sure her sister is, too.

I think I actually told several rude folks, "If I leave her in the orphanage she will most likely get out at 16 or 17 and will be a prostitute within a year. Fifty percent of orphans commit suicide. Few orphans live to the age of 30. You think she deserves THAT future?!" That usually shuts people up.

Hang in there!
Dee

Anonymous said...

I've been following your blog for several months but never felt compelled to comment until now. The fact that you and your family are lovingly opening your home and hearts out to more children in need is a wonderful thing, and no one has the right to take any of the joy and excitement out of it for you. There are all sorts of families in the world and if that makes every family unique and special. It's a shame that you have to hear negative comments. Close your ears to them and concentrate on those you love you and support you and who will be true friends to your family. God bless you on your journey! Kelly

Mark, Stacye, Lainey & Andrew said...

I have enjoyed your blog for quite a while now. I was so sad to read the negative comments you are receiving during this exciting time in your lives. I wish I could say something that would make it better. People just don't "guard" their tongues as we are instructed to do and I don't think they realize the harm they can do. I know I don't always.

I really am so happy for you and can't wait to see your new additions. God bless you.

Karen said...

Cindy,

Keep that head held high -- I've actually had people ask me how much my son cost!

God bless -- you all are in my prayers,
Karen

Anonymous said...

Wow, Cindy, People really don't think before they speak. I would hope that if they really "HEARD" what they said, they would see the cruelty in it. I really am sorry as I'm sure it really hurt your feelings. It reminds me of some of our family's comments when we told them we were adopting from Kazakhstan.....they weren't happy....thought we were crazy...."didn't like the idea"....I could go on and on. We actually had to come to the agreement that if ANYONE did not accept Grant as completely ours and treated him any differently than they treat our bio daughter, that we would basically cut that person off from a relationship. Minus one couple in our family, everything worked out fine.
Isn't it ironic though that so many of your readers who havent even met you, are Sooo excited for you and your family and can't wait for your girls to come home. It also seems that those that are closest to you are very happy for you and supportive. As always, Best wishes.
Heather

Anonymous said...

I just want to say “Amen” to the previous comments and add this thought:

“Blessed are those who are persecuted for doing what God approves of... Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you, lie and say all kinds of evil things about you because of me.” Matthew 10 – 11

There’s always going to be naysayers and doom prophets, no matter what, whether it’s adding to a family, starting a business, moving, becoming a missionary, etc. Some people just don’t understand. Some people are afraid of risk, or doing things differently, or stepping out in faith. Some people are jealous of those who have courage. Some people just like to talk because they don’t have anything worthwhile to keep them busy. But, those thoughtless comments sure can get under our skin!!!

Friends of mine who are going through tough times right now are clinging to Psalm 27 and I commend it to you as well. Verse 10 speaks to all who have been orphans: “Even if my father and mother abandon me, the Lord will take care of me.”

If God chooses to use us to take care of His kids, why should we listen to anyone else??

With love, encouragement, and prayers for you ALL,

Peggy in Virginia

Jes said...

Oh man - it is such a bummer to get those kind of comments! So many people don't "get" it.

Maureen said...

Cindy,

I have not seen this in other adoptive families, but I have heard about it with friends that have biologically had 4 or more children. People in society think 2 is the perfect number of children. If you don't get a boy and a girl for your 2, then it might be acceptable to try for a 3rd, but beyond that you are really asking too much. I have seen this again and again and like you said, I don't understand it. Why is it anyone else's business how large you and your husband (and God) decide your family will be? But that won't stop them from talking. So, try to keep your chin up and know that you are doing what you need to do.

I wish you all the best! I "hear" that you are truly following your heart and what God is telling you. I am awed by your family full of love and willing to share your love. Your daughters will be (and are) blessed to be surrounded by so much love.

Shannon said...

Cindy-

You have our family's wholehearted support and prayers that your girls will join you all at home very soon. It gives me comfort to know that I am not the only one facing negativity right now. We have experienced a lot of negativity with this adoption and definitely are not receiving the excited support we received with E's adoption. It's disheartening and sad, but I guess, it is our reality. I believe it was you who reminded me many months ago that this is our passion and not the passion of others. I have kept that close to me and remind myself of that every day. Ultimately, while it sucks that you have to endure these absurd and thoughtless comments, you will be the victor when you are holding all five of your children close! Hang in there and as always, thank you for sharing so openly and honestly.

Anonymous said...

Cindy,

It is a big deal when it affect you and I am sure your children feel it, whether or not they actually hear the comments. Somehow other have decided that it is prefectly ok to be rude and insenstive toward others. I have gotten it for the last 17 years about my 2 daughters - from the moment I decided to adopt them thru today. Even from my daughter's neuro and I while know he is just interested in why anyone would take on the girls, it still stings. While I understand why the comment and question come up (most would run from my two), someone forgot to teach these people that just becasue they think it doesn't mean they have the right to say it.

I, like you, knew my children when I decided to adopt them. It is different then just having a picture or waiting to met a child. I went from agency to agency begging someone to help me and was blessed with the best homestudy agency. After explaining things over and over again to the agencies, I changed what I said to people. I droppped the "adoption" word. I started to say, and do to this day, that I was bring my daughters home. They were my daughters in my heart and soul - so why not call them that. They were just stuck in another country. I think our souls were connected. [It is bizzare but while I was working on the adoption, I heard my younger daughter (I some how new it was my younger daughter)speak in the room that was to be theirs - even thought she was not only still in Romania but did not speak at the time. When she did say her first word, it was the exact voice I had heard 10 months earlier.] It did help when I changed the wording - maybe because others were more able to relate?. It is hard but I try to remember that only I can let others words hurt me, and try to focus on my girls and how far they have come when others make negative comments.

Hang in there.

catherine N.

Lindsay said...

I often wonder why people who have nothing good to say just can't keep quiet! However that - sadly - does not appear to be human nature!

I know you are doing the right thing. And much more importantly than that, you, your husband and your kids know you are doing the right thing. What else could matter?