I’ve had a bit of writer’s block today. Well…that’s not quite right. I have had things I’ve wanted to share, but the words wouldn’t flow. I didn’t want to share too much or keep too little. But, I can definitely say my writer’s block is GONE. Today, I had the unfortunate privilege of listening to the incorrect assumptions and generalizations of adoption and its funding.
I was sitting at my desk during a lunch break and happened to look at a grant application for adoption. I hadn’t applied for this one before and I wanted to see if our family qualified. If we did, I would have marked the URL for review tonight when I was at home. It was about this time that I felt someone behind me. You know the feeling. The horror movie feeling where the girl has seemingly escaped the bad guy and is hiding from it or him, peering around the corner, and then slowly realizes that someone or something is at her back. She does the slow over the shoulder glimpse and, shock of the year, there he is! Well, that’s kind of my experience.
I did the slow turn and one of my colleagues is literally standing behind my back peering at my screen. Fortunately for me the only thing showing was a statement that reminded the viewer that we are charged to care for the widows and the orphans. No personal information or anything like that, but I was a bit taken back. And because I was so shocked by this person’s presence I said, “oh, just doing a bit of adoption research on the break”.
Now, I recognize that this statement alone opened the door, gave a carte blanche of sorts to discussion, but nothing prepared me for the conversation that followed. This colleague stated that while he thought it was wonderful that my husband and I were adopting, he felt it absolutely unfair the exorbitant costs that were associated with adoption. He felt agencies were getting rich of of people like my husband and myself. Now, I’m listening to him go on and on about how something should be done about the “prices” and feel myself turning all kinds of shades of red (which is difficult as I am an African-American). I’m getting embarrassed as it is because my colleague speaks with a loud baritone and by now I am certain everyone is listening to his conversation. I say his because I’m not getting any words in edgewise. And just as I am about to politely attempt to change the subject, my other colleague who sits in the same general area as I begins talking.
He agrees with the statement that adoptions cost “way too much” and goes on to say how he feels there should be legislation to regulate the prices. How it should be based on heart and not funds. I’m listening to his opinion, respecting him, agreeing with some, disagreeing with others, still not speaking because the two colleagues are speaking to each other now and not to me when one says six words that completely STOPPED any thoughts of joining the conversation….he said “I mean, it’s legalized human trafficking”.
WHAT?!!! This feeling on pure heat rushed through me and I heard myself offer a rebuttal before I even realized what was coming out of my mouth. “Adoption is in no way, form, or fashion legalized human trafficking”. He affirmed that it was and that all that was missing was “the forced sex and drugs”. WHAT?!! So, I politely excused myself to go to the bathroom, made sure to stop by the front desk for stress-relieving chocolate, and left the office for a rare out of office lunch.
The entire way to lunch I was shocked. I kept playing over and over again what I should have said, what I could have said. I remember when I started this journey that I was told by close friends who had gone through the adoption process that I would hear all kinds of things from people who just didn’t know any better. Their’s wasn’t an attempt at malice, but of ignorance. They simply didn’t know.
Those words were brought to my remembrance and I felt a little better. But I still felt greatly embarrassed that I didn’t say too much to defend. I did defend our daughter’s caseworker as one of the greatest and hard working individuals I’ve ever known and certainly not the money-grubbing person the colleagues’ conversation attempted to make her out to be. I also defended the agency. Out agency has been awesome. There were agencies in the beginning that wanted upwards of $40K. In our journey, I’ve seen adoptive families who require a lot more. Our amount seems paltry in comparison. [And] I am convinced our agency is truly vested in the best interest of the child, not money or anything else. I did say that as well. So, as I replayed these things over in my head, I felt better….but not greatly.
Then, tonight, I sat down and looked up a few scriptures online. I did some internal searching and re-evaluated the conversations. I recognize(d) a few things.
1. The colleagues weren’t trying to be mean or nasty. They have their own opinions and that’s fine. I can choose to correct some of the incorrect things they believe or not. I spoke where I felt necessary and I chose to end the conversation by not being a part of it. They meant no harm and I don’t even think they knew I was uncomfortable with the conversation.
2. I had to self-evaluate. Why was I so embarrassed? Was I worried about what they thought about me? If I was, why? I am not here to impress anyone and our journey is open to scrutiny. That’s what brings growth and a healthy discussion. I realized I didn’t like the comparison of human trafficking and child purchasing. I immediately corrected the statement, said what I needed to say in a calm and polite manner, and kept it moving. People are going to say, do, and think what they want. Mine is to drop a seed. Someone else will be provided to water it.
3. I know both of these colleagues…not intimately, but I have worked with them day in and out for quite some time now. I know that the heart of their ‘argument’ was there are a lot of great people in the world who would adopt, but don’t see being able to afford it. They wished there was some legislation that would regulate that. I’ve heard others say the same. It is an interesting topic of debate and having someone who is going through the process likely brings it home for them…especially since we are in the process of fundraising and grant application.
So, while I was initially hot and taken aback, I’m more comfortable with the fact that I got to home tonight to my family, to my daughter. I got to look into her eyes as I fed her. I got to see her smile as we sang. I am happy, blessed, and so grateful. This journey has nothing to do with money or anything remotely close to it. This journey is the journey to our daughter’s adoption and I am certainly thankful for it.