Maggie Makes Four!

This journal started off documenting the adoption of our youngest daughter. It now follows the twist and turns of our lives as we raise these two amazing little creatures into the best women they can become.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Ignorance is Everywhere

Background:  When the school year started, I debated sharing La Nina's adoption with her teacher.  I chose not to.  In my opinion, her adoption is history and is irrelevant in terms of her education.  This attitude goes against the advice of many adoption professionals, but the way I see it, it's simple:  Adopt is a verb.  La Nina was adopted once.  She is my daughter.  Period. I refuse to qualify that fact by turning "adopted" into an adjective or a qualifier.

I'm in charge of the Chinese New Year celebration in  La Nina's kindergarten class.  I've been working with the other moms to plan a nice little party, I loaned a bunch of my Chinese culture books to her teacher and I'm planning a little presentation about some of the traditions around the holiday.   This afternoon I went into La Nina's class to finalize the festivities for tomorrow.  While I'm describing some of the projects to La Nina's teacher, she turns to La Nina and says this.  

"You're so lucky to get to celebrate this holiday.  Is your daddy Chinese?"  

I was floored.  She's met the Dad on several occasions, he's decidedly not Chinese.  I'm not Chinese.  She knows La Nina was born in China.  What the hell does she think happened?  Does she think I traveled to China to give birth in a third world country with notorious low standards in health care and human rights?  But more importantly, what exactly is poor La Nina supposed to say in answer to her teacher's question?  

I looked down at my daughter and she turned her big brown eyes to me.  I could see she was totally confused.  I stepped in and said in a glib tone, 'Technically, her mother and father are both Chinese.  Come on' La Nina, let's go."  And we left, mid-conversation, without any further explanation of my statement or discussion of tomorrow's event.  I wasn't going to discuss La Nina's personal history with a person who didn't have the wherewithal to make some basic assumptions.  

The relief on La Nina's face was visible once we got outside of the classroom.  I gave her a big hug.  I made sure she understood my answer to the question and she did.  I told her she's free to give this answer and leave the room any time someone asks her a silly question.

And that's what it was:  a silly question.  The problem is it stems from total ignorance.   I know there's a lot of ignorance out there, I've been dealing with it for years.  But for some reason, experiencing it in a kindergarten classroom stunned me and it gave me a good idea of what my daughter is going to be dealing with going forward in school.  

Now, I'm sure some of you think, well you should have told the teacher.  I'd argue No.  If a teacher's so closed minded that adoption isn't a possibility, then I'd rather her not evaluate my daughter from her obviously biased point of view.   Let her think I went to a Chinese sperm bank.  Let her think I gave birth in China.  Let her think whatever she wants about me...but leave my kid out of it.

It's too late in the school year to change La Nina's class to get her away from this teacher, and frankly, she's having too much fun with her classmates for me to do it.  But let me tell you, the Magster will not have this teacher in Kindergarten.  


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