Even though my readers must feel as though I spend an inordinate amount of time talking about our current adoption on my blog, J. and I don't spend a lot of time talking about in real life. In fact, we have actually told very few people in person. On the face of it, this might seem odd. When a couple is expecting a child, whether through birth or adoption, usually that is all they talk about and can't wait to let people know. I know we were certainly this way with the first five or so.
Yet, once you hit a certain number of children, people's reactions start to change. Instead of big smiles and hearty congratulations, there is something else. The smiles become more forced... the congratulations (if they come at all), come after some moments of pausing words such as "um... ah... oh... " as the person's brain catches up to their emotions. There are awkward moments while the parents-to-be stand smiling and waiting and the responder hems and haws. Everyone always seems to leave those encounters with unsettled feelings. Enough of these encounters and you can understand why the parents become a little more hesitant to share their news.
Then, if you have reached a number of children that most people don't have, the reactions become a bit more extreme. This is especially true if the children which are coming into the family have some sort of special need. Since J. and I are actually quite excited (as well as a little scared and trepidatious... just as with every single one of our other children), these reactions become a bit disheartening. The disconnect between our excitement and others' shock can be jarring and a bit joy stealing and we try to limit our amount of exposure.
Let me give you an example. (And this experience is not unique to us. I know quite a few large adoptive families. It's a thing.)
J. runs into someone whom he knows on a professional basis. This person says, "Hey, is it true you are adopting again? Why didn't you say something?" So J. says, "Yes, two girls." The first and immediate reaction of his acquaintance is, "Are you guys crazy?" And J. replies, "To answer your first question, this is why." The conversation continued on from there.
J. and I are not saints. Far from it. J. and I are not super humans. Far from it. We are actually rather normal and dull people. We just happen to have a few children. And just like expectant parents everywhere, we anticipate and are excited for each of them. My public service announcement for the day is: If someone... anyone... regardless of how many children they have tells you they are expecting another child, there is one, and only one correct response. This is to smile broadly and say, "Congratulations!" This is done no matter your personal feelings on the subject.
The expectant parents of the world thank you.