As we get closer to bringing home a child, I’ve started to wonder: How do you tell a neighbor you’re adopting? In our neighborhood, people are friendly enough. They wave and say hello when they walk by. The neighbors nearest to us are polite and nice, but pretty much keep to themselves. I spend a majority of my nights now imagining what the call will be like, and what the first few days of parenthood will be like. What will it be like to one day have no child, and the next day we have one? What will the neighbors think?
Most people tend to picture their neighbors as the judging type, judging our lawn, car, social life, and casting that image onto us. If you have your Christmas light still up in July, or your dog sits outside all day, there must be something wrong with you. I fall into this trap as well. For example, our neighbor has mowed their lawn twice this week…after dark. Dark here is about 9pm. Further adding to the mystery is that the person mowing looks to be their dad perhaps, not anyone who is living there. We haven’t seen the man of the house in a while. Is he on a business trip out of state? Is there trouble in paradise? Is dad a vampire who can only mow after dark? Speculation, unsubstantiated speculation, and crazy speculation, all in three questions.
What kind of speculation can the neighbors make of us with a new child (sans baby bump)? Well, I suppose there are many options. The child is adopted. They are babysitting for the child. Maybe she was one of those “I Didn’t Know I Was Pregnant” people. They kidnapped the child. The child crash landed from a distant planet. Hmm, not as many crazy options as I thought. I guess the real question I have is, how prominent is adoption is the minds of the American public in general?
A few years ago, we were at an Omaha Royals baseball game. I remember there was a group of kids with two adults, probably parents, at the game. The kids did not look the same, which triggered in my head “birthday party”. Except, it didn’t fit. There were five kids, and while my ability to guess children’s ages is on par with my ability to match a pair of shoes with an outfit, they obviously weren’t in the same class. That the kids could be adopted did not cross my mind. It probably makes the most sense, but at the time that world was not in my universe.
As friends and family, you have a connection to the world of adoption through us. I was surprised at the number of friends and family that already had that connection. Some knew a co-worker who adopted overseas. Some had a cousin who just got their child. Some had considered adoption for themselves. It’s not as uncommon as I might have thought.
Adoption in popular culture is more prevalent today than in past years. This helps in demystifying the process and making it feel more common. When I think of popular adoption, I think of Madonna, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie and Modern Family. However, there is a common theme in these adoptions. International adoption. The best domestic example is Juno, which I’ll give my thoughts on in another post.
Even if our neighbors have seen Juno, have a sister who is adopting, etc., they might not be inclined to guess adoption, nor, I suppose, should they. I just wish it was easy to casually drop the news to them. “Hey, nice lawn, and oh, by the way, we’re in the adoption process right now.” I want to tell them, but we’ve got a routine now. Typically we greet when we’re both out with the dogs. The interaction goes one of two ways. A wave and a “Hello”, or, if I’m in my pajamas, a nod, signifying the existence of the other, but I’m not dressed up enough to engage in any real conversation.
So, the information flow is still currently clogged, but perhaps one day our neighbor will casually drop a “What’s new with you?”, and I’ll have that opening to dump the information. Either that, or they’ll have to read my head nod as “I don’t want to be out here this early with the dog”, but I guess I’ll have to get used to getting up early with our soon to be adopted child, am I right?