Sunday, July 19, 2009

"I don't WANT to get married!"

I remember saying that as a child, stamping my foot to emphasize the point. Whoever I said it to said something along the lines of “You’ll change your mind, dear.”

Well, I never did. I can’t say why exactly – the trauma of my dad leaving for Korea and then Thailand when I was a child, incipient feminism, Murphy Brown (wait, I was already in my 30s when Dan Quayle blamed her unwed pregnancy for the moral decline of America!)?! Who knows? Who cares? I just DON’T want to get married! And for whatever reason, I never did.

Still, it was a little disconcerting when the “you’ll change your mind” answers became “whatever makes you happy” answers when I hit my 30s – it seemed a bit too easy an acceptance of my spinsterhood!

Though I never wanted to get married, I always wanted kids. Maybe Dan Quayle can blame this one on Murphy Brown, because I never thought I needed to be married to have kids. And it seemed China agreed, at least at first, when I started the process to adopt Zoe. Then the rumors started, a few single women were delayed for home study updates, and I started to get nervous. I remember being out of town for a conference and obsessively checking my agency yahoogroup list for rumors, and finally calling the agency to ask for advice.

We decided to be proactive and do a home study update attesting to the fact that I was heterosexual and actively seeking a husband. I had to explore my entire dating history with the social worker, and after compiling that list of losers, was it any wonder I DIDN’T want to marry any of them?! Still, the whole thing was completely humiliating, because of course like all other paperwork submitted to China, that home study update had to be notorized, authenticated by the Texas Department of State, and apostilled by the Chinese Consulate. Sigh.

I also had to do a letter saying I was heterosexual and actively seeking a husband, and I emailed Bonnie at "Greatwall dot com" to ask her exactly what I had to say in my “I am a heterosexual” letter, and how fervently did I have to state I was “actively seeking a husband.” Too bad Bonnie’s email address was Bonnie at "Greatwall dot ORG!" Because I got a reply from some guy named Liam at Greatwall dot com saying, “Bonnie doesn’t work here. AND WILL YOU PLEASE STOP EMAILING ME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” Which is how I learned that “I am a heterosexual and actively seeking a husband” is not a great internet pickup line!

One of the reason China changed the rules and blocked adoption by singles is because they were afraid people were lying about being heterosexual. I wasn’t. But I was lying about actively seeking a husband! And I was conscious of that lie throughout the wait for Zoe. One time, I got a call from a dating service – “We are looking for attractive, interesting singles in the DFW area who are interested in long-term relationships.” I immediately responded, “No, thanks, I’m not interested,” and hung up. And suddenly I was worried that the CCAA was calling to check if I was really actively seeking a husband! I wanted to call them and say, “Don’t worry, I’m looking for a husband in a more traditional way – I’m hanging out in bars!”

So why am I revisiting this ancient history?

Yesterday morning the girls tell me they want a baby sister. I explain that China won’t allow single women to adopt, and they suggest other countries, and I explain again that there are really very few countries that allow single women to adopt. So of course they suggest I get married.

And I find myself stamping my foot and saying, “I don’t WANT to get married!” And imagine, this time the audience is my KIDS! How weird is that?!


Wendy said...

Kids always have the solution, don't they? Not to mention, I don't recall you saying you wanted more children!
You gave me a laugh tonight, I remember the paranoia at wondering what CCAA may be checking!
It is funny that the girls see marriage as a means to an end, interesting.

Anonymous said...

Sometimes I wonder what impression I am leaving on my children. Once I commented that my dad (their grandpa) is sometimes annoying. Recently, a kid asked them if they had a daddy. They said "no," then one said "I don't want a daddy, because they can be annoying!" I will add, sometimes I wish they had a daddy, but while I am lousy about picking men for myself, I am VERY particular about daddy qualities in men, because, you know, I don't want my kid's daddy to be "annoying" or anything!
Sue (aka anonymous)

malinda said...


Oh, yes, my kids seem to have a very instrumental view of marriage -- it is a means to an end. It's how you get a baby sister, it's how you get a baby, period, which is why they don't really want to get married, either (I tell them they might change their minds!!!!) -- Zoe in particular thinks that getting married AUTOMATICALLY puts a baby in your tummy, you really don't have any choice in the matter. I've explained otherwise, but she doesn't seem to buy it!

And that whole conversation with the kids about a baby sister was really weird because I felt at turns like a child throwing a tantrum -- I don't WANT to get married or EAT broccoli or TAKE a bath WAAAAAAAAAAAAA! -- and like a dried up old crone -- I'm too old to grow a baby in my tummy (trust me, I'm too old!).

Sue, I'm setting such a bad example for my kids on such a large number of fronts, I don't worry too much about the impression I'm leaving about marriage! Though that whole Women's History Month thing last year about women having to work for their fathers and then their husbands probably didn't help!

In the midst of all of these conversations about a baby sister and China's rules I also explained the gay/lesbian thing (!), and had to disabuse them of the notion that they could grow up, fly to China, get elected President of China, and change the rules. I shattered Zoe's illusions about Mao by explaining the basic lack of democracy in China and that some people think Mao is a BAD MAN! Sigh.

And I agree -- it is VERY important quality in daddies not to be annoying!

Anonymous said...

Daddys and husbands can both be annoying. But sons . . . they are pretty OK for the most part. Hmm. clf

Anonymous said...

I had a hard time with the requirement, which wasn't a formal requirement in 1997, just something kinda in the wind. For reasons you can piece together, I considered myself lucky enough to have had a heterosexual romantic history, including an engagement, I could draw on for the homestudy. Nonetheless, my social worker had to put down her pen a few times (actually, she was good: she offered). I resented every monent of insinuation--both from China and adoption agencies--that only one kind of person was fit to parent. In fact, even back in 1997--the start of the adoption heydey--I was lucky to find an agency that accepted single applicants. After adopting and posting on the old iVillage AdoptDebate forum, I realized that it was generally accepted that lying was ethical under the circumstances. Have no opinion on that one way or the other. Technically, I didn't lie and am glad I was never in that position.

RamblingMother said...

In my heterosexual statement for the adoption I didn't have to say I was actively seeking a husband because I wasn't and am not not but I did have to say that if I got married G would be my first and only priority over the husband or something to that effect. I don't wish to get married because I am too lazy to work on a relationship. G tells me she isn't getting married though and I wonder if I am tainting her idea of marriage to an unhealthy extreme.

Anonymous said...

You are a wonderful mom! Keep up the good work.