Monday, September 27, 2010

She Said WHAT?!?!

As my readers peeps are aware, although I gestated and got sliced open to have my daughter, she is not the product of my 40 something ovaries. I have zero shame about that. In fact, I’m kind of proud of the obstacles that were overcome to bring her into the world and make me a mom. I have every intention of being open with Sunshine about her conception. Even though she’s only 10 months old (on Wednesday!), I sometimes talk to her about all the people who helped me become her mom—Aunt Kathy (our embryo donor), a whole bunch of doctors in two countries, and all her internet aunties who were so supportive during the process. But still … I am sometimes at a loss as to what to say to random people who ask where she gets her red hair. Right now it’s not that important, but as she gets older and understands more, I want to be able to respond in a way that’s both truthful, but simple and not invasive. I would welcome and greatly appreciate suggestions.

A little over a week ago I had an encounter that still has me shaking my head in disbelief. We went to synagogue for Yom Kippur services. We were hanging out in a hallway, since Sunshine was being too noisy and wouldn’t sit still. Apparently lots of people couldn’t sit still, as there was quite a bit of foot traffic. One older woman walked by a few times. She was obviously captivated by my cute, social baby, and chatted with us. Then she leaned in to Sunshine and said, “You must look like your Daddy, since you don’t look at all like your Mommy.” WTF! But I took a deep breath, and since she didn’t say it with any malice, I explained about Sunshine’s conception. Her reaction to this was fine, and she told me she knew someone whose sister was a gestational carrier for her. (Of course she didn’t use that term. We can’t expect outsiders to know all the lingo.) THEN (and here’s what I really am having trouble letting go of) she looked at Sunshine and said, “She’s got a shiksa face.” Again, none of this was said with any malice, but what in the world would make her think this was in any way appropriate?

The thought of comments like this causing Sunshine any angst in the future is awful. She is my daughter. Period. As any donor conceived child is their parents’ child. Or any child who is adopted. We know that. MOST people know that. But how do we protect our children from that minority of ignorant or thoughtless people?

20 comments:

Ashley said...

I am also a single mother by choice to a baby (4 months old) through the beauty of embryo adoption. He also has red hair (and I do not). I've gotten a few comments about how he must get his red hair from his father. I just simply say, "actually, he's adopted." That way I don't have to get into any of the details or discuss how he doesn't have a dad. That usually ends the questions, and it's easy enough for everyone to get it without going into the whole story. Of course, people who know us know the whole story, and like you, I'm already working on how to raise my son with that knowledge from the very beginning. It just makes it easier when dealing with strangers at the store, for instance.

Baby Smiling In Back Seat said...

People seem to mean the shiksa/goy thing in different ways. Many people, Jewish and not, have said to my husband that he doesn't look Jewish. Many of them seem to have meant it as a compliment, which certainly doesn't make it any better.

Dora said...

Ashley, thanks for your comment. I hope this doesn't offend you (or anyone who has adopted a child), but I don't consider my daughter adopted at all. And as she gets older, I don't want her to be confused. In my opinion (and legally), adoption involves a living child. A batch of embryos were (lovingly) donated to me. One out of SEVEN transferred managed to implant and grow. The word adoption is never used when referring to donor egg or donor sperm, why should donor embryo be any different?

BabySmiling, weird! You're all MOT to me. You, too! :-)

battynurse said...

Ok so I don't know what that word is but I've noticed that it is often people who are somewhat "elderly" who will say something rather unappropriate in a kind way. In the past I've just always sort of smiled and nodded. I can't say that I really know any good responses either. I will say that as an adopted child I don't remember ever being bothered by comments about who I may have looked like.

Magpie said...

Oy. Why can't people keep their nasty thoughts to themselves?

Kristin said...

Wow, people say the most clueless things.

Navigating The Rapids said...

My daughter is bi-racial, and I think people are a little more careful with that one. However the last person who asked the question "Is her dad white", I responded, does it matter? Makes for an uncomfortable silence but later on I hope L will understand that she is loved, and how she came to be should not matter to anyone.

Orodemniades said...

Nice. I so get where you're coming from. I'm mixed race but identify as black, while my son is white with blue eyes and dark blond hair. I've already gotten a few 'when was he adopted' questions as well as the obvious looks and glances of 'oh, that little boy really loves his sitter!'.

Yeah. My (white) husband is completely oblivious to all of this and thinks the Chieftain will Have No Problems as he gets older. I already know he's going to get stick from friends and strangers about me, but what can you do but live your life?

Genkicat said...

I confess to having to google the word to understand your post completely. And yep - OMG! I'm sorry that happened.

As SMC's I think we will all come across a version of this at some point. So far, all I've gotten are some comments about whether my daughter looks more like me or her dad. Which is pretty innocent I think.

I'm not sure how I would deal with a comment that comes across as mean - as this one did for you.

existere said...

I don't have any answers, but I think it's a good thing you are asking the questions.

Tiara said...

Yikes! Even without malice, the lady's comments are completely inappropriate!

Bionic Baby Mama said...

on the other hand, i am 100% shiksa, but the lubavitchers won't believe me.

people say amazingly dumb shit, don't they?

Brenda said...

Ohhh. I cannot believe what people say sometimes! Even though I worry about this b/c we conceived via an ED, I thought that I would share a story of my family. My brother surprisingly ended up with red hair in a family of all brunettes. If you dug back far enough in the family tree there were redheads, but that is too much information for strangers. So, when people asked where he got his red hear from, Mom just said it was a gift and that we must have gotten really lucky!

I've used something similar when I was preg. with the boys and people would ask if twins ran in my family. I would reply, "well, they do now!"

Selmada said...

Wow. Really, wow.

I don't hide that I used DE/DS, but its not the first thing out of my mouth when people comment about the boys. In fact, of all those who know and knew the entire process, only one seems even remotely curious.

Everyone continues to tell me how much the boys look like me (I dont see it). The only question I get is on the sperm donor and how tall he must be (I'm short, they aren't).

I plan to be open and honest about their origins and have never lied about it. But I do limit who I volutarily tell right now. Not because of shame at all, but because as the boys get older, they will understand parts but not enough of the comments and questions. I want them to learn from me about their origins, in words the express how wonderful it is and how wanted they were. People can say the most thoughtless things at the worse times.

DaisyGal said...

um, how do you respond to that...with your mouth open wondering if "WTF did you just say to me?" is going to fall out????

Sorry, but I was hurt FOR YOU by that statement, how can people be so callous with their words. I am so sorry she said that...to you, with Sunshine there. "Totally inappropriate"!!!!!

HUGS to you! Sunshine is all you...no matter what.

Sam said...

Wow. I get comments about the origin of my toddler's blue eyes and curls. I have blue eyes and curly hair. Sometimes I straighten my hair, but generally it is a poofy mess. I think people just don't pay any attention to what comes out of their mouths. In your situation, I would say something like, "Her grandfather has red hair." If they are a stranger, they don't need to know, and will never know otherwise.

luna said...

wow. the nerve. totally inappropriate. I would have wanted to say something rude about one of her children. (like wow, he's really going to have a big nose, isn't he?) but that's just me reacting.

aside from the judgment -- which stemmed directly from your sharing her story -- "shiksa" is used as a derogatory term, isn't it?

it's hard to know how to respond to these things, isn't it? I get it sometimes too, with my light haired, fair skinned, strawberry blond baby when I am olive skinned. I usually think of something clever afterwards.

another thing, I'm learning when to share and when to not. I'm usually always happy to talk about how our daughter came to us, but there is a time and place for sharing, and I now consider motive for asking too. plus now she's at the point where she can understand more, so I hold her story closer now.

S.I.F. said...

What the heck is wrong with people?!? Seriously, the stupidity of seemingly well meaning people baffles me sometimes.

What did you say to her when she said that?!?

Malea said...

I think the fact that you were at a synagogue led the woman to assume some things.And rightfully so,don't you think?

I'm no expert on Judaism, but aren't you only Jewish if your born of a Jewish woman? That's why Jewish woman who use donor eggs prefer they come from a woman who is ethically Jewish so that the child will be welcomed into the covenant? Sunshine isn't Jewish so that's why the woman referred to her as a non-Jew {shiska],right? Because of her origin which you explained. jus sayin...

Dora said...

Actually, Malea, you're wrong on both counts in your comment. Sunshine WAS born to a Jewish woman. Me. She is Jewish. As for using a Jewish egg donor, Rabbis have gone back and forth on this. There is no consensus. A friend, who is not Jewish, but is married to a Jewish man and plans to raise her children as Jews, had to have a conversion ceremony for them. I did not. She was welcomed in the faith in a naming ceremony (the female equivalent of a bris).

As for what the woman said, she did not say Sunshine wasn't Jewish, she said she had a non-Jewish face. Which is just plain rude.