Monday, February 17, 2014

Thoughts on "What Not to Say."

Ah, the blogosphere -- everybody's got a soap box, and nobody's afraid to use it.  Well, it's my turn. 

And I know it's going to be controversial.

There's a "thing" in adoption blogging -- something that's even made it to internet news outlets like HuffPo and  Bloggers like to make lists -- everyone knows that.  And the type of list that adoptive parents like to make is the "What Not to Say to Adoptive Parents" list.  And I'm here to argue that those lists are an issue.

Oh, I get why people make them -- everyone who is adopting/has adopted/wants to adopt has had people say "dumb things" or ask "dumb questions" and we're all pretty sick of it.  Personally, if one more person asks why we aren't adopting from the Philippines (Papa Beast is Filipino), I might lose what's left of my sanity. 

Actually, no, that's not true.  Because I've gotten used to it, and I don't even have to think of what to say before, "The wait is long and we're not eligible anyway," comes rolling off my tongue.

And that's the thing really.  No matter what you do in life, people are going to question it.  Did you decide to be a stay at home wife and mother?  Yup, people are going to make ignorant comments and ask silly questions.  Decide not to complete your college degree?  Prepare for the floodgates to open.  Do you and your husband make the choice to attend the Latin Mass, which most people believe is a thing of the past?  You better be ready for some Grade A flack.

All that, without even getting into what happens when you marry outside your country of origin and get to endure an interview designed to discover whether or not you have entered into a "green card marriage" or a "real marriage" and then, after the interview, having your own lawyer say, "I know you're planning to adopt, but you really should try to get pregnant -- it'll help with the immigration case."

None of that is fun, but sometimes being a grown up isn't fun. 

And sometimes you have to deal with people who annoy you, get in your way, slow you down, etc.  This isn't the exclusive domain of adoptive parents, sadly.  We have all found ourselves behind the driver who decides to balance the checkbook at a red light and forgets to go when it turns green.  We've all had some assumptions made about us that turn out to be false -- like people assuming that I speak Spanish because of my last name, which I got from my Filipino husband who doesn't speak Spanish either.

You can't change the whole world to think like you, read your mind, etc, etc.  There will always be people who see our last name and expect us to be Spanish speakers.  There will always be people who hear the word "Kazakhstan" and think "Borat."  And there will always be people who ask you why you can't have "your own children."

The part we can control is how we react.

Personally, I have some people (my husband, my parents, my close friends) who I know will listen to me vent and then help me laugh it off. Because, in the end, that's all you can do.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Kazakhstan in Sochi

The thing I wait four years for is finally here -- the Winter Olympics.  Oh, sure, I love the Summer Games, too, especially the gymnastics (Go Aliya Mustafina!), but figure skating is my first love.  I used to compete locally when I lived in Northern California, and I've been a life long fan of the sport ever since I first saw Gordeeva and Grinkov in 1994.

This year, though, there is a little something extra exciting about the Olympics.  Between it being in Russia -- a country and culture I have always loved -- and the excitement of the new Team Figure Skating event, there is plenty of reason for excitement.  But there's something more, too.  This year, we are rooting for Kazakhstan, wherever we can.

Denis Ten has a good shot at a medal in the Men's event.  His silver medal performance at Worlds last year was a true joy to watch -- he even won the free skate portion.  This season has been a bit more rocky for him -- but I have faith that he will peak at the right time.

Also from Kazakhstan (by birth, at least), though representing Russia, is the lovely and talented young ice dancer Elena Ilinykh.  She and her partner Nikita Katsalapov were among the winners of the Team Figure Skating event.  They will go down in history as being part of the first team to win it!  While they sometimes struggle with consistency, they have oodles of talent, and at 19 and 22 they are both young by Ice Dance standards.  They are considered a threat for the Bronze medal, but podium finish or no, they promise to be lovely to watch.