Adoption, church gossips, and a minor meltdown

How do you deal with strangers’ questions about your adoption – when you haven’t even been to panel yet?
I love reading other people’s blogs about dealing with people’s nosy and inappropriate questions about their adoptive families. I empathise with their irritation at the idea that participating in the adoption process makes your family public property and available for interrogation at an extremely personal level. But a topic I haven’t yet seen discussed is how to fend off the well-meaning but (for me) immensely irk-making questions about how the process is going … from people we haven’t told.

The background
In a few months’ time, all being well, we will go from being a couple to a family of four. Two thirtysomethings and two children under 4.

We’ve been members of our current church for seven years, since we moved to the area. We’ve given a lot of ourselves to the life of the church – led a weekly small group, led worship regularly, helped with Sunday school, and been heavily involved in mission including spending more than a year overseas.

But for a while now, we’ve felt it’s right to move churches. Ours hasn’t supported us in the way we would hope and expect when we’ve been through some difficult times (particularly that year overseas where despite our best efforts from afar, their communication with us reduced to a dribble). I especially struggle with the quality of the teaching (I want challenge, exposition of the Hebrew and Greek texts, rigour… and this is some way from what we are usually offered). And then there’s the gossip. Oh boy, can this church gossip.

The problem
About 18 months ago we made the mistake of telling a small group of trusted friends – in confidence – that we had started the adoption process. So we were a little taken aback to be asked by some other church members (who we barely knew) how it was going. Now it seems that every time we set foot in the church, another person who we haven’t told sidles up to me and asks about our adoption – some quietly, some rather less so. I’m not a desperately shy person but there are some things I don’t discuss with all and sundry and our adoption process is one of those things. Yesterday it happened again and I’m afraid I had a bit of a meltdown.

D (my husband) was leading worship (he plays keyboard) so we were there 40 minutes before the service started to rehearse. One of the other musicians saw me sitting nearby by myself and came and asked how the adoption was going. As usual, I couldn’t think of an answer other than ‘How do you KNOW?’ so just sat there with raised eyebrows while the pause grew ever longer and more awkward. I did eventually manage to say it was fine thanks and it takes a long time (which normally shuts people up) and she apologised for asking, I said it wasn’t her fault for knowing, just to please keep it to herself… and then I left. Hurriedly. And accidentally bumped (literally) into the vicar on my way out of the door.

He came running out to the car to find out what was wrong, I told him D has to drag me there every week because of all these people asking me things that are none of their business, and that I find going to church an ordeal. I was probably not at my most clear-thinking or eloquent, but I did at least manage not to tell the vicar to b***** off, which is what I was thinking.

*sigh*

Having driven round the corner and sat in the car in the pouring rain for a bit, I texted a friend and went round to hers for a coffee and a moan until the service finished and I could collect D. We then spent much of the afternoon unpicking it all, debating our options and eating copious amounts of restorative cheesecake.

The solution?
So. D agrees that we can move church. Always has. It’s just that we disagree about the timing. I have never wanted to go back there after their shoddiness when we were missionaries overseas (we returned nearly 2 years ago). D wants us to wait until the children are placed with us and then switch, so we go to the new church as a family, which in theory avoids any of the gossip because there’ll be no sudden appearance of children.

I see his logic but (a) want out of our present church ASAP and (b) want to check out potential churches several times to be sure we’re making a better choice this time, because I don’t want to move churches with the children. It’s all so complicated and painful and confusing because we’re on a hundred rotas and need to extricate ourselves from those, we’ll have to explain to the members of the group we lead, and D doesn’t want us to visit new churches together (so people don’t ask questions when we turn up with children in a few months), which is sad… and, and…. arrrgh. I wish things were different but they are what they are. Time to grit my teeth and go church-hunting alone on behalf of all four of us. Pray for me?

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