A Mother Overhears An Upsetting Conversation
By Meika Rouda
I just want to say that this really happened, as far fetched as it may seem, this is a true conversation I overhead. I think I may be the only person who could possibly hear such a conversation but that is true of most things in my life.
The other day I was at Trader Joe’s doing my grocery shopping. My life has become a series of different stores for different foods, Trader Joe’s for snacks and hummus, Whole Foods for milk, meat and eggs and a CSA for fruit and veggies. But my shopping habits are another story.
As I was browsing the cheese area, wondering if I should buy the petite basque cheese I love, convincing myself that other people in my family will eat it even though they never do and I guiltily consume the entire block in about a week, there were two women next to me talking. The women were in their early fifties, the first woman in the pre-requisite yoga pants and lulu lemon sweatshirt, ponytail, non botoxed face. The other woman was pretty, wearing patterned leggings and an off the shoulder sweatshirt I admired when I first saw her. She looked friendly and spoke with animated confidence. The women hadn’t seen one another for a long time and they were catching up. After some banter about a trip to the Galapagos, it turned into this:
Woman 1- “So how are the kids”.
Woman 2- “Oh my god, they are a mess. You know they were adopted?”
Woman 1 “Oh, yes I guess I did.”
Woman 2 ” Well, our son is at Delancy Street, you know what that is right?”
Woman 1 “Um yes” (for those of you who don’t know, Delancey Street is a residential program for ex-convicts, substance abuses and others who are struggling that teaches life and work skills.)
Woman 2 ” I married into it, you know.” She said this flippantly, shrugging her shoulders.
Woman 1 “What about your daughter?”
Woman 2 “Oh she is a mess too!”
Woman 1 “The swimmer?”
Woman 2 “Yes, she has tons of self-esteem issues. We have gotten her so much therapy, but she just can’t get over her adoption. And kids were really mean to her growing up, they used to call me ‘Fake Mommy’ and tell her she had no mom.”
Woman 1 “That is awful.”
Woman 2 “I know. So she really has a ways to go, but I think she has finally found a job she likes that she can handle…”
I walked away from the cheese. I didn’t want to hear anymore and I couldn’t keep picking up random cheese and putting them down. Plus I kept sneaking glances at the women because, I just couldn’t help myself and I was worried I might interject and join their conversation with my own story, but thankfully I didn’t. I just grabbed my triangle of Petite Basque and walked away.
But my heart was racing. Even when I got into the car I kept thinking about what she was saying. Are all adoptees destined for esteem issues, drug addiction and overall life failure. No, of course not but that seems to be the excuse this woman was using. I started to panic thinking that my beautiful, sweet, full of life children will fall victim to the adoptees curse. Something I have managed to avoid.
But then again, I know many kids who are drug addicts who aren’t adopted, many people who have esteem issues who were born and raised by their biological families. I still hold on to the notion that you can be ok if you are adopted. I mean I’m okay, you’re okay?
It saddened me to think of the kids of Woman 2 who have struggled so much. Maybe it is because of their adoption, maybe since she married into the family they didn’t have a relationship with their adopted mom, who knows. I can only speculate. But I do believe you can defy the odds, humans do it all the time. It is our capacity and nature to adapt, cope, to figure out how to survive physically and emotionally. And I believe my kids will be able to do that, just as I have.
Photo Credit: Serge Melki