By: Meika Rouda
While my son and daughter both happen to be white like my husband and me, we don’t look anything alike. When my son was born, I would take him to the park near our home in San Francisco and the Hispanic nannies would take a look at me and then my blonde-haired, green-eyed son and greet me with a warm “Hola, buenas dias,” and ask me questions about my charge. I admit, I did look like his nanny, and when I proclaimed “Soy la mama” they would smile and walk away with a curt smile on their faces like “yeah lady, whatever.”
So when people look at my daughter, who is very fair skinned with blue eyes and red hair and then look at me with my monochromatic cocoa coloring they inevitably ask, “Where did she get the red hair?” Sometimes I just smile and laugh and blow off the question, but sometimes I jump into my whole story. “Oh, she was adopted! Her birth mom actually had red hair so I hope it stays, but her birth dad had brown hair so it might turn…” They look at me blankly like, “whoa, I didn’t expect that.”
I am guilty of revealing too much information –more than I want to admit. I never know when I will launch into TMI about adoption; it surprises even me. It isn’t predictable like oh the person asking is a woman and I am sure she wants to hear all about our adoptions. Instead it is totally random, like a bout of Tourette’s. The reactions I get are also unpredictable. Some people love to hear the story and tell me about people they know who are adopted or who have adopted children. Others feel awkward and try to change the topic quickly. If a conversation gets going on adoption, I usually drop the double whammy and tell them I was adopted, too. That tends to be more than they can take. The conversation usually slides after that and I realize that people don’t really feel comfortable talking about adoption. It still feels a bit taboo, like there is some stigma attached and the feeling that this is not the way things are supposed to be creeps out like a thorn. When I tell people we chose adoption over IVF, it is difficult for them to understand. “Don’t you want to be pregnant? Don’t you want a child that looks like you?” they ask, incredulous. And the truth is: No, not really. I wanted to be a mother and that word to me means more than getting pregnant and giving birth. How that child came into my life, whether it was naturally or through a surrogate, IVF, or adoption didn’t matter to me. Nor does it matter what my children looked like. All that mattered is that they arrived safely and from that day forward, I became a mom and we became a family.
I have to admit that when people look at my figure and then say, “You have a four month old?! Wow! You look absolutely amazing!” I just take the compliment and smile. I figure, why not? Oops, am I sharing TMI again?