The Grenade that Fizzled Out
I have never before stepped out of a closet in quite same way we did on December 25th. As many of you may remember Mr. MPB and I told his parents about our decision to adopt. We threw out our grenade. We hoped for the best. Yet, we prepared for the worst.
I worried almost obsessively about how they would take the news. How would they respond to a non-biological grandchild and a grandchild potentially of a different race? How will our relationship change if they are not supportive?
So, we were very calculated about how we delivered the message and the exact details that we shared. Our delivery was incredibly direct and fact based without room for misinterpretation. The key messaging was:
We are really excited to be choosing to adopt.
We are choosing an open infant adoption.
We are choosing to adopt from California, USA.
Typical wait times are 1 to 1.5 years.
We are really excited.
We were very careful to utilize appropriate language, like:
- The birth mother choose us.
- Placing a child (as opposed giving up).
- We pay fees for lawyers and social workers (as opposed to buying a child).
We did not tell them about:
- Our struggles and medical history (i.e. our 5 miscarriages, my surgeries, our trip to a specialist in NYC, our medically required abortion, etc.). We did this for 2 reasons. First, we needed to protect our own hearts as we are working to heal from all of this. Second, our adoption story is now the story of our child. It is unfair for us to introduce them based on our past history – they deserve a happy introduction not one of we are adopting because we have five dead babies. In our opinion it is not the appropriate way to frame such exciting news! (Oh, and we also much prefer the perspective of we are adopting because we want to have a family.
- Where we are at in the adoption process. We did not tell them we have just submitted our paperwork and are hoping to do our home studies sometime in the next month. We did not tell them we are not yet approved. We did this for two reasons. First, we really do not phone calls on a weekly basis asking for updates, the adoption process involves A LOT of waiting, and we don’t want a regular reminder of the wait. Second, by sharing how early we are in the process, they may try to sway our decision. At this point in time our decision is final and we don’t want unsolicited input from others on how we should have our family.
- We did not discuss the detailed financial side of international adoption. We do not need our parents scrutinizing our financial decisions and giving us opinions that are not warranted or wanted.
- Detailed selection information on the adoption forms. We did not tell them about our race decisions, or substance abuse choices, or any of that. In fact, we do not plan to tell anyone the specifics of this, as it is no-ones business and is something that non-adoptive parents don’t really seem to understand anyways (more on that subject in an upcoming post).
Thankfully and somewhat surprisingly they took our news in the most positive way we could ever have expected! There was lots of talk about being grandparents, teaching the child to skate, giving us Mr. MPB’s high chair, and visiting more often once we have a child. They asked a few questions right away, but less than we expected. Over the few day visit, a few more questions came up, but again less than we expected. When questions were asked, we were direct and very forward with the answers. They asked questions like:
Have you thought about trying IVF?
We simply said, we will not be having biological children, and left no room for further discussion. (Remember, they do not know our miscarriage history)
Could the child be of a different race?
Race does not matter to us, so yes it may be.
We realize you must have gone through a lot the last few years, we are here to talk if you want.
We know. If we wanted advice we would have asked for it. But this is not a decision by committee, rather it is our decision, and only our decision.
Can we come meet the baby when you are in California?
No. No-one will be joining us in California – that is our time as a family to bond. You are welcome to meet our child when we return home.
We let one inappropriate adoption comments slide, for now. The child will be so lucky to have you as parents. We let it slide because they could say that about a biological child as well and there terminology did not specify adoption. Also, we needed to focus on being positive. It was simply not the time to jump down their throats and comment about how an adoptive child should be no more grateful for their parents then a non-adopted child, and we never want our child to feel that they owe us some debt of gratitude – while yes, our adoption will likely help provide a child with a stable home, we are not doing this for the betterment of the world. Rather we are adopting because we desperately want to have a family, and we know we can do it. If it comes up again, we will correct it.
So, were we surprised by their reaction? Yes and no. We were desperately hoping they would be supportive, but in the past they have not been accepting of my “step-family” so our expectations were low. So, we were surprised because they were just so incredibly supportive of non-biological grandchildren. And yet at the same time we weren’t surprised because we did just tell them they were going to be grandparents, and most often people are excited to hear that!
Are we relieved by their reaction? Absolutely!! We really wanted them to be happy for us, and be excited for grandchildren. So, we were both 100% relieved that they took the news so positively. And more than anything, we are so incredibly excited that they are excited for us!
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