I was flying back from Orland0 (sob, cry, weep, gnash teeth) and what I wanted to do was sit down and read my book. There was much drama on my way back home mainly due to a confusion that apparently I don’t know the days of the week. (Yes, homeschool is going great, thanks for asking….) At any rate, I reached my seat on the plane after nine hours of being completely flustered. I had my book in my hand, I’m squishing myself in the middle seat, and I just want to read my book and give breathing a try.
Not the lady next to me. She wanted to talk, and not just chit chat, she wanted to GET.TO.KNOW each other. I realized that we were having a deep conversation when I learned not just her daughter’s first and middle name and who she was named after, but also when she started her period. I kid you not.
So then we start talking about my kids and I can play that game for awhile. My kids are little and cute and I only have a million pictures and two million stories to go along with every situation. My daughter is actually adopted (did ya know?) and that came up in conversation and ERRRRRRRRRGH! (that’s the sound of screeching brakes) now we had something else to talk about beside her daughter’s menstrual cycle.
She knows “a friend of a friend of a friend” and that’s generally the first clue that whatever they say next has the possibility to be exciting. (snort)
I was explaining that Boohoo was 2ish when we brought her home and she says, “Two? Oh, so she has a birth mother then?” The lesson learned here is that if you are adopted before the age of two then you have probably popped up from the grass like a daisy. No birth required.
Here was the winner though. She asked if I just left them for the weekend to hit the beach, which sounds like a hella good idea, but there really is much more substance to Orlando than just relaxing (no many how many margaritas are consumed). I try to briefly BRIEFLY explain trauma and adoption because oh my gosh, I just want to read my book! Or isn’t there a seatbelt demonstration to watch? Shouldn’t someone be asking me if I want tomato juice, soda, or a coffee?
Clearly, whatever my explanation of trauma was it was wholly insufficient and she wasn’t feeling imaginative enough to be able to connect the dots as to what would be traumatizing about adoption. (I don’t know, maybe I’m just so thoroughly immersed these days all I see is the trauma…) But we needed to keep talking this through, in her opinion.
“Trauma? I guess it’s just that bad to be from Ethiopia, right?”
And now I’m writing this post from jail because I may have temporarily gone insane, assaulted her, and been hauled off the plane that I worked so hard to get onto by a burly air marshal. Well, that’s how it went in my head.
In reality, I did one of the faces that I use on my children that stops my eyes from popping out of my head. It’s a very very slow blink with a deep breath before I open my eyes again. Usually, by the time I’ve got my eyes open my children have scattered, but she was still sitting there. Just sitting there assuming that being from Ethiopia, being Ethiopian, is a reason to be traumatized. And I really wasn’t trying to be a snot, but come on people! Could we just be a little less small-minded and ignorant than that?
I told her no. Ethiopia was beautiful. Is it a struggling country, sure, but it’s a wonderful place and I’d love to go back someday. My daughter’s trauma is because she had to leave Ethiopia! Her trauma is that she had to leave her mother! Her trauma was poverty like we can’t imagine living with as we sit on a plane to fly us around our vacation destinations. Her trauma is not Ethiopia. Her trauma is adoption.
We didn’t talk a lot after that. I started reading. I watched a seatbelt demonstration. I drank nasty airplane coffee. I wasn’t angry. I was a little offended on behalf of my daughter and Ethiopia. I hope I wasn’t rude. I think I was shocked that there is so little awareness about adoption that people will assume it was the country of her mother and not the loss of her mother that has broken her little heart. There’s a lot of educating to be done!