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Friday, November 6, 2009

Anonymity

Or maybe this post should be titled "Absence of Anonymity." Of course I knew, when we welcomed Charlie into our lives, that from that point forward we would be a family who doesn't look like all the others, and who consequently gets noticed more in public. I knew it intellectually, but not realistically if that makes any sense.

The other night we were at dinner, and as we were leaving the restaurant, a woman held the door for us. When I told her thank you she said,

"Oh you're welcome. I've seen you guys around. Yeah, I think over at that other place as she pointed to another diner across the parking lot. The baby's getting big."

I made some common response about how fast they grow, but as I did so, I was actually thinking that it is really strange to be known by people who I had never even noticed before. And I think I'm generally fairly observant when we're out and about.

Then not too long ago, we had a woman at the store tell us she remembered us, and that it didn't look like the baby had grown at all since the last time she saw us. Now call me crazy, but even if that thought crossed my mind, I would never speak it out loud to a baby's mother! Not that I care, because my main thought after this comment was that she must be clueless to not have noticed how big Charlie had gotten...but whatever.

Another instance happened at Applebees when a waitress I could have sworn we've never seen before said she remembered us from the last time we were there. I realize this post makes it sound as though we go out to eat every night, but actually these encounters are generally months apart. Apparently we make a lasting impression on people no matter where we go, which I guess can be both good and bad.

Being known in the places we frequent is interesting. To be honest, I'm still trying to figure out how I feel about this new aspect of our lives. Right now I'm not bothered by it as much as I think I will be when I have to try to find a way to explain to little Charlie why people notice us the way they do. It's not as though this is a small town. We live in a good size community where it's generally pretty easy to remain unknown if that's your desire.

After we left the other night, I jokingly said to Michael, "Now what are we going to do when our son's all grown up and is no longer around all the time to make us famous?" I'll be honest in saying there is a part of me that enjoys the attention of being noticed. Primarily because I'm so very proud of our family, and I love to talk about adoption any time I have a chance...but also because there is something nice about not being just another face amongst a sea of faces.

I know this post is slightly jumbled, and not entirely making sense, but these experiences have been happening more and more often. I want to capture all the nuances of my feelings before too much time goes by...


14 comments:

Denver Jen said...

That's so interesting how people remember you. It would definitely catch me off guard and especially since it's happened routinely now. I thought about comments that would happen but not that you would be such a memorable family but it certainly makes sense. There is so much to think about in adoption but I guess it will just give you more chances as you said to discuss adoption and be a proud mom. I can tell by that smile that Charlie will charm his way into everyone's hearts and hopefully your fame will be a good thing:). Really interesting post.

Mary B. said...

In one of my education classes (and I may be totally reversing this so if you've learned this too and I'm wrong, please set me straight) we were learning about memory and recall and I think that we learned that the human brain remembers by similarities but recalls by differences. If that's in fact correct, your family is "different" and therefore memorable. I actually think it's kind of cool! Consider it your job to be role models and spokespeople for how wonderful adoption is! And watch out for the paparazzi!

Richele said...

I'm generally rather introverted when I'm out and about - in contrast with how I am with those I know - and I kind of like to blend in.

We don't quite do that anymore.

I'm going to try to channel your optimism and do a better job of feeling OK about this myself ... thanks for putting this feeling into words!

Trace said...

We adopted Lovey Girl and she's the same race as us and everything so it's not exactly the same. People ALWAYS notice her and made similar comments. Freqently, I've been out shopping and someone will say hello and say they remembered us from story time at the library or the toddler park. I of course have no memory of meeting the person. The different race thing may make him memorable, but before automatically assuming that it could be because he's really cute and the majority of people like cute well behaved babies.

Debbie B said...

At first you'll just be able to tell Charlie it's because of his winning smile or something like that. Which will make him feel like a super hero I'm guessing.

Being that role model and spokespereson for adoption can get very tiring sometimes. And it puts you on guard when you are out to make sure you show a good example. That's when we start judging ourselves too much. Hmmm, never thought about that side of adopting transracially before either.

Glad for now you're able to enjoy the extra attention. Maybe in a few years you won't be so unique in your area.

Blessed said...

I f eel ya...we sometimes get the random " she doesn't look like you" or " what is she" ( ethnically) and I say she's a baby shes MY BABY!

And being a little famous is kinda cool anyways ;)

Anonymous said...

Hi, I don't know you but I find your blog from another adoption blog. I am the mother of six children. Three are adopted, three are not. Three are black, three are white. I understand what you mean about drawing attention. While I cannot say I always comfortable with, I do always try to use those moments to talk up trans-racial adoption. And I always try to keep in mind that my reactions are teaching my children how to react.....Anyway you have a beautiful family. Enjoy your sweet baby boy!!

Maya's Musings said...

I was just thinking about this...our daughter is lighter skinned than me and my husband and she also has much lighter hair. People never ever assume she is adopted, but we always get asked "who does she look like?" Now if she was darker then I think would people assume more often that she was adopted. It's just an interesting part of human nature I guess.

Ok, I don't know if that made any sense, just wanted you to know that this is probably something most of us adoptive mamas think about :)

Nancy said...

Yeah, I get it. It's to be expected that you stand out, which is why people remember you. At the same time, you realize you are never going to blend, which is hard sometimes. This is something Charlie will have to contend with for the rest of his life. That's not a bad thing, but it is something you probably should start preparing him for now.

AJH said...

We too, stand out in public...we have two adopted children 3 months apart that are both different races...so while they could age & size pass for twins, they are very obviously NOT twins! But it took me a LONG time to get used to people actually talking to me like they knew me when I had no clue who they were and where I had seen them before. I even had a lady at Wal.Mart say that she is so excited she works there and I shop there so she can continue to watch the kids grow up! They are 3 now and it does get better, either people are just getting used to us being around or it is almost like a pat on the back when comments do come...I love being a Mommy! I also love your blog....he is such a doll!

Jamie said...

hi melba :)
i can completely appreciate how you're feeling. i think being noticed and recognized at this point is a wonderful way to bring up the topic of adoption and to be able to share your wonderful story with the world. now, when charlie gets older it might not feel as wonderful depending on what his reaction is to it. (not his reaction to adoption, but just his reaction to your family always being noticed). you have a wonderful way with words and your love for charlie is beyond description. i know you will be able to find the right way to talk with charlie about this. :)

on the other hand. after we adopted i find that we get "he looks just like you" from strangers. our family does not stand out as different or unique and sometimes i wish we did. :) after all we went through and the years and years we worked trying to build our family.....i want people to know that we're not "just like everyone else" that our family is unique and different and that this motherhood thing didn't come easily for me. but....we blend in.....and that's good, but sometimes i wish we didn't. i wonder how many women look at me pushing milo in his stroller and think "ugh, she's one of those fertiles where everything has come so easy for her". :) in some ways i wish my scars were visible....

thanks for the topic melba :)

hope548 said...

This is a really interesting post and something I hadn't thought of. I'm glad you have a good attitude about it, because I know it must be slightly awkward for you. All you see when you look at Charlie is your son, and like you said, you thought of these things before, but now you're actually experiencing them for real.

Jamie said...

ummm, just to clarify....i am in no way referring to my son as a "scar" :) the last sentence kind of sounded like that. :)
sometimes i just wish we looked "differnt" so that it would provoke conversation about how we built our family. obviously i love talking about it. :)

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