Saturday, November 13, 2010

Oh, But She's Adopted.....

My beautiful baby girl Karma

I find myself saying that a lot lately and I am not really sure why but I know its a habit I have to break, and soon.

Karma the day she came to us. 
The second they placed her in my arms
she was mine!
I developed it as a way to try and explain WHY I have so many kids as there seems to be some new unwritten rule in our society that says anything more than 2 or 3 kids is strange and out of the ordinary.  I get stares everywhere I go and hear whispered (and sometimes Very loud and blatant) comments ranging from the innocent and benign "oh wow, look at all those kids" and "that poor mama, she's a busy lady" to the occasional "why would anyone want that many kids?" "surely you are done having kids now" "you don't want any more right?" and my all time favorite one I have ever gotten, said with all the rudeness and disgust he could muster "I sure hope those are not all yours!"

I don't know who wrote this rule or when it was put into place but now it seems that if you have more than 2 or 3 you are some sort of freak of nature.  People are free to stare at you and say anything and everything they want and you are expected to just take it because you "choose" to be said freak.  You are a "breeding machine" that many think "need to be stopped".  Maybe it stems from all of the reality shows like "Kate Plus 8" (formerly "Jon & Kate Plus 8") and "19 Kids and Counting". 

Don't get me wrong, I also get the nice well meaning strangers too.  The ones who say things like "I know how you feel, I had-insert some large number here-kids myself, they are all grown and gone now".  These are all usually sweet older ladies, although I have heard it from a few men.  These are few and far between the ones listed above however.  Some of the people may not be meaning to come off as sounding harsh or judgemental.  I guess it is quite a sight to see me grocery shopping, pushing one of those huge carts around with the older 3 kids in it and the baby in her Baby Bjorn or Hotsling attached to me.  Maybe these people just do not understand how often I hear these comments and therefore, to me, they sound way harsher than intended.  I will never understand why strangers think its randomly ok to just vomit from the mouth whatever pops into their head.

Oh, and if 1 (or more) of my kids is having a break down or temper tantrum in the store, or where ever we may be, LOOK OUT!  The comments get real nasty and real ugly REAL FAST!  The "she needs to take them home"  and "doesn't she realize they need a nap?" and I even once heard "I can't believe she brings them all out in public like that"  REALLY?  SERIOUSLY?  Should I leave them at home by themselves instead, would that make your day easier because I am all about making YOUR DAY easier!  I have seen on shows such as "SupperNanny" that when your child is throwing a fit in the store you should leave and yeah, that sounds GREAT in theory, if you only have 1 or 2 kids with you.  When you have 4 kids, age 4 and under in the store you are on a mission.  You are focused on completing the task as quickly as possible and just getting out of there.  Rude and inconsiderate people only make this experience worse.  Its no picnic for me to listen to them screaming, at least you can walk away.  I have to go home with these little monsters.

So, ever since Sariah was born, it may have even started the last month or 2 of the pregnancy, I have developed a very bad habit.  Something that I just randomly spit out and feel the need to tell any and every stranger I meet.  I point to Karma and say "Oh, but she's adopted!".  This somehow seems to make me feel better in the moment and has many times made the rudest of people stop and gasp and even say "oh, sorry, that is wonderful of you guys......" and go into some random thoughts about how great they think I am for adopting her.

Its not the praise I am looking for, I am just trying to give them some explanation as to WHY we have 4 kids as if its illegal to do so.  As if saying "she's adopted" somehow magically makes it all ok and sadly, it does exactly like.  Suddenly I am this weird "supermom" in their eyes, almost like a martyr mom sacrificing myself for this poor adopted baby girl.  It has become a very bad habit and I find myself saying it multiple times to almost every stranger I can while we are out in public.  It has gotten so bad that several times, while on the phone paying bills or whatever they will hear 1 (or more) kids in the background and as "oh, how many do you have?".  Without even thinking about it I just reply "4, but-1-is-adopted".  I have even started typing this online anytime I am in some sort of mommy support group, chat, FB Page, you name it.  I will type "I am a mom of 4 ages 4 and under, but on is adopted".  I am pretty sure I even put that on this blog somewhere in the intro! 

This is not something I need to share with every person in the world.  I have even joked with my hubby that I should have a special "going out in public/shopping" shirt made  up with the phrase "Yes I have 4, but one is adopted!" om it so I don't have to explain it 10 plus times on every outing we go on.  I said this to him as a joke but I have realized I really do this.  I seriously explain to everyone all day long that I have 4, but one is adopted.

We by no means ever have or ever would plan to tell Karma we are her birth parents, she will always know she is adopted.  At the same time, she is getting older now, almost 18 months, and she is more and more aware of things every day.  I don't want her growing up and hearing me say over and over again "oh, but she's adopted".  I don't want her to feel like she is somehow less than our biological children and I know that growing up with this being thrown in her face on an almost daily basis will make her feel just that way.  She will think that she is somehow less than our other kids and that mommy must love her less, why else would she run around telling anyone and everyone she can that I am adopted.

This is a habit I developed as a means of defense, something to use to help shield the rudeness of others but its something I must stop.  Its making me feel guilty so I can only imagine what it will make her feel once she is old enough to understand what I am saying.

The truly sad thing is I should have never had to start this.  People should think about things before they just blurt them out.  Our society has become so rude and so callous to one another.  We live in a "me me me" world where people give no thought to others and care only for themselves.  How dare I actually take my kids out in public and disrupt the peace of others lives.  That's how many feel I know because they make it known to me in words, dirty looks, shrugs, huffs, puffs, you name it.

So the next time you are out in public and see a mom with X amount of kids (whatever you may consider as "a lot" or "too many") and you get the urge to blurt out something about it, even if you think its funny and know in your head you are only joking DON'T!  You don't know what the circumstances of that family are.  Maybe they are foster parents, some are adopted, maybe they are not even all that 1 mothers kids.  She might run a daycare or be caring for a sick friend/relatives children.  She should not be made to feel like she has to explain herself to every Tom Dick and Harry who walks by and feels the need to question "why so many?".  You may not think the things you are saying are rude at all, you may think they are funny or you may even be genuinely impressed with this mom and her skills to handle so many kids.  Speaking from a mom who has walked in her shoes, she can no longer distinguish those comments though.  She has been judged and criticized one too many times by people who DID mean to be rude and ugly to her about her personal choices so now all comments just blurr together and get lumped in the rude/harsh category.  So even the most genuine and well meaning of "supportive" comments are just another stone thrown at her, another ding in the armor she has had to build up to societies judgements and then she turns into the looney lady who walks around telling everyone "OH, BUT SHE'S ADOPTED"  See I am normal just like you, its ok, she's adopted, we are not crazy!!

We do not live in China people, we are free to choose to have as many or as few children as we like.
So, if you hear me saying this or see me typing this please feel free to call me out on it.

And to answer the other question I hear at least a dozen times a day.....

NO! We surely ARE NOT done having kids.  Will we have more, that has yet to be decided but it is a door we have left open.  We love all of them equally and that's all that matters to me.

Christy PROUD PROUD mommy to 4 beautiful, wonderful, special, irreplaceable children!


  1. I hear ya, mama! I'm right there with you, having 3 kids ages 3 and under. Its not 4, but I get the looks and the comments all the time because they are so close in age. Great post!!

  2. We have 7 here and I do feel like a freak show every time we go out in public.

  3. I'm fifth of 13. Classmates used to ask me if any of us were adopted [no] or if we all came from the same parents [yes]. If the answers were different, I have no idea how I'd have reacted. Something we learned in grade 11 biology (about dominant and recessive alleles) certainly implied that - but didn't fit with us. I mentioned it to my teacher and she gave me a weird look.

    No matter, children are children and if their parents/guardians are there for them, others' opinions don't matter. :)


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