During the past year that I’ve known our friends Xander and Alana, I’ve witnessed some of the more excruciatingly difficult and exquisitely painful moments that accompany the adoption process, while coming to terms with just how little most of us really understand about it. And it seems like one big part of being adoptive parents, no matter to whom, is having to play the role of benevolent public educator to an ignorant public who will take the existence of your children as some kind of personal challenge or display of moral one-upmanship.
And then there’s the obnoxious questions that will always follow them: why can’t you have children of your own? Don’t you know that they’re going to wonder why they look different from you? How much did they cost? Why didn’t their mother want them? What if there’s something wrong with them? What are you going to do with That Hair? You are going to induce lactation, aren’t you?
Even as an innocent bystander, these really raise my ire because of the amount of unthinking, condescending privilege that underscores them. I don’t know a single biological parent who’s had the very choice to give birth to their children questioned so constantly, and throughout her child’s life; you just don’t see pregnant ladies having to face an inquisition squad in line at the grocery checkout, full of people wondering why they didn’t choose to adopt? Couldn’t have they investigated foster care? Don’t they realize that there are already so many children already out there who need homes?
As you can imagine, a sense of humor is integral. And, at some point, Alana got the idea of taking a few metaphorical maternity photos, starring a large beach ball in lieu of a pregnant belly. This, after a couple of Google searches, led to the wide, bizarre, pretentious, tacky, often-naked, and always moodily black-and-white world of maternity portrait photography. And creative inspiration.
Go on: click the link to see what I’m talking about. And, while I’d never imply that there’s anything gross or distasteful about the pregnant human body, turn SafeSearch off at your own risk.
So, we got together this weekend to blow up a beach ball, hang a black sheet across their living room, and document these precious moments during the building of their family.
You’ll notice that, in all of the maternity portraits clogging the interwebs, there are none indicating that the expectant couple is happy or excited about the impending addition. Instead, one must be staring off into the middle distance, dreamily contemplating the miracle of life. So, the biggest challenge for all involved was keeping a straight (or Blue Steel-type) face, while posing seriously with a beach ball in the living room.
I, in all of my puritanical uptightness, also find the thin line between “maternity photography” and “boudoir photography” to be a little disturbing in a Freudian kind of way. So we had to replicate the below photo with frequent, perplexed references back to the original.
Also, if you can combine a shot of your wife’s pregnant stomach with one that lets you prominently display your flexed biceps? Bonus!
Lastly, for those cynics who may think that the fully-inflated beach ball rather dwarfs Alana’s petite frame: she is, after all, expecting twins.
Small update, December 2010.