When my family is walking the aisles of Costco, or grabbing a gallon of milk from WinCo, or attempting to eat lunch in a restaurant, we usually draw second glances. We aren’t exactly “normal.” Of course, I wasn’t exactly “normal” before we adopted 4 beautiful African children, either.
We have received so many comments and questions when we venture out in public.
“What beautiful children!”
“Are those all yours?”
“Are they all brothers and sisters?”
“Where are they from?”
Honestly, about 95% of the time I really don’t mind the questions. I think it is nice of people to be so interested in our story. I enjoy talking to others, and our adoption provides a vehicle for many great conversations with people whom I might have never otherwise interacted with. I feel like God has many appointments for me throughout the day and hopefully, I am keeping my eyes and ears in tune with His heart.
However, I have had 3 conversations lately that have really bothered me.
Conversation #1 –
My family and I walk into a convenience store to grab drinks and snacks. A large, hairy man approaches with a genuine smile on his face. He comes right up to Micah, starts rubbing his hair, and bends over to ask him, “What is your name, little guy?”
Looking up with a little bit of nervousness, Micah answers the man.
I step closer to provide encouragement for Micah and to run interference if this man starts to get any more friendly.
“Is this your son?” the man asks.
“But, what I mean is, did you adopt him or is he your son?”
Ok. Really? I mean, unless you have vision problems (or are color blind) it is pretty obvious that I did not give birth to this boy. So are you a little slow on basic genetics, or do you think that if I adopted him, he is not really my son?
Conversation #2 –
This conversation actually took place with Leah. I don’t even remember what the context was, only that we were discussing her birth mother. And Leah, for the first time, called her “my real mom.”
This actually led to a very nice discussion on what family means. Her birth mother is her real mom. I am her real mom. We are both very “real.” The difference is how Leah came to be our daughter.
It really wasn’t Leah’s comment that bothered me, it was the fact that I have heard the phrase – “real mom” – so often in questions from people. I understand the underlying meaning in the phrase, and I try not to take it personally, but sometimes I just do.
So, yes. I am their real mom. And they are my real kids. Together, we make a real family.
Conversation #3 –
A very well-intentioned older gentleman wanted to encourage me. His heart was in the right place. I know this. He placed his hand on my shoulder and talked about the great blessing that adoption is, how God uses it to create families, how we will be forever changed because of it.
And then he concluded his comments with this….
“I have met many, many people from Africa. A lot of children and many older people, too. And I want you to know that people from Ethiopia are always the best. They are the smartest. They are the most beautiful. You are really lucky that your children came from Ethiopia.”
I feel the irritation building in my heart even now as I write this.
There are so many things wrong with this!
Seriously, my hands are shaking now as I type!
I am sorry, but this is racist. Yes, it is.
Racism isn’t always full of negative innuendos about a people group. It can be couched in positive terms. But it is still a general, blanket statement about my children based only upon their ethnicity.
I happen to agree. My children are smart. They are beautiful. But this is because that is the way God made them to be, not because they are from Ethiopia.
And, really? We are lucky our children came from Ethiopia?
Our children come from Ethiopia because that is where God told us to go to pick them up.
If He had led us to the Congo, or to China, or to the neighborhood next door, that is where we would have gone. And I would have been lucky that my children came from there. Because God ordained it and He planned on giving me the gift of these children. No matter where they were born.
Please don’t stop asking me questions. Please don’t stop talking to me about this crazy, wonderful thing that God has done in our family. Chances are, you are a part of the 95% of people who I really want to talk with.
But if you are part of that other 5%, I have decided that I am not going to smile and nod and ignore the fact that what you are saying is wrong. I am going to tell you, in loving terms (hopefully), my opinion on the matter.
And now, I will share a few pictures of my beautiful children as we picked pumpkins. Some of these children are Mexican. Some of them are White. Some are African. But they are all perfect. And they are all mine.