Well, a week ago Monday I went to the Post Office to mail in my "big packet" of paperwork and checks to the agency. My daughter (3) was with me, and she asked me what the packet was. Unprepared, I said, "well, it's a letter to another social worker." She wanted to know what it was about. I replied, "Remember when your friend M. was adopted last month? She is home forever with her adoptive mom. I wrote to the social worker to find out if other little girls needed a home. Would you share your home with another little girl? Then you would have a sister."
She replied, "Yeah, I want a sister. She could play with my toys."
The next day, we were having dinner and, completely out of the blue, she said to me, "Remember when you mailed that letter to the social worker?"
"Can we get a baby sister now? I want a baby sister to snuggle."
I told her that adoption takes a long time, and that we probably won't get a tiny baby. Then I asked her where she thought babies came from, aware that she has known many pregnant women.
"Babies 'R Us, " she replied confidently.
Nevertheless, I know her basic understanding of where babies come from is still intact because she later asked me whether about her ballet teacher, currently several months pregnant.
"Is Miss M's baby going to be our baby?"
I'm assuming Najma's concept of social workers is even less clear. Her favorite movie last year was Lilo and Stitch. In this Disney movie, the child welfare worker (aka FBI alien investigator) is a tall, African American man with an earring who perpetually wears sunglasses and never smiles. When I told her I was also a social worker, she said, "No mom, you're not a social worker!" I suppose I don't look the part! I have since tried to point out my other friends who are bona fide social workers and she's not buying it. I will be interested to see what happens at the time of our home visit.
Meanwhile, I have told a few people in my life about these adoption plans. Though I have received support and measured enthusiasm, I am a little confused at the true surprise most people have shown. I might have well said, "I'm taking a moonwalk today." While I have tried not to make any assumptions about how people will react, on some level I want to ask, "Why is this so surprising? Don't you know me at all?" I guess I underestimate how much shock value adoption still raises.