a little taste

I attended a book club meeting last night. We had a great time discussing South of Broad by Pat Conroy (I enjoyed it but didn’t love it) and eating, drinking, and chatting.

One of my book club friends, C, is very inquisitive about our adoption. She always makes a point to ask how things are going, or if we’ve heard any news. As usual, she asked what was happening with the adoption. I told her that if the current pace of referrals continue, we’re looking at some time around June for a referral, but of course I noted that it could be sooner or later. I feel like I’ve explained what a referral is many times, but I still often get the question that C asked next (although not in the same words). She said, “So is that when you’ll acquire the baby?” [Emphasis added by me.]

Now, I know what she was trying to ask. She was trying to ask if that was when we would be traveling to Ethiopia to bring our child home with us. But, she chose the word acquire, which really rubbed me the wrong way. To me, acquire is a term you use when making a transaction, or obtaining a thing. Not when adopting a child.

I was very proud of myself in that moment, because I talked to her about the use of that word. I said, “Now, C, we don’t like to use the word acquire when we’re talking about adoption.” I was very friendly about it, and it made her chuckle a bit. She said, “Well, I suppose that’s not a great word,” and I went on to talk about how acquire could imply a purchase (and adoption is most certainly not a purchase) and is mostly used in terms of obtaining things, not bringing a child into a family. She totally got it.

I was proud of myself for addressing the comment and not just letting it slide. I think C was glad I said something, too. I know that she and certainly 90% of our other friends don’t know much about adoption, and that most of what they learn is coming from us directly. I also know that this is just a tiny taste of the types of questions we will get for the next however many years (probably forever!) and that I need to be prepared and give appropriate responses, depending on the person asking the question and the situation (like whether our child is with me at the time). I felt like this was a good start, though.

As an added aside, at our meeting last night, we selected the books we will read in 2011. I’m excited that my suggestion, Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese, made the cut [no pun intended]. I can’t even count the number of people who have read this book and suggested it to me, both because it’s a great book and because part of it is set in Ethiopia. We like to pick themes from the books we read in terms of the food for our meetings, so come March (when we meet to discuss this book), the ladies will be coming to our house for an Ethiopian meal. Let’s hope we learn how to cook Ethiopian food in the meantime!

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14 Responses to a little taste

  1. Meg B says:

    I am very proud of you. You handled that so well, very naturally and everyone is better for it! We’ve had really just one awkward adoption conversation and I froze…then Tim dealt with it. I have a long way to go. (and good luck with the Ethiopian food–I would suggest buying the injera. A friend tried to make his and it was not only a really long process, but the result was more heavy pancake-like than spongy awesomeness). Just a thought!

  2. Jenny says:

    way to go!!!! that was a very strange choice of words… sounds so clinical or something… :\ anyway, proud of you!!! good luck on the cooking! can’t wait to hear how it goes 🙂

  3. Kristin says:

    Cutting for Stone is awesome. I just finished it and think you’ll really enjoy it. There is lots of Ethiopian culture just kind of mixed in and thrown around. I’ll be interested to hear if others in your book club like it as much. I’m not sure if I really liked the story, or just because of our adoption, liked hearing those little tidbits about life in Ethiopia. Like Meg, I also recommend buying the injera. My husband tried it and it was awful.

  4. Liz says:

    Good for you! People say the strangest things, it really won’t be the first time you’ll have to deal with something like this…

    Cutting for Stone is on my list to read, I’ll be interested to hear what you think of it.

  5. Jennifer says:

    I love this blog. Check it out. I also have the book she is using on her blog.

    http://afaranjecooksethiopian.blogspot.com/

    It might help you with some recipes.

  6. Zoe says:

    You handled that very well. I haven’t heard “acquire” yet… something to wait for! 🙂

    I’ll put that book on my list.

  7. Sarah says:

    Thanks for the book tip! I am SO out of the what’s-good-to-read book loop right now. I’ll put it in my list.

    And I think you handled your situation great. I ‘m so glad it was positive for you so your feel confident about doing this in the future…I think most people mean well but haven’t thought through the finer points of talking about adoption. I think we’ll be having conversations like this for awhile…

  8. Jenn says:

    I’m glad you were able to see your friend’s intention despite her language choice. Like you said, I think most people unfamiliar with adoption (including myself) stumble over the language even though we want to celebrate the idea of a family coming together.

  9. Emily B. says:

    Go you for speaking up!!! I have to say that I have been surprised with some of the questions I have received so far. I am mostly surprised with how nosey people are. And thank you for reminding me that I need to put Cutting for Stone on my Christmas list. I definitely want to read it!

  10. What a great response to your friend. I try to be somewhat compassionate when people use inappropriate terms b/c most of the time, people are just ignorant of the idea that certain words can be offensive in adoption. Very rarely does someone actually mean to be rude or insensitive. But that can be hard to remember in the moment. And you did such a great job of keeping your cool!

  11. Kelly says:

    I think your response was perfect, Kelly. It is strange with adoption how words matter, but they really do. I LOVED Cutting For Stone and I know you will, too. That guy is SUCH a great writer.

  12. Christine says:

    Bravo Kelly! That was a great job handling that conversation! I find conversations with friends the hardest… I need to take a few cues from you!

  13. Robin says:

    Great job addressing the comment, Kelly! I’ve seen that issue mentioned in some adoption books/websites I’ve been reading (the whole adoption as buying a baby thing) but I’ve never heard a “real life” example. You handled it very well.. 🙂

  14. sue says:

    you are awesome! i couldn’t help but chuckle at you setting her wording straight – i’m sure it wasn’t funny for you at the time, but the light hearted way you did it sounds perfect.

    i’m looking forward to hearing about your ethiopian cooking practices!!

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