Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Morticia Addams (and the limits of social consciousness)

So here is an account of what happened "after the show" on Monday night. Once the concert was over, we made our way to the lobby where someone told us that the kids from the choir would be coming out soon. We thought it'd be neat to meet them, and our kids were doing really well, so we proceeded to hang around. Big mistake.

It wasn't long before the comments started coming hard and fast. You know, how I must really have my hands full, etc. Before too much time had passed, I started overhearing a group of people standing right in front of me talking about my kids. Very loudly. Well it was mostly the woman doing the talking--and incidentally, she looked JUST like Anjelica Houston's version of Morticia Addams! Anyway, she was commenting on the kids, assuring her friends quite confidently that my sons weren't twins. I kept ignoring her but she kept going on and on and finally I interrupted her and said, "No, they ARE twins." "No," she said, "TWINS?" "Yep," I replied, wishing the conversation would end.

Then she found the need to point at Yosef and say "Well but he looks bigger." (Thanks, I hadn't noticed!) "That's because he is bigger; they're fraternal twins" I said. "Are they YOURS?" she asked. "Yep". "ALL of them?", pointing at my three. "Yep."

I don't remember the rest of the conversation. She was rude, I was annoyed (but am always too polite to SEEM annoyed, though Kevin can generally tell), and I was wanting to get as far away as I could from this place.

Over the course of the fifteen minutes we were in the lobby, I got all sorts of fun comments (and interestingly most of the people at this event were Christians). One lady who was for some reason really incredulous that I adopted twins from Ethiopia asked if the boys were a girl and a boy, two girls, or two boys. Ouch!

SO, my takeaway from all of this is that I am amazed at how it is, on the one hand, acceptable, important, and a good Christian thing to do to attend a concert put on by Ugandan orphans, and to donate a few bucks when they pass the plate. But on the other hand ten minutes later these same people find the need to treat me like an alien from another planet for giving two orphans a home? Did they not see the video they showed, with the starving children with flies all over them?

Maybe it's comfortable watching that video from your cozy seat in the performing arts center. Maybe it's fun watching the choir and maybe people don't stop to think that any one of those children performing would have given anything for their parents to have lived, or for a family to love them. I don't want people thinking that those who adopt are heroes or saints--because we're not. But you'd think after watching a video on war-torn Uganda, adoption would at least make SENSE. You'd think that if you met someone who adopted two orphans that you wouldn't treat them like they were the weirdest people on the planet.

I guess I left feeling frustrated and disgusted with the seemingly double standards. Part of supporting these causes is supporting others who support them. Why on earth so many Christians find adoption so strange and find what adoptive families do such a leap is beyond me. I'm not saying everyone has to adopt; there are SO many ways to fight global hunger and help orphans/impoverished children that are not adoption-related. But why do I find that Christians consistently treat me the most like I've gone and done something really strange and crazy? To be honest this baffles me. Non-Christians, if anything, seem to think it's cool, or have questions, or whatever, but there doesn't seem to be the same judgement there.

I don't expect people to relate to my life, or want my life, or even understand my life. I DO wish they would be polite and not point at my children, that they wouldn't talk loudly about them saying things that are untrue, and I wish that they wouldn't act like the fact that I'm home with my kids like any other stay-at-home mom is suicide-worthy. And I realize these people don't know my boys' past. They don't know about the mom who couldn't care for them, about the 5 months they spent living in an orphanage overflowing with over 400 kids dying from AIDS. They didn't see first-hand the starving beggars and the women trying to give me their babies.

And they're not there when Biniam gives Yosef a hug, or when Anna tells Biniam she loves him "soooooooooooo much." They're not there to see Yosef's huge smile or how from the minute Biniam wakes up he's calling for Anna. So how COULD they begin to understand the love I have for my kids and for our crazy family? But I just wish they could understand that it's not enough to say we as Christians desire justice and want to help orphans. Because part of that is truly believing in our hearts that orphans are worth helping, that pursuing justice in God's name is worth whatever cost/commitment He asks of us.

I hugged my kids extra tight before bed that night. I can't imagine my life without them.

21 comments:

Sugar Creek Girl said...

Well girl, get used to it. You are doing something that goes against the values of this world. No one like to be reminded of their own sin, which is what leading a godly life does. The larger your family grows, the worse poeple feel about their own selfishness. The more you DO for a hurting world, the more they are reminded of what they do not do. And this is not just for non-christians. Just take comfort in the fact that if they hated HIM, we better hope they don't love us.

shell said...

i have read this twice and still havent figured out what to write. i get many of the same looks, comments, etc. it is hard, frusterating, weird, pointless. i always kiss them when they are sleeping and am too so thankful for the chance to be their mother and to teach them about jesus. thanks for sharing, even though it can be so hard. it is nice to know i am not alone!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Jeannett Gibson said...

I agree that it's likely just a sudden awareness of their own selfishness. Christians are people too, and have their own issues and are just as fallen as others. It SHOULDN't be that way, but it is. I would challenge you to ask them: "Why are you so shocked?" And let them stammer through it. Might get them thinking later on.

And as for the "you must have your hands full" comment...dont forget that many times people feel the need to somehow connect through conversation...and it's likely just the first thing that came to mind...because really, having four little ones is a lot of work (not that I know from experience).

Anyway, sorry people suck. But I do too, so I have to do my best to remind myself of that.

Brianna Heldt said...

For the record, I am an EXTREMELY selfish person and I have a plethora (great word, I know) of issues myself. I'm not supermom, superwife, or superhuman by ANY means. It just struck me as odd and ironic that at a (Christian) concert to benefit orphans, (Christian) people would act like you're really weird for adopting them!

It's true people like to connect thru conversation (as do I), and sometimes people do just feel like they have to say SOMETHING. But to seek me out to make sure I know how nuts I am for having my kids, right in FRONT of my kids, is just a bit much. I'm used to the "you have your hands full", but when I get the impression that someone feels sorry for me or like they downright think I'm a loser, I feel very protective of my kids. Maybe it's a mom thing, I dunno. At any rate I'm glad these situations don't arise too terribly often!

Erin O' said...

Gee, I can't believe that person didn't recognize her own hypocrisy -- or at least that she was being loud and rude.

People surprise me a lot. Sometimes in a good way, thankfully. Unfortunately, more often in a disturbing way.

I'm glad that on the whole, the experience was a good one for you and your family. The kids looked like they had a great time! I'm going to see if they'll be coming to our neck of the woods.

Also, wanted to thank you for your HIV and adoption posts. Thought-provoking, intelligent, and needed.

e

kristen borland said...

Preach it, sister. Gosh, how incredibly frustrating! It is amazing how blind people are, even me sometimes, to the things that really matter in this world. Praise God that you guys get it. I love your family! It warms my heart everytime I see you, and I long for my family to continue to grow (in whatever way God sees fit). I hope I am someday (soon hopefully!) called to the privelege of adopting a child(ren). Oh, and I sure get the "you have your hands full" comment. And you know what, yes my hands and arms are full, and it is so sweet!

Brianna Heldt said...

Heehee, Kristen you need to have a blog all your own so YOU can preach it, having had two kids so close together (really now, WHAT were you thinking?) You could share your Hallmark story (wasn't it in Hallmark when that lady said something weird and rude to you?)

DeAnna said...

I love what you had to say!! I don't think some Christians get when the Bible talks about caring for orphans what that means. Quite honestly I was probably one of them. God brought our 2 precious girls to us through adoption, both domestically. Our situation is different because God used infertility to open our eyes and our hearts (but that's another story) I think people think that the only reason someone adopts is because they "can't have children of their own" (to steal one of the statements I hate the most) So probably when they see that you have 1 biological daughter and another on the way they stupidly think "Why did THEY adopt?" Your right, you'd think Christians would understand. One of the things that bothers me the most is hearing someone say to me about themselves or others, I love adoption BUT since we have biological children..... or so and so was going to adopt, BUT then they got pregnant. When God brought us to adoption it was more than just fulfilling our desire for children it was really fulfilling His plan! Like you said, we may not all be called to adopt, but we are all commanded to care for the orphans one way or another.

Bek said...

THat is frustrating. People can be so thoughtless sometimes. You seem to have handled it with grace and patience... and that is what your children will see after all.

Mine aren't from Ethiopia,but I get stuff like that all the time. I think that often people don't realize that what they say is hurtful and the questions they ask are intrusive...

kristen borland said...

oh yes, brianna, my hallmark story. this was with zeb. i was condemned for bringing another male into this world. i was told he would give me so much grief and grow up to be a horrible person, a drug user, a womanizer, a divorcee, etc, etc, etc. can't you just see zeb growing up this way? for crying out loud! some people need to keep their problems to themselves (or at least not share them with strangers).

Amy said...

I just wanted to chime in with Deanna's comment....We too did not have adoption placed on our hearts until we experienced some fertility problems. But we now see that it took going through a few difficult years to bring our hearts to a place of total excitement about adoption! We would not have it any other way now...at least for our first born! I hear comments all the time like "my friend stacy couldn't get pregnant either and then decided to adopt and then they got pregnant." Or "you will probably get pregnant as soon as you adopt." We are not adopting in hopes that we will get pregnant!! These comments drive me nutty! We are so thankful and excited that the Lord has put international (ethiopia) adoption on our hearts....and for us this is PLAN A! :)
People can be so insensitive with their words....thanks for sharing this incident.

Arlene said...

Thanks for sharing your experience with all of us. I am in hopes that many will read it and consider their own thoughtless actions and words when their hearts are questioning the actions of others, not only in regards to adoption. Judging everyones lives but our own is a world wide problem that can even escalate into wars. God bless you and your family as you seek His guidence in all and any confrontations that you will find along life's journey. Your wisdom will teach those that haven't yet grasped the truth about God's love.
Love and Blessings from Sheri's mom, Mikiyas grandma.

Lyle & Sheri said...

It brings tears to my eyes reading your story. I've boiled it down to a whole lot of jealousy. They didn't do it. Maybe they should have. Maybe they feel convicted. So to make themselves feel better, they talk as if they know everything about us and our children and the experience us adoptive parents go through. I agree ... ask them why they're so surprised. As much as I can't wait to bring home my Mikiyas, there isn't a day go by that I don't think of the comments and stares we'll get. The comments already stun me sometimes when people just know we're adopting. I pray the God shields our childrens' ears from such rudeness. Thanks for your story. Sheri

Solomon & Malachi said...

I'll betcha, had I been there, I would have been in the crowd around you, gawking at your family. I just hope that at least some of those folks around you were gawking for the same reason I would be: Your children are georgous, multi-racial families are facisnating and symbloize everyhting good in the world, and that little voice from somewhere inside that says, "Wow. I SO need to go adopt some babies!"

PS - Pease say a prayer for our family. Our second adoption attempt has officially failed. I'm beginning to understand why people go international. Working with the foster care system can go so wrong. But, after all, meth addicted mommy deseves a third chance at parenthood, right? Please pray protection over our girl. We're worried sick.

Anonymous said...

just a thought here...we parent fraternal twins and get the same questions ALL the time. ours are blonde hair, blue eyed, like us.... has it occurred to you this is the public's infatuation with twins. we deal with that lots.

Brianna Heldt said...

My issue isn't with people noticing my kids, it's with people rudely treating me like I'm stupid for having them, or feeling sorry for me because I'm home raising them myself and don't have a maid or a nanny. (AND feeling free to tell me this right in front of my kids.)

kristen borland said...

brianna, just yesterday i got some more comments. we were out watching daddy run his marathon (yeah, mikie!), and i had the boys with me of course. people in general were all googly over how cute they are (so true), but i did have people try to "sypathize" with me over what tough luck i have having two little ones so close together. honestly, it's a little too much at times. one guy, who happens to know one of my brother-in-laws so we ended up talking awhile, was feeling so sorry for me and my lot in life and jokingly pulled me aside and told me it's okay to "just say no" to my husband (the nerve! it was a joke, but i was totally put off). he was also very discouraging about big families (and you know how i feel about that). so i just flat out told him the truth--that i absolutely love me family, that i thoroughly enjoy them, and i hope to have many more kids. he later was praising babies and saying how once you become a parent, no matter how old your kids are, you still love babies. i think originally he was really just trying to make conversation and joke around, but it still can get to me. why do the majority of people feel the need to feel sorry for me that my children are 13 months apart? i'm truly a lucky mommy.

and a side note, with all the talk of twins (and people asking you if your boys are twins), i find it fascinating how many times i'm asked if my boys are twins.

Brianna Heldt said...

Oh Kristen that is embittering! (How funny if you had told him, "actually Mike and I have only been together two times..." heehee!) The sympathy just kills me. I don't understand why people automatically assume that you need them to feel sorry for you. Personally I think it's sweet your boys are 13 months apart. They will be such pals growing up and you're getting all their baby stuff out of the way at the same time basically.

Really now, you ought to start a blog!!!

5KidMom said...

Oh Brianna! I am SOOO sorry you had to deal with this ignorant woman, and in a church setting no less. You know that you answered God's call when you brought your boys home. You know that you are all "lucky" and blessed because you are together now. You have every right to be offended and feel protective. You are a Mom, and Moms have to go there sometimes. It would be great if everyone else would understand and have their heart changed, but alas, all in God's time. In the mean time, keep doing what your doing and we will too. Chin up, friend. 8^)

kristen borland said...

yes, brianna, maybe i should start a blog. i have such deep things to say. just kidding--well not about the blog part. you've inspired me. i'll let you know. but then, if i have a blog i might not spend all my time commenting on yours, and that would be a such a dear loss to you and the whole blogging world. :) hee, hee!

from one mommy "with her hands full" to another mommy "with her hands full", next time you get the comment "wow, you really have your hands full", try saying, "yeah, and isn't it awesome?"... that's my own personal goal. i got that comment at the park today (because you really can't go anywhere without getting it), and all i said was "yeah", which is so typical of me. next time i'll come up with a better comment.

btw, so proud of you for having 19+ comments on this post.

Brianna Heldt said...

Well Kristen I would certainly miss your comments on my blog, this is true! Hee hee. BUT then I could read your thoughts on things. And that would be fun!

I got a real humdinger (great word, huh?) at the post office yesterday. I may do a post all its own about it, but I had a woman call me crazy, and not in a joking voice. Grrrrrrrr! My personal goal is also to say something instead of my usual, "well, they're good kids." I will let you know the day I am successful in this!

 

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