I'm proud of the way we have built and are extending our family through adoption. I am happy to stand up and shout about the massive difference adoption has made to someone who desperately needed and wanted a family. I'm talking about me. I was made whole by adopting.
While I remain happy talking about our family's less than conventional start, I am beginning to notice a change in smudge. With friends and family she is proud that we chose her. I've heard her shouting down another child with "my mummy and daddy chose me. Your mum had to take you." But with strangers and when she is less sure of herself she just wants to be the same as all the other 8 year old girls.
Going for an eye test really hit this home. Part of the form that the Optician was working through asked about family history. As I explained that we didn't know about her grandparent's, or even really her biological parents, ocular health as smudge is adopted I watched my confident girl shrink into the chair, her smile faltering.
Smudge wobbled her way through the eye test. No longer self assured enough to trust her instincts. Needing lots of reminding that she was doing brilliantly and that there are no right and wrong answers. My heart was fit to break. My words had done this.
What compounded the misery was my turn. G was on hand to take smudge off for sugar based compensation. Yes, she wanted specs and was not impressed with her near perfect vision. So I was on my own to have my eye test in peace. At which point the Optician decided that my daughter's history was suitable small talk and even asked what her story is. This is what people say when they are really asking me to shock them with the horror of my daughter's early years.
The tragedy of reasons my daughter needed to be removed from her birth family and placed into the care system is not something I discuss with my nearest and oldest friends. I will not be sharing incredibly private and revealing aspects of smudge's story to satisfy anyone's nosiness.
I left with a clean bill of eye health feeling wrung out. Filled with guilt that my need to be polite and answer all the questions left smudge hurting. Angry that people believe they have any right to smudge's story. Wondering how I align my feelings of pride that we are a family created by adoption with a genuine desire for normality, acceptance and not to be left feeling like a circus sideshow freak.
I remain happy to shout about our experiences with adoption. I will not treat it like a dirty secret. This does not mean that I will share sensitive information with nosy strangers. I'm a Mum, my first instinct is to protect my child.