When child 4 arrived it was obvious that he had not joined our family in the traditional manner. I remember walking home from school only a few days after he arrived, he was in his buggy and child 3 who was 8 at the time was chattering on about her day. Behind us was a mum and her similar aged daughter. I could hear their conversation. The little girl was telling her mum that child 3 had a new brother and the mum was laughing gently and indulgently explaining to her daughter that there was no way that I had been pregnant, had a baby and that baby was already a toddler without her knowing. I just stopped and laughed as well and explained that her daughter was right, we had just chosen a different way to add to our family. There were surprised gasps, hugs and congratulations and I felt happy.
In the beginning it was obvious to most that we had adopted and for the most part people were pleased, excited and happy for us. Over time that has changed. We have become a "normal" family unit. Two parents, four children, a dog, a couple of cats and some chickens. Adoption is not something we hide but we don't shout about either. The school staff know as he is in school and they need to be aware, as do those who clubs he attends other than that it really isn't anyone else's business.
Yesterday, I took child 4 to a class mates birthday party, I always stay, life is busy these days and I don't know very many of the parents in his class, many of them are new, their eldest child having just started school. Birthday party's are a great way to meet over a cup of tea and have a chat or just catch up with old friends, whilst our children play.
Child 4 was having a great time running around and then pass the parcel. Then it was time for the entertainer, a magician. All the children were sitting down in front of him vibrating with excitement. When the entertainer announced that he was videoing the show and wanted to check it was ok. Child 4 circumstances are that he cannot have his picture on social media, in the press or on TV. Child 4 was sitting waiting for the show, understanding everything that was said and I was surrounded by parents, many of whom don't know that child 4 was adopted! I had to ask in front of everyone why it was being video'd. So I could make the decision that was best for my son. Of course the video was for the magicians website. He said that if I wasn't happy I could pull child 4 from his seat at the front and sit him at the back over to the left. In that split second I chose to leave it. Child 4 was watching this whole interaction, confusion marring his face, parents were either frowning with confusion or looking at me with sympathy. I just wanted to hide away and deal with the myriad of emotions that slammed into me. Fury for being placed in this position and what if I wasn't there, sorrow because this isn't how life should be for any child, disappointment in myself for possibly not handling the situation right, embarrassment for having to be that parent. So, I sat at the back, my hands wrapped around a lukewarm cup of tea thinking about how I could have handled the situation better and what was I going to do. Someone came over to check I was ok and of course I said I was fine, I couldn't
talk yet, I didn't know what would come out of my mouth but, it wouldn't have been kind. In reality it wasn't anyone's fault, people just don't understand the nature of adoption, if they haven't experienced it how can they know. My job as an adoptive parent means that I have to educate those I come into contact with and this magician needed to understand how his ignorance and thoughtlessness has affected us and that for some adoptive parents it could have been worse. I hate these discussions, I don't want a confrontation, I don't want to share my sons story, I don't want to embarrass the person I speak to but sometimes we have to do the right thing. I was calm and kind when I explained our situation and the difficult and embarrassing position he put me in. Of course he was very apologetic, he hadn't thought and next time he will speak to the parents in the days leading up to the party so they can check with parents of the party guests. The parents were very apologetic they hadn't thought either.
Do you know what none of the apologies made me feel any better, it was done, saying sorry doesn't erase what happened. Maybe that's why I am still sad and cross, I will move on, I don't have time to linger over these bumps in the road. I don't think I could have handled it differently I just wish that we hadn't had to handle it at all.