Rose and I listened to the Problem with the Puddles in the car on the way to Green Bay today. “Why were you going to Green Bay on a Wednesday?” you might ask. (I have no idea how to punctuate that sentence. Someone save me.) Rose and D both are loosely represented by an agent who asked them to audition for a Superbowl “Got Milk?” ad. Rose got it. So we went to have Rose’s picture taken with the Packers quarterback. He was super nice and lovely with Rose, for the record. You will only see this ad if the Packers win the big game. Otherwise it will never appear anywhere.
So. The Problem with the Puddles. While it is a fun book to listen to (for a young child – I didn’t like it nearly as much as most of the kids’ stories we’ve been driving to in the car these days) and was fairly interesting, I really did not like the way adoption was presented in the story. I am not generally an over-sensitive person about this issue, and maybe it was just the narrative style, but I felt like the decision made by birth parents to relinquish a child seemed callous and uncaring, and while the adoptive parents were presented as loving their child, they felt like adoption was a secret to be kept. Generally it was a silly portrayal of adoption in a book that was exceedingly silly, but it still rubbed me the wrong way.
A lot of adoptive parents and adult adoptees get up in arms about the language used and representations of adoption in popular culture. I am usually not one of the people worrying that the b-list horror movie, Orphan, will freak people out too much to consider adopting a child. (Spoiler alert: Turns out the girl isn’t actually a girl but some sort of tiny adult psychotic.) I loved Despicable Me, despite its portrayal of the orphanage as a terrible place and the homestudy process as a breeze where you can pretty much walk in somewhere and walk out with a kid. It isn’t grocery shopping here, people.
I guess my problem with The Problem… was just that I was sort of taken aback by the overall tone around the adoption theme. Adoption was a burden. It was a secret. It was the opposite of what it has been in my life. It couldn’t be a secret (not that I would want it to!) I feel like I am part of what one adoptive parent I know calls a “conspicuous family.” A lot of people have questions. (Although, it has been funny that over the last couple years, probably five women that I’ve gotten to know and would now consider friends have said “I didn’t know Rose was adopted!” So maybe we’re not as conspicuous as I sometimes feel, since my family is all beautiful shades of brown.) And adoption has been so far from a burden for us. It has presented a couple of challenges, but every kid has some challenges. It remains the biggest and best decision Charles and I ever made. A blessing.
It might be my sensitivity to the issue (like if you’ve ever got a number stuck in your head and you start seeing it everywhere) but really mixed portrayals of adoption pop up constantly in the books I am reading, especially ones I am reading to the kids. While I am fully aware that you can’t monitor and censor all the stuff your kids read, (see: Dillon learning to read and blowing the lid off the Santa secret) this is one area where I wish I could get a better handle on it. The book cover said nothing about adoption – it was ostensibly about two dogs that were left behind finding their way back to the family that accidentally drove off without them. (Hmmm. Metaphor? You decide.)
Rose, for the record, didn’t register any objections to the book. And now, for your viewing pleasure, a rare picture on the blog, but we have to milk our moment of potential fame for all it is worth…