Monday, November 23, 2009

The Adopted Mystery Guy

At a party this weekend, someone I met was telling me about this mysterious guy he knew a little bit, a fellow regular at a bar he went to a lot in his '20s. The guy would sit in a corner by himself, drawing and reading. He always had a tab, which his family would pay. The person at the party who was telling me about him found out that I know the family who owns the bar and asked me to find out about the mystery-guy, if he was still living and doing okay.

Today, I ran into a member of the family who owns the bar, so I asked him about the artistic fella I'd heard about at the party. He told me that the guy is basically homeless and has spent the last fifteen years sleeping on the back porch of the bar. He's very artistic and intelligent, and his family is very wealthy. Oh, and you know what else?

"He's adopted. Yeah, all the kids in that family were adopted."

Nice. And what does this have to do with the story? What does his having been adopted have to do with anything?

I wouldn't say that I got mad. But I was certainly exasperated by the realization that so many people still have the misperception that anyone who was adopted is "damaged goods" somehow, that any problem they face in their life can be chalked up to their being adopted, that any difficulties their family goes through also is due to the adoption.

Sometimes I feel like our family exists in a bubble of wonderful, understanding, compassionate, open-hearted people who love us all unconditionally. I truly feel this way 99.9% of the time, so it's somewhat of a shocker when I encounter someone who is holding on tightly to antiquated ideas about what it means to be adopted. It's hard for me to just brush it off. I know I need to prepare our child(ren) for the times that they will have encounters like the one I had today (and in case anyone thinks I'm simply being too sensitive, the person I talked to today is the same one who once told me and another adoptive mom, out of the blue, that he "could never love an adopted child as much as my own." Well, thanks for letting us know. I shook off the shock of hearing the boneheaded comment and let him know what a good thing it is that he's not adopting then).

This is why I get so excited when I see stories like this one, and I want to know more. Isn't there a book out there about successful and famous adoptees? Does such a think exist? If not, I hereby copyright the idea. I would very much like to give this book to the bonehead I talked to today.


mama becca said...

that's a tough one. while we're like you, surrounded by people who are wonderful and understanding of adoption, i still get the occasional comment from my grandparents... "is sam going to be okay? do you think his brain will function the same as leah and peter's? will he be messed up emotionally when he's older" ... this all happens because their neighbor's kid (adopted) burned down the family barn in 1960. because, say it with me, "he was adopted."
I'm sorry you had to experience that comment... I know it stings.

Emma said...

I had a conversation like that with my mother a couple of weeks ago. I told her we discuss whether we would try to adopt our third child. She ran down the list of sdopted kids she knows who have had a lot of problems. WHat she didn't bring up was the fact that my sister, her biological daughter, was a nut job during her teenage years 0- running away, cursing my parents out, throwing things at them. She came through it and it totally fine (ivy league graduate). If she were adopted people would have blamed her behavior on adoption.

emily said...

Love that guy, not the jerk at the bar, but Marcus.

I know many a screwed up bio-adult. Just hate that it seems a necessary thought to mention.

coffeemom said...

YOu know, this is a mindset we've seen for a long time (ok, 11 years since we had our first adoption). ONe of the keys that makes sense to me (and makes me kind of tend to rant at times) is that adoption is an EVENT, not an ongoing status and definition. And yeah, that perspective that is so pervasive in the world at large of somehow "less than" just makes me nuts...and again, slip into lecture/rant at warp speed. sigh