My friend Lila wrote a great post this morning that got me thinking on this subject. I've written this post out in my mind before, but never found the time to post. Thanks for the reminder, Lila :)
Once upon a time, our society valued discretion and respected privacy. People's personal affairs were kept personal, and while gossip certainly always ensued, there was always an unspoken rule about what you could ask somebody and what was just off limits.
Now, people are nosy nearly to the point of assualt. 24/7 news, tabloids, talk shows, the Internet, Facebook, Twitter...all have dulled our senses and deadened our society's ability to recognize the need for discretion and privacy.
Americans generally feel we have the right to know everything about everyone. It's been my experience that when they feel denied of that, they generally go on the attack. People want to know intimate details about marriages, love lives, family histories, work human resource situations, etc. And they are ego-centric enough to think that they are certainly entitled to the information.
There are genuine people in this world who are interested in building a family through adoption and are genuinely interested. Their genuine nature usually shines through, and I have no issue answering questions about the adoption process, our homestudy agency, our orphanage and post-placement services.
But we are a mixed family, and a rather unusually mixed one here in our little upper Midwest portion of the world. An Asian dad, white mom, one white kid, two mixed kids (one who looks hispanic, one who looks asian) and two black kids.
For a huge segment of our I-have-the-right-to-know society, they take one look at our family and begin drooling for every juicy morsel of our family's existence.
Everyday, I am asked about our boys' birth families. Sometimes by loose acquaintances. And a lot by complete strangers. No place is sacred; I'm asked this intrusively personal question at church, at my children's school, at the playground, in the checkout line at Target.
My thought is always the same: Excuse me? What could that possibly have to do with anything about anything relevant to your life? is what I would like to answer.
Instead, I usually give some generic answer, like, "children are given up for a host of reasons in Haiti, just as they are in America, from death to abuse to a parent's decision to not raise their child for personal reasons."
Now, you would think that most people would let it drop after that. Maybe 50% of them do not, which is always shocking to me. Instead of leaving it at that, they push the issue, wanting to know about Miles and Keenan specifically.
"Well, now, that's their personal history, and I'm not in the position to discuss that on their behalf," is what I usually say.
And you know what most people do? They seem offended with me because I 1) didn't give them the information they wanted and 2) seemed "uncalled for" in my curt response. Even though they were the ones who pushed the issue.
The other thing which never ceases to amaze me is that people always want to know if and how our boys are related outside of adoption. I have tried to look at this from many angles to see if my edginess is uncalled for in any way, but I always come back to the answer that people just want to know out of sheer nosiness.
Often I wonder if I am just going through a phase in my post-adoption adjustment. Will I ever stop feeling irritated by these Nosy Nellies? I'm assuming that the questioning won't ever cease, so I guess the answer lies in me. And only time will tell.