I haven't ranted in a while. I think it's time :)
I want to state at the outset that this a really stupid, ridiculous thing to be bothered by. I am acutely aware of that. In the grand scheme of things, this matters very little if at all. But I'm going to complain anyway, because I'm Jill, and that's what I do.
In the past 3 years I have heard a lot of opinions about adoption and parenting and the choice that I made. The things that I hear tend to fall into three categories. There are the nice, appropriate comments that people make; there are the stupid, inappropriate things comments that people make; and there are the ostensibly nice comments that people make that seem nice and that come from a good place but that actually kind of bug me, especially when I think a lot about them. (I know this is going to be kind of a shock, but I am the sort of person who overthinks things.)
Last week I heard something from the third category. It's something I've heard before and it's always bothered me a smidge, but I tended to put it in the second category based on the people who said it. But this time it was said by someone I love and respect, and I think that's why it bothered me.
I was telling her about how proud I am of the choice I made, and how happy I am with it. And she said to me, “Well, of course you're proud. You did the right thing.”
I know that I did the right thing. If I hadn't been one million percent sure adoption was the right thing, I wouldn't have done it. When I talk about adoption, I often say the words, “I know I did the right thing for Roo.” So why does it bug me when someone agrees with me?
It bothers me because it's a judgment. It's a judgment of my behavior by someone who has no stake in the choice or the consequences; someone who has no right to choose or to judge my situation. I know that I did the right thing. But it's not for anyone else to tell me I chose right. Because it was my choice to make. “Right” was my judgment call.
Adoption was the right choice for Roo. I know that. But I feel like when people tell me, “You did the right thing,” they're really telling me that they judge women who don't choose adoption. If my choice was right, not placing must be wrong. They're telling me, “If you hadn't placed Roo, I would think you made a poor choice.”
But you know what? I don't think that adoption is just this big Band-Aid that covers every situation and fits every person. I may have thought so before I got pregnant, but I sure as heck don't think so now. It's so easy to look at a situation from the outside and think that adoption is obviously the best choice. But it doesn't matter if you think it's the right choice. What matters is the opinion of the one doing the choosing.
When I was pregnant, pretty much every person I talked to (including my family) told me that adoption was the right choice and that parenting would be a mistake. It was pretty awkward when I parented, because I knew that no one thought I was doing what was right; they felt I had made the wrong choice. Whether my choice was right or wrong isn't the issue here. The issue is that everyone else thought it was for them to decide what was right for my baby.
I know that people mean well. I figure that when people tell me I made the right choice they think they're complimenting me. But there are so many other words that they could use – brave, selfless, mature, heroic, incredible. I don't feel super comfortable with any of those except maybe “selfless.” I mean, it's not like I pulled a family of five out of a burning building. But “right” … it's beyond uncomfortable. It raises my hackles and puts me in a defensive position.
I know I chose right. And I want you to know that I know I chose right. But I don't want you to decide that I chose right. Does that make sense?
I didn't say any of this to my friend. I'm hoping that her conviction that I chose right grew out of seeing my own conviction in my choice. I'm hoping that she has seen for herself why I know my choice was right. It would hurt my heart if she thought it was her place to decide whether I did the right thing. It's no one's place but mine.