This Week’s Teachable Moment: The Ones Who Love You
Posted Feb 22 2010 6:46pm
Okay, as I’ve said in several recent blog posts, Nadia and I just returned from a trip to the Caribbean (see gratuitous photos to prove it!) where we spent time with my family. I was really, really nervous about introducing my conservative, Christian family to my wife and telling them about the adoption but, I have to admit, I actually learned something last week.
First, let me say, the one of my aunts, in particular, was really great. She spent a lot of time with us and went to a lot of trouble to make us both feel comfortable. And please keep in mind that I had not seen her in over 10 years. She drove us around site seeing and really went out of her way so that we could experience all of the local venues and foods the island had to offer.
Nadia was really funny because she was sitting in the back seat of my aunt’s car for most of the time (by choice) and she would often reach around my seat belt and grab my arm, without my aunt noticing, to give my arm a tug. I later learned that this was her way of encouraging me to ‘dish’ with my aunt. She confessed that it was excrutiating to sit in the back seat and listen to ’small talk’ when there seemed to be so much to talk about.
At any rate, in true form, I waited to the last possible moment to talk to my aunt about the adoption; and I do mean the last possiblemoment. The night before we were scheduled to leave on an 8AM flight off of the island, we had diner at the beach at a wonderful, intimate restaurant. We had wine, followed by appetizers, and then dinner, during which time, Nadia kept kicking me under the table and then–finally– after the dinner plates were cleared and before dessert came, I began.
“So how does adoption work here,” I asked my aunt, trying to sound nonchalant. And she responded with a very interesting story about how she had always wanted to adopt another child after her husband died. She went into about 20 minutes of detail, but to make a long story short, she told me how she went to an orientation and filled out some preliminary paper work but then she never heard from that agency again. As follow-up, she made several inquires but she was never able to make it to the next level, despite the fact that the adoption workers kept telling her that they had mailed her all the forms necessary to move forward. While she was talking, I kept asking her a lot of detailed questions about her experience, and Nadia would look at me with glaring looks, as if to say, ‘Get to the point. Stop procrastinating!”
I’m not sure if I was dragging the whole thing out at this point because I was enjoying Nadia’s torture, or because I was still anxious about telling my aunt (probably a little bit of both) but I finally took a deep breathe and said, “well I’m asking because Nadia and I are going to adopt a child.” Exhale.
And then it went something like this:
Aunt: Really, what age?
Aunt: “boy or girl?”
Us: We don’t get to choose.
Aunt: Are you going to adopt a child from Haiti?
Us: Well, we would love to but we can’t because we can’t adopt internationally.
Aunt: Oh, really? They won’t let two women adopt internationally?
Us: No, but domestically it won’t be a problem.
And it was really a very mundane conversation at that point. In the end, once all of her questions were answered, she told us that she “really, really hoped that it would go okay for us. And that she was happy for us.”
It wasn’t a big deal.
And I learned something that night.
First and foremost, I learned that I wasn’t the first person to think about adoption in my very conservative, blood-is-thicker-than-water family. After our conversation, I thought of my December post about The Blanket and how I had worked myself into a frenzy feeling all nervous about how my family would respond about the adoption and I learned that if I take more risks, maybe I will get more rewards. I also learned that, as Toshi Reagan says, “the ones who love you, never have to try.”