I’m a mom of three children, all of whom were adopted at birth. My kids are black, and my husband and I are white. When we visit the park, eat at a restaurant, meander around the mall, or stand in a checkout line, we can reliably predict the questions and comments that will come our way.
We are a multi-racial adoptive family, and we realize that our uncommon path to parenthood evokes curiosity. However, there are days we can’t even buy toilet paper or order a sandwich without hearing, “Excuse me … ” followed by a request for personal information or an assumption about adoption or race. It gets tiresome to respond to the same questions and comments over and over, all while standing right beside my children who are listening and learning about the world.
Here are some things I really wish people would stop saying to us:
1. “Are you going to tell the kids they are adopted?”
Um, they already know. And I think they’d figure it out even if we didn’t tell them.
2. “Are the kids real siblings?”
Of course. Kids in the same family are “real” siblings. We are the real parents. We are a real family. Authenticity isn’t based on genetics.
3. “Oh! I’ve always wanted a little brown baby. They are SO SO SO cute!”
Yes, my kids are adorable. But a brown-skinned child isn’t an accessory to be carried around. My kids, you know the ones standing right next to me, are people with feelings, and there’s much more to them than their looks – such as their intelligence, talents, and humor.
4. “What country are they from?”
Um, the Midwest. In the United States. Not all black kids were adopted from Africa.
5. “Isn’t it so hard to do their hair?”
(This one is usually proceeded by an attempt to fondle the kids’ heads.) Like anything in parenting, moms and dads learn as they go. And please, please do not touch my children. You are a stranger, and my children aren’t puppies to pet. Also, that hair you are admiring took hours to style, so keep your grimy hands off!
6. “It’s so nice of you to provide them with a loving home. The kids are so lucky to have you as their parents.”
We didn’t rescue our children. They came from loving families and were placed with us for reasons we don’t disclose out of respect for the birth families’ privacy. We are the lucky ones, so please don’t act like our kids are charity cases.
7. “Why didn’t you adopt a white baby?”
We were open to adopting a child of any race. We were chosen, three times, to become parents of a black child. Our ability to love a child has nothing to do with the child’s race.
8. “I heard adoption is so expensive! Doesn’t adopting cost a ton of money?”
Financial matters aren’t usually a topic of discussion between strangers. But since you are just itching to know how much adoption costs, you can call adoption agencies and ask. And keep in mind, adopting from foster care is free.
9. “I’ve always wanted to adopt, but I know that adopted kids have problems.”
Yes, all adopted children are exactly the same. Thankfully we have Lifetime movies to provide the public with stereotypical adoption education. You do realize my children are standing right here as you proclaim how all adopted children have issues, right?
10. “Now that you’ve adopted, are you going to try to have your own kids?”
These are our own kids. And unless you’re my gynecologist, my uterus is none of your concern.
Tip: The next time you see a family like mine, treat them just as they are, fellow human beings. Interrogations aren’t appreciated. Smiles are.