Wednesday 25 October 2023

Target by CLS Sandoval, home-brand cola

      It was at least the fifth time I had been to Target in as many days. The woman bagging my groceries smiled. Her name tag said Tina. I smiled back though through blurry eyes.
     “Is her dad Black?“ Tina tipped her head and Ella’s direction.
     “She’s adopted,” my smile was bigger, more genuine. I stood taller.
     “Oh I’m sorry.”
      “I know that’s awful. It’s awful when you can’t have your own children. It’s awful when kids can’t have their real parents.”
        I took a deep breath, shifted from one hip to the other. Ella’s wide eyes and smiling face told me I would need to choose my tone and words carefully “I am adopted, too. The parents who adopted me are my real parents, and adopting my own children was always my plan A.”
The woman standing behind me had clearly been listening. She rolled her eyes and shifted back onto her heels. Tina bagged one item in silence, and then said “Well, I know a lot of adopted people, and they wish they knew who they really were.”
      “Adoption is not a monolith. Adoptees are all individuals with individual experiences. I wouldn’t try to take any of their experiences from them, nor should anyone try to take my experience for me.”
       A man in a Target name tag and red shirt with a full cash drawer was standing behind Tina. It looked like he was there to relieve her for a break, but she wasn’t finished with me. “Adoption should be illegal. It’s human trafficking. Child abuse.”
        I could feel how hot my face was now. I thought about the faces of the generations of women who came before me. They shared blood with each other, mine was different, but who they were was as much a part of me as they were a part of each other. I hoped that my daughter would feel similarly.  So, I did with my great grandma, Nana, and mom would be proud of. I said to Tina, “Child abuse is awful. Human trafficking is awful. Unfortunately, these things happen to children who are adopted and to children who are not adopted. My adoption is the best thing that ever happened to me. I am trying to pay it forward to my daughter. Thank you for bagging my groceries.”
        I put the rest of the bags into my cart, kissed Ella on the cheek, and headed to our car.

About the author

CLS Sandoval, PhD (she/her) is a pushcart nominated writer and communication professor accomplished in film, academia, and creative writing who performs, writes, signs, and rarely relaxes. She’s a flash fiction and poetry editor for Dark Onus Lit. CLS is raising her daughter and dog with her husband in Alhambra, CA. 


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