Yesterday I went to an international adoption seminar to fulfill some of my agency's adoption education requirements. It was a wonderful, informative, and fun seminar (I just love adoption education), however it was a tad uncomfortable at times and brought up some interesting thoughts.
At the beginning of the seminar, we all went around the table and introduced ourselves. There were five or six married couples, two presenters (one was the social worker who did Super T's home study and postplacements and my current home study), and me. When I introduced myself I chose to say just that I was a "single mom" and didn't mention being widowed. I also said that I had two children by birth, one adopted son, and that I was in the process of adopting again. My social worker is also a widow whose husband died a number of years ago when she had small children. Immediately upon my introduction she put in a good word for me, saying that I was "amazing" or something like that. At the moment I downplayed her complement, but as the day wore on, I appreciated it more and more. I'm sure she had an inkling that I was not going to fit in and wanted to help the situation. Although no one was rude or ugly, or even overtly standoffish, it was abundantly evident that I was "different." This was interesting to me because I don't have a chip on my shoulder, I am friendly and easy to talk to, we had important stuff in common (adoption!), and in my almost nine years as a single mom have had very few times where I have felt left out or put down because of my situation (unlike many of my friends who are widows and have horrible stories of people being downright rude to them). In the two situations I can think of (this one and one other) both times people didn't know I was a widow. They just knew that I was a single mom. In the other situation, (a long-term, ongoing situation where people weren't mean or rude, they just weren't warm and friendly), as soon as one of the non-warm people found out I was a widow (a year later), her whole demeanor toward me changed. Interesting.
After the adoption meeting I wondered if people were judging me, thinking, "This woman can't even keep her marriage together and now she's adopting?" It was not a nice thought. I regretted not telling that I was a widow. It is always a decision whether to tell or not. Usually the opportunity doesn't even present itself without it being awkward, and it really isn't an issue. The kids are thriving, I am happy, life is great, and we are just people like everyone else so why make a big deal out of it? But this is the first time that I remember being presented with the perfect opportunity (i.e. "introduce yourself and tell us something interesting about yourself") and not taking it. I really dislike the pity that inevitably follows the revelation that my husband died when I was eight months pregnant with my daughter, leaving my toddler son and I alone. However, that pity is quickly dispelled when I tell how God has been faithful and how great we are doing. Apparently "single-mom-stigma" is not quite so easily dispelled. Lesson learned.
The other lesson I learned after reflecting on this is how often I judge people based on very little information: maybe how they look or what they wear or the make of their car or a single comment they make in a meeting. Is it right to judge like that? Is it godly? Pot, meet Kettle. I really can't complain about those truly nice couples in the meeting. How many times have I done the same thing? How many times have I seen someone driving a very expensive car and thought, "What a waste. That would fund an entire adoption." (Seems to me that Judas said something similar.) I remember thinking that and later found out that the car had been given to the family as a gift and they were almost embarrassed to drive such a nice car. Very humbling and totally changed my thoughts toward them. Another lesson learned.
As for the question of whether or not a single woman should adopt, Linny at A Place Called Simplicity answered it very well here: http://aplacecalledsimplicity.blogspot.com/2009/08/should-single-woman-adopt.html