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Teachable Moment: What Would You Do?

Posted Jul 19 2010 4:01am

I feel as if it has been ages and ages since I sat down and really did a ‘real’ blog post that was longer and more thoughtful than a drive by. Since Baby Jay came our way, I have been playing catch up. God added water and we became instant parents. Baby Jay is nothing but a pure blessing from heaven but he came to us so quickly that I barely had time to get the right size diapers let alone the accompanying accouterments.

 Nadia and I are just getting around to putting his nursery together—2 months after his birth– and we are slowly starting to exhale.  I still feel overwhelmed when I go into a baby store but it’s getting better and that’s thanks, in large part, to many of you.

 Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

 Nadia and I are completely in love with Baby Jay. We are awe struck, really.

 But in the midst of my reverie, I feel compelled to share another teachable moment. Just this weekend, Nadia and I were getting ready to go on a picnic with one of my BFFs and her son, M, who is 4. We were in a corner deli often referred to as a ‘Bodega’ here in the city, getting food and drink for the afternoon outing.

 As background, just in case you didn’t know, Nadia and I live in upper Manhattan, which is not known for being ‘gay-friendly’. On the other hand, I have never experienced any outright discrimination in my neighborhood and I know a lot (!) of queer people who here so I walk very confidently around ‘hood. I never really think about what people are thinking of me so in some ways, I am a little oblivious, but happy.

 Anyhoo, this weekend we were all standing around the Bodega counter, when older black woman said to no one in particular “whose boy is this,” referring to Baby Jay. She looked at Nadia, my BFF and me and I looked back at her  a little sheepishly and she said to me, “Oh, this is your son. You can’t deny it. He looks just like you.” And I said, “well…” and Nadia gave me a look which seemed to say “don’t.”  

 I was about to say, “Well, he’s our son” but Nadia stopped me. Why? What was she thinking? Was she thinking, like I often do, that she didn’t want to deal with any “negative reactions.” Often times, I don’t come out to people I don’t know, not because I’m ashamed of who I am, but simply because I am just tired of dealing with other people’s bull. It can be exhausting to have to defend my life, when I’m really just trying to get a sandwich, you know?

 The woman went on to say, “You can’t deny your blood. He looks just like you. And they say that’s good luck when a boy resembles his mother.” After that we paid for our sandwiches and left.

 So that whole left me with a lot of mixed feelings.

 At first, I was really at a loss for words. Part of me was secretly thrilled that she thought he looked like me. Many people have said Baby Jay and I resemble one another and there is a part of me that experiences that as a badge of honor. I wanted to give birth to my own child for so long and now I have Jay and it just thrills me on some level that he is so gorgeous and wonderful and that looks like he could be my biological son.

 However, when we left the store, I heard Nadia say to Baby Jay, “you are my son too, don’t forget that.” And I felt horrible. I said to her “are you okay?”

 And she replied, “I don’t really care about what that woman said, but I’m worried about what will happen when Baby Jay get’s older. What will happen when he understands that he is adopted and how will he feel during those kinds of exchanges?”  

 Neither one of us wants him to feel ashamed of the fact that he has two moms and, of course, we don’t want him to feel shame about his adoption, so we do need to figure out what we are going to say to folks.

 It’s tricky because people really don’t have a right to know anything about my personal life; on the other hand, I want Baby Jay to be proud of who he is.

 What would you do?

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