I loved Emma the moment I saw her. The bond between us was almost instant. So much so that I often forget she’s adopted. But every now and then a situation arises and I’m reminded that she’s not our biological daughter.
Children often point out to Mark and I that Emma’s black, but it’s done in the most child-like of ways, with innocence oozing from their inquisitive minds. Mark and I were at a kiddies party and Mark was pushing her on the swing. A little girl went up to Mark and asked if that was his daughter. Mark answered yes. Not happy with the response, she eyed them both out a little while longer and then said to Mark “you do know she’s black, right?” On another occasion a little girl asked me if I was Emma’s mommy. I said yes. She then sat down next to us and proceeded to ask me a few more questions, like “did her mommy not have enough money to look after her?” and “now that she lives with you are you going to buy her a PlayStation?” I’ve also been asked by a seven year old if Emma is adopted. When I said yes, she went “Cool, my best friend at school’s also adopted!”
The first time I took Emma for her check up at the paediatrician he asked me if she was allergic to penicillin. I couldn’t understand why he looked a little confused at my reply, which was “Well I am so there’s a good chance she is…” He gently smiled at me and said that the bond we have is amazing. Very tactful I thought, he probably thinks I’m a complete moron
But some reminders are a little harsher than others, like the first time Mark and I were out in a public place with her and a woman accused me of ripping Emma away from her ‘real’ mother, destroying their bond. Or more recently when I was asked by someone if ‘the black child has AIDS’, pointing to Emma in the shopping trolley. There’ve been times when I’ve taken these comments to heart and have wondered whether we did the wrong thing, bringing Emma into a ‘white house’. I worry whether I’m equipped to raise Emma like she deserves.
We’ve had mixed responses from family, friends and strangers about adopting Emma and I knew some of these relationships would be tested. Some friends couldn’t understand why we would adopt a black baby and seemed unable to accept it. The discomfort they felt was like the proverbial white elephant in the room, or in our case, the black child in the room. As with the circle of life, those friends have slowly disappeared out of my life and I accept that.
On the up side, some friendships have been cemented since Emma arrived. My true friends have accepted her with wide open loving arms and for that I am grateful. They don’t pity me because I adopted a baby and they don’t feel sorry for Emma because she’s adopted. They see a gorgeous little girl who brings out the very best in both Mark and I.
I’ve also been blessed with amazing new friends. People I wouldn’t have met if it weren’t for Emma. On Saturday at Serendipity Nicki and I were having a chat and she asked me if Emma’s feeling better. I told her that the doctor thinks she might be asthmatic. After a little while Nicki giggled and told me she had just had a porridge-brain moment. “I was just about to ask whether you or Mark have asthma!”
No Nicki, it wasn’t a porridge-brain moment. You have no idea how your acceptance of Emma made me feel. Thank you for that!