"Thank God, huh?"

I love summer.  I love being with the boys all the time, but last Tuesday, I felt I needed a little time to myself.  I was watching our boys at football practice when my husband arrived.  I asked if he wouldn't mind taking over alone so that I could go get a pedicure.  He is a smart man who rarely says no to me, so off I went.

I put my feet in the warm water, turned on the massage function of my chair and settled in.  Ahhhhh.  The woman next to me was very talkative, so I opened my book (the universal sign for 'I don't want to chat') and began to read.  She was talking to the women working there about her daughter, (who was seated on the other side of her) she was 17 and had several tattoos and numerous piercings, all of which were being discussed in great detail. I couldn't help myself, I took my eyes off of my book and leaned  forward to check her out.  Big mistake. The woman began to pepper me with questions. She asked if I had any tattoos.  I told her I didn't. She then asked if I had any children with tattoos.  I should have just lied.  I should have shook me head no and went back to reading. I have a problem, I never think to lie, even though I think, in certain circumstances (like this one), it is perfectly okay to do so.

I told her that both of my daughters have tattoos, and while I would rather they didn't, I was pleased that they put them in spots they won't later regret and that I was happy that their tattoos had special meaning to them.  She wanted the details, so I told her that Devyn, after spending the fall semester of her junior year of college traveling the world on 'Semester at Sea', got a tattoo of a compass rose (which I learned is a compass not a flower).  I told her that Maddy's tattoo was the word 'family' written in Amharic, which is the national language of Ethiopia, where our two youngest children are from.  The following conversation ensued:

Woman: Oh my God, that is so cool that you did that.  I have always wanted to adopt but she (pointing her thumb at her daughter) is all I can handle.  Did it cost a lot?  Did it take long? Did you have to go there?

Me: They are priceless...it is the best thing we have ever done.  It didn't take long.  Yes, we went there and loved it.

Woman:  You're not afraid their mothers will ever try to get them back?

Me:  No.

Woman:  I would be.  It happens all the time.

Me:  It doesn't happen all the time and my sons' birth mothers are dead.

Woman: Thank God, huh?

Me:(mouth hanging open, speechless)

Woman: Seriously, you are lucky. It really does happen you know.  I would be petrified of that.

Me: (never really knowing when to stop talking) Honestly, it doesn't happen all the time, that is why when it does, it makes the news.  Adoption is a legally binding relationship.  I was adopted and my birth parents lived a half an hour away, there was no way they could have 'taken me back'.  It really isn't something to be feared.

A teenage girl working at nail place: Oh my God, your parents didn't want you?!!   They gave you away?  Does that make you feel awful?!!

Me: What?  No, I am glad I was adopted.

Teenage worker:  I would hate it.

At this point it was time to go put my now beautiful feet under the dryer.  Instead of reading, I tried to comprehend how anyone could ever think that a dead mother could be seen as good news.  I wish I could have found the words  to make her understand how awful what she was saying was.  I should have told her that birth mothers and adoptive mothers are not in competition with each other.  I wish I could have found a way to tell her how terribly sad it was that the boys will never know their Ethiopian mothers.  How wrong it feels that their Ethiopian mothers will never know the beautiful, strong, resilient and funny sons that they brought into the world. I should have found a way to tell her that when I get to heaven, the first people I want to see, after my my mom and dad, are my boys first mothers. I want to thank them for our amazing boys, to tell them what a gift and an honor it has been for me to be their mother.

Of course, knowing what to say after the conversation is over is easy. Next time, I hope I am ready and do the boys and their Ethiopian parents justice with my responses.