Tuesday, October 19, 2010

You Gonna Fix That?

Recently we bumped into someone with whom we had a bare acquaintance years ago. He was flabbergasted to see that we now have five kids

"Dude, that's crazy! What, are you like the Duggars?"

AND that we had adopted.

"Is she Ch!nese from Ch!na?"
"Yeah, I've heard those Ch!nese just don't want their girls at all."
and "How long did THAT take you?"
"I've heard it's like forever for those kids."
and my personal favorite: "They don't really want all those kids there anyway, so why the big deal?"

At which point he launched into a semi-political rant about the US owing Ch!na so much and Ch!na owning the US someday and economics and something about the big, bad, terrible C*mmunist machine...

Yes, he really did. He DID.

And so, after only 2 minutes of conversation with him, I'd already had it. I'm not proud of this, but with a little bit of me that wanted to just wig him out a little bit more, I sweetly smiled and explained that our process really didn't take all that long because we opted to pursue a special needs adoption. I almost grinned at his totally predictable response.  Gape-jawed, he was looking over at her to see if he could find any obvious signs of "NEEEEEDS."

I repent. I was snarky. Please, don't judge me.

HA! She was laughing and playing happily with her sister, talking a mile a minute and acting like a totally "normal" three-year old. Well, a three-year old badly in need of a nap, anyway.

"Really? What's wrong with her?"

By way of background, please understand, none of his comments were said kindly. He doesn't "do" kindly. But by then I was feeling a teensy bit badly about my snarky intents, so I nicely explained that she is deaf in her right ear as a result of microtia. At his blank look (and I admit, to ward off further offensive commentary) I gave a brief explanation of what that looked like in real life for her. You know, the deformity of the ear and the lack of an ear canal. And I stopped there.

"So. You gonna fix that for her?"
"You know, make it look more normal, like a regular ear?"

At this juncture, I knew it was pointless to continue this conversation. I knew that he didn't really care that her speech was "normal" and that her hearing ear is able to receive sounds "normally." Or that she was beautiful, inside and out and had more drive and more passion and more LIFE in her little bitty pinky finger than he did in his whole critical, judgmental, narrow-minded self. He just didn't.

And I knew this not just because I've known him since he was a clueless, narrow-minded 20-something, eons ago. (I know, weren't we all?! To some degree or another, I'm sure I was.) But because he had his child with him.  A sweet, adorable, shy little child who had an obvious physical struggle going on. However temporary, that physical difficulty was OBVIOUSLY not sitting well with daddy. We never asked about it, but dad offered. In sharp tones of frustration mixed with denial and a touch of disbelief at its very existence.

I fully admit that I might have been assuming a lot at that particular observation. But watching the sweet, tender little person gauge dad's disapproving, harsh tone and react accordingly?  I don't think so.

So I guess the real question was for that dad.

You gonna fix that?


heidi @ ggip said...

My prepared response to the question is always, "There is nothing wrong with being different."

For special needs international adoption, I think the confusion is there because the special needs are so varied. I know that kids are labeled as special needs just because of their age (which completely surprised me).

Bleh. I would not be a happy camper to have that conversation :(

The Gang's Momma! said...

Heidi, I love that response. I might have to stick it in the tool box.

And yes, I do agree that with Int'l Adoption it is often different. Not only are the needs varied, but to say "special needs" here conjures a whole different kind of image than it does once one is familiar with "special needs" in the adoption community.

With some folks, it's worth it to take the time to educate - cuz you know they really want to know. This time? Eh, not so much.

And after two years, I'm finally starting to learn the difference.

Cindi Campbell said...

I can only imagine how you must have felt after having that conversation! SN kids are AMAZING!

A Beautiful Mess said...

You snarky is the same as me being nice....I need to work on that:)

Oddly I have yet to have anyone say something dumb to me since we brought sophie home...maybe they pick up my crazy vibe?

Aus said...

Ya know - there are times when it's good to be a guy - and the conversations like this are one of those times....'cause we can say things that are outright rude and get away with it because we are just 'socially clueless guys'.

I'd have been inclined to look at this guy and 'splain to him that the need his child has is nothing in comparison to the way his *&$$ poor attitude is making his child feel (and all sorts of negative words pop into my head)

Please tell me that you asked him outright to 'fix his head'!

Thanks for gettin it - hugs around - aus and co.

Classic Mama said...

Such a terrible experience, but sooo brilliantly captured here. Let's hope that he stumbles onto it. :)