Thursday, 13 June 2013

Warm fuzzy glows and "how to respond to that...?!"


I'll start with the warm fuzzy glows.  Even just thinking back to last weekend makes me feel all cosy and warm like I've just downed a mug of hot chocolate (but slightly less bloating).  I can't quite remember if I've ever blogged about the New Family Social AGM back in 2011 where our adoption journey really started.  We were both 27 at the time, and biding our time.  What we saw there were confident, gorgeous (in an emotional sense) happy families and we felt all amorous and warm and fuzzy.  We were filled with the confidence that we could do this thing!  Our relationship was strong, we had just moved to an area where we felt like we could bring up a happy family and the warm fuzzy glow was all we needed to get us going...and here we are!

So we have wanted to start a more local to us branch of NFS but have been a bit short on members...until now!  On Saturday 6 couples (one + child) all met up at our local zoo.  We picnicked in the sunshine and the warm fuzzy feelings came flooding back!  There's something really nice about just feeling normal.  Something really settling about there being people down the road who are the same kind of normal that we are.  I could see that us being there with our little girl was having the same kind of positive effect on the couples there who were going through the approval process and hoped that it would be boosting their confidence in the same way the NFS folk boosted ours.  It's great to think that when Squiblet gets a bit older she will be able to tap into this fantastic group of people.  And they really are!  Such a wonderful mix of ethnicities, careers and life experience.  It makes me feel great to think that these people are part of our local support, a bit like our own NCT, but without the middle class filters.  It was great!  And we are hoping to book up regular meetings so it will be really cool to see everyone's adoption journeys coming along and watch their families grow.  Does that sound patronising?!  Probably.  I don't mean it to be!

So...the "how do I respond to that?!" part of my post.  Living in the middle class bubble that we do, Squiblet's name is more unusual than it might be elsewhere.  We, however, think it's awesome.  It's quite an American popstar name (a bit like Brandy or Candi!), all the teenage girls I teach thought it was very cool and it was chosen by her birth father, so we kept it.  It suits her, it's short and funky and bubbly.  We like it!  But all the time I get "what an unusual name!" "that's such a pretty name" which is middle class code for "that's weird, why isn't she called Cassie or Florence or do realise where you live don't you?!" A few times I've told the truth...but I feel a bit uncomfortable about that.  A bit like if someone says "what a nice green bathroom you have" (code for..."eurgh, what a hideous green bathroom you have") and you say "yes, it was here when we moved in"...making an excuse for it.  I don't want her name to be a green bathroom!  In this metaphor, I like green bathrooms...I'm getting carried away here.  Anyway, I have discussed the issue with my friends and the ever wise Mama bear and we have decided to go with "yes, we think it suits her".  End of.  It's her truth to tell, after all.  I've told enough people that she is adopted that they aren't wondering why some random has suddenly rocked up at the local toddler group with a 2 year old.  I think it's time I stopped!  People also often ask "why did her mother give her up?"  To me it's quite alarming that people still commonly have this conception of there being hundreds of relinquished babies...don't they read the news?  But what do I say to that one.  Usually something like "she was taken into care because her birth family couldn't care for her".  This is usually sufficiently vague that people don't probe further.  What do they want?  Messy details?  I don't go around asking people if they pooed when they gave birth or if they had to have stitches do I?  There are some messy details best kept private...surely!  And the last "how do I respond to that?" is the "wow, weren't you guys lucky to get her and not....[a hideous dysfunctional damaged child?]".  I mean, really?!  What do I say to that?!  I say "yes!  She's wonderful, and isn't she doing well!"  End.  I know what people mean.  Sort of.  We are lucky.  She is wonderful and clever and kind and funny and fits us perfectly.  We are so lucky.  It's the "and not..." part that I don't like.  Like somehow children from the care system are damaged and scary and you wouldn't want one in your house.  It's the way it implies that she was some sort of pot luck commodity when in reality she's a person, albeit a small one, but a living, growing person and it just seems a bit callous to talk about her like that.  Somehow it makes me feel like if she doesn't behave well people will think "ooh, I bet they regret bringing that into their house" in a way that people just don't think about birth children.  None of the above make me angry; I'm generally pretty placid and none of it is malicious.  Indeed, I think much of it is people thinking they are being kind, or just making conversation. But I do spend a lot of time analysing my own responses to these things, as I know it's something I'll have to talk to Squiblet about when she gets older, so that she has the confidence to answer these strange and vacuous questions without compulsive truth telling (like her mother!) or lies (which would make her past seem like a dirty secret).

We've had Squiblet for 1/5 of her life now.  In cake terms, that's a massive piece!  Hurrah.

And hurrah for the launch of The Adoption Social...and well done to the team behind it who have been working hard for ages for all our benefit.

Enjoy the weekend everyone...and happy Father's Day!  [Squiblet has merrily made three cards for her grandads]


  1. The questions/comments can be difficult to handle can't they? Seems that so many people who have an opinion about adoption don't really have that much actual knowledge about it! As I fostered my son for so long before I adopted him, I find myself often telling people he's adopted, just to bring them up to date on his change of status. I do wonder how long it will be before I'm comfortable to drop the 'adopted' and just stick with 'son', especially as I move in circles where single motherhood isn't that common! I find that others are also keen to use the word 'adopted' as if trying to explain where he's come from - this will have to stop very soon as he grows older and understands more.

  2. Sometimes over inquisitive questions about adoption really can be be very rude. I have always been very open about our adoption so that it doesn't seem to be something to be embarrassed or ashamed about. Most people who know us in our local community know that the boys are adopted. I don't want it to be what defines us but at the same time I want to make it as easy as possible for the children to accept their history and feel comfortable with the way our family is made. I'm sure you will find the right line to take for your family.

    I love the sound of New Family Social. Maybe you could write a piece for The Adoption Social and we can include links.

    Thanks for being part of The Weekly Adoption Shout Out. x

  3. Haha - I love your cake portion comparison. I'm totally going to use that!
    The questions are hard. We are eight months in and I still don't know. Sometimes I share too much and then feel icky so I know to shut my mouth next time. But then strangers will ask me questions about Jonathan's cochlear implants and I can't answer them and they look at me like I'm not fit to parent because how could i not know certain things but I don't feel like it's their business and I don't want to explain and hear their opinions on it.
    What I've figured out is there is no right answer. It's whatever you want to share at the time and feel is right.
    I'd love to hear more about the New Family Social. There are no groups where I live and I've thought about trying to start something up but not sure if it will be too difficult or not...more info about that would be great!!!