a little and a lot

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

A Rant Regarding Copycats

Here is something I've been thinking about recently...
I hate being a copycat.

If you know me, then you know this. I hesitate to copy people, and I hate when people copy me. (There are exceptions to this, friends, so don't start second-guessing yourselves!) I like to be original.

(This reminds me of ye ole' college days when Ashley and I would scurry in competition to find the coolest original decorating idea for our separate apartments/duplexes. All these years later, you win, my friend...by a landslide!)

So our recent decision to adopt has been problematic for my ego. Because we have dear friends who have adopted. From Ethiopia. Any mutual friends between us hear of our exciting news and say/think, "Oh, like the Rays!" or "Oh, you're getting 'your own Sophie!' "

International adoption is apparently all the rage in Hollywood, so we get a lot of "Oh, like Angelina!" or "Oh, like Madonna!" etc.

Women my age identify with giving birth. (Want to start excited chatter among a group of women? Just start asking what the birth of their children was like.) But adoption...well, it's a stretch to connect with adoption. So we get a lot of "Oh, like my second cousin once removed adopted!"

I know in my head that people are just trying to connect...to find a way to be excited or knowledgeable. But inside my (prideful) heart, I am thinking, "No, we are doing something that we decided to do ourselves, separate from other people we know about!" And then I just get belligerent and irrational, "WE ARE DOING SOMETHING BRAND NEW THAT'S NEVER BEEN DONE BEFORE!" Deep breaths.

Here's the deep-down reason why I think it bothers me: It takes away the excitement of the news. Let's say my friend Sally tells me she's pregnant. Do I respond by exclaiming, "Oh, just like your sister Betty was!" or "Jennifer Garner was pregnant a few years ago!" or "My friend's cousin did that!"

No one considers pregnant women as "copying" other pregnant women (in general). And in general, no one really voices their concern over someone getting pregnant: "Well, you know Betty's child turned out to be a little terror. I hope Sally can handle this."

I just want to be treated as an original, like everyone else.

But then again, there is nothing new under the sun. And if you really think about it, our lives are all about being copycats...our houses look like knock-offs of our favorite home decor stores. Our clothes look like the catalogs of our favorite designers. Our speech is the same dialect of the region in which we live. And if there is Someone we should really be known for copying...well, you know where this is going...

This journey has been teaching me:
(1) When I encounter someone else's experience, I should respond to it (with joy or sadness) "as is," without trying to tether myself to the situation in some way with my own experiences.
(2) If I am compared to anyone in this life, I hope ultimately it is to my Father, who adopted me as his daughter and loves me perfectly.


Brooke said...

It's true, these people are just trying to relate in some way, since they've never gone through it, it's a way to make it sound normal and great. And of course, it's not the normal route to family. On the positive side, I have found out some great connections that way, so occasionally those mentions of other adoptive families end up working for me.

Interesting insight, though, into the differences of people's reactions to an announcement of pregnancy. I have found that people were also generally a lot less excited - there is a sense of ambivalence on their faces - like you can read the questions in their heads, that just aren't in your head when you hear about pregnancy. (We all pretty much know how that works.)

Lastly, I am confident you are not copying me. I really doubt anyone would ever go to such lengths to copy someone! Adoption is complicated and is not something anyone can enter into lightly. I can attest that God has been at working in you and Nick for as long as I've known you. This seed was perhaps watered or nurtured a bit by knowing our Sophie, but not planted by her. We are excited to know your child and walk alongside you in this journey.

Ashley @ pure and lovely said...


I hope I haven't tried to tether myself, and please know that even though we DO come from different "ends" of the situation, I totally admire you and LOVE what you are doing. I think it's incredible, and that you guys are going to be awesome parents. And for the record, I am STILL just as excited, because it is your expectant stage, whether it comes from you physical body, or your heart. I know my blog rants alot about my bodily experiences as children, because its all I can relate to, but please know I know your child has a story, and you have one, just like everyone else. I love you guys and think you are so awesome!

ps. you schooled me in college, and you still do, now. I just wanted to be you in college. (what can I say... I had notoriously CRAPPY roomates...and now I just have a crappy budget. ha!)

Leah said...

Great to meet you (I just read your intro post on the AAI group). We are in the process too and I will follow yours!


Julie said...

I love how you put things in to words. I generally love everything about you though.

First off, you are one of the most unique people I know. I would never think you were copying someone in this way! You would never even buy a sweater just because Brooke or someone else liked it...let alone this!

Second, I think people may react in that way because they don't know how to react. I usually say something stupid or not-well-thought-out whenever I don't know what to say. I said many ignorant things to Brooke when she was going through this process. Your openness and patience and ability to educate others about the process will be invaluable (as was hers).

Can't wait to get together!

Adopting Rhet: Click on the timeline above to read more