I wish I had kept track from the beginning of how many "they hate girls in China" and/or "your girls are so lucky" and/or "how much did it cost?" conversations I've had since coming home in 2001 with Zoe. How many times? I'd guess 3-4 times a month for 8 years. So maybe 300 times?
My latest was when waiting to pick up Zoe and her friends from China camp earlier this week. A Chinese grandfather waiting to pick up his grandson struck up a conversation -- I had Maya with me. He was an interesting gentleman. He told me about leaving China for Indonesia in 1950, after the Communists came to power. He was 15. He then emigrated to the U.S. in 1998 after anti-Chinese riots in Indonesia -- his son was already living here.
Then he wanted to talk about Maya, was she adopted from China? Was I her grandmother (!) or her mother? Gee, thanks! And then he asked the "how much did it cost" question. Yes, it is very expensive because you are paying many people to work for you to make the adoption legal, I answer.
He then proceeded to tell me everything he knew about adoption from China, starting with, "They think girls are inferior in China." I don't think Maya knows what inferior means, but I answered as if she did: Yes, in some parts of China that is true. But it is a changing attitude. We were lucky enough to live in China for part of 2007, and everyone we knew there loved girls.
He then told me about being at the White Swan Hotel one time and being so surprised to see all the married couples with Chinese babies, and not understanding what was going on. He asked them, and was delighted to meet all these good-hearted people. And he thought -- say it with me! -- that the babies were so lucky. I trotted out my usual answer, "No, we're the lucky ones."
I wasn't surprised to be having the conversation. I've found that Chinese in China and Chinese in America are no more likely to know about international adoption than anyone else. People in China were more likely to identify the "girls are inferior" attitude to the countryside, while Chinese in America seem to consider it the attitude in all of China, as do non-Chinese Americans.
No, I wasn't surprised. But wouldn't it be nice if we never had to have that conversation again?!