A long time ago, like around the time we only had seven children, our state’s newspaper came to do a story on our family for National Adoption Day. Like I do every other media encounter, I hemmed and hawed over allowing anyone into our home, into our lives, in that way. I don’t like the kids to think we’re either famous or a passel of circus freaks. For this reason, we try to maintain a low profile. The author of this article seemed kind though and he had a genuine interest in highlighting adoption, especially older child adoption, and since Giggles had ShyGuy had just come home, we wanted to shine a spotlight on kids their age who still waited.
When the article came out, it was truly reflective of our family and how we lived our daily lives. I remember looking at the beautiful pictures that accompanied the online version of it and feeling so proud. Then, I clicked on the comments. I do this for every article online that I read. FPD and I joke about it. He tells me to stop, and like a bad addiction I can’t shake, I never listen. It’s like looking a bad car accident as you drive by. You just.can’t.stop.yourself. I can’t stop myself.
There were several positive comments about how lucky our kids are to have been chosen. You know my feelings about that. As untrue as the ‘lucky’ comments were, they came from a place of good intentions. I scrolled through, and saw it. There it was, the comment I feared most. The one that was like a punch to the gut. “Seven kids? Isn’t that excessive? When does your home become a group home or an orphanage? How can you possibly give each child the attention they deserve? When is enough enough?!?”
FPD told me not to let it bother me. I couldn’t help it. It did bother me, and it has bothered me for the last four years. This person, in one anonymous and seemingly innocuous comment, dismissed absolutely everything in my life that matters, everything that I fight, struggle, and pray for daily. Crushed, in one judgmental moment. And, to make it even worse, we’re not the only large adoptive family to have faced this comment. I heard it made to another family a couple of years later. I heard it happen, in person, and the person who made the comment had to listen to me, in person, go a little nuts. I heard the comment made again last week via Facebook to yet another large adoptive family.
Here’s the deal, if you have ever set foot inside an orphanage or group home, and I’ve been in my fair share, our home is nothing like it. By saying we are, you’re insulting the strength and courage of institutionalized children everywhere when you even mildly correlate what those kids live through with the posh lives my kids lead in comparison. There are some smaller group homes that do the best they can, most orphanages do too, but it will never be the same. Never. There are so many differences, some small, and some large.
In an orphanage, there is no quiet, cozy place to read your book.
Not here. We don’t just survive here. We thrive here, because most of the time, that’s what family is about, watching a child thrive. After four years of beating myself over the head with that comment, I’ve let it go. Now is the time to educate. It’s not the same. It never will be. Not in this house. Not in our home.
–FullPlateMom, who would love to go a lifetime without ever hearing that comparison again.