- the act or the effect of perceiving
Funny but it still surprises me when I witness someone change their perception of me. It happened today.
I sat next to a gentleman that I have seen and spoke greetings to for the past couple years. He is an older man, more of a father type figure. He has complimented me in the past and told me that I have a positive energy about me that shines. That always makes me feel good. It’s much better than someone telling me I am beautiful or something related to my exterior appearance. An inner glow means that I am shining God’s light and I am living in the light.
The last few months, we’ve sat down after the church service and have gotten to know each other a little better. He learned that I have a son and I recently introduced them.
Today, he and I sat together during service. On the way out, he noticed a book I was reading. I showed it to him, Twenty Things Adopted Kids Wish Their Adoptive Parents Knew, by Sherri Eldridge. He got a puzzled look on his face and asked why I was reading this book. I wondered how curious he really was.
Now at this point, I hesitate for just a moment. Do I hide the truth and tell him it just seemed like an interesting book to read or do I share the real reason? I decided to share the true reason. Truth is always better, right?
I tell him that I am a birth mom. He looks at me, puzzled again, and then repeats it back to me as a question, “You’re a birth mom?” Then he fumbles for words to understand and says, “So your son is your son (referring to Jaren), right?”
Calmly with a gentle smile, I explain that Jaren is my son but I had another son who I placed for adoption.
To ease the conversation, I tell my friend how the book is very insightful for anyone to read. I explain how society has so many stereotypes based around adoption and this book provides a lot of insight. I see his wheels turning in his mind. He still seems to be hung up on the “birth” term.
This has happened on many occasions after I tell someone I am a birth mom. People sometimes get confused on the adoption terminology. “Who is who again?” They know me or think they know me but now they’re not sure I am who I am. I see them trying to figure out their response to me which is contingent on which role I took in the adoption process. Am I the hero or the villain?
He again grapples to understand and says, “So you have another son that doesn’t live with you?”
“Yes,” I reply.
I see his whole facial expression change. Something turns in his eyes. We’ve all been in this situation. We see or hear something that makes us feel uncomfortable and we try concealing what we think in our mind or feel in our heart. A positive thought has transferred into a negative thought which almost instantaneously reflects outwardly in the human’s eye. We try to keep our composure, hide our thoughts and hope that our eyes do not reveal our true feelings. We don’t want to intentionally hurt anyone.
My church friend’s warm and caring eyes have now become aloof as he rustles with the stereotypes he has learned from the past. My self-image takes a direct hit.
This is where I get really confused. I mean when I was going through this process, the adoption agency, my mother and parts of society convinced me I was doing this wonderful thing. I was commended for making the “right” choice. I was told I was being selfless. I was like a…..a hero. But when I get this kind of response still after thirteen years, it makes me question my choice.
So what am I? Am I a villain or a hero? Am I selfless or heartless?