Did you ever have a best friend that could talk you into anything? Mine was named Courtney. Courtney was always scheming. She lived a few doors down and not a week went by without Courtney coaxing me into another one of her bright ideas that acutely displayed my awkwardness.
The first thing she talked me into was dance class. I remember standing in my yellow satin tutu, a good head taller than every other little ballerina in the class. "But you're tall! You're meant to be a dancer!" my teacher proclaimed. I looked in the mirror, dubious. In reality I looked like an errant tulip bulb stashed by a naughty squirrel.
Then there was cheerleading. Again my height seemed to play in my favor. "Cheerleading is a way to become models, and models are tall," Courtney plotted. But though I jumped and cheered my hardest "Chargers we got it all - Super tough football!" my cartwheels too often landed me in the bleachers.
The last of our ventures was basketball. Surely, as a tall person, this would be in my wheelhouse! Thirty years later my mother still giggles when she thinks of how I made it through an entire season without ever having touched the ball.
When we began our adoption journey I quickly realized a standard response to sharing our news was "Oh. So you're not able to have your own kids?" I remember sitting with a close friend who, upon hearing our joyous plans, confided "We looked into that, but thankfully we didn't have to go that route." In an instant her words, though unintentional, brought me to that moment of standing in my yellow tutu against the back wall of the auditorium.
Since returning home we have become a conspicuous family. Looking at us one can see my son is clearly adopted. Well meaning friends and practical strangers pat my hand everyday and say "Now that you've adopted you'll finally get pregnant."
In that moment, I am no longer that little girl in an ill fitting ballerina costume. I cover my son's ears, full on mama bear mode.
Their unintended words tear at my heart. Their meaning suggests that my son was a second choice. That "Option A" failed so we went to China. Nothing could be further from the truth.
I look into his sweet face. He hugs my neck and gives me a kiss, confused as to why his Mama is upset. I stroke his hair. "Families come in all shapes and sizes," I whisper to him, "and we are so thankful you had the power to find us."