Monday, December 28, 2009

Odd Conversation...

So last week one of my gym friends tells me that a man asked her about me (and the babe). He said that the baby was pretty, and was she mine? My friend said yes, that I adopted her.

(This man has only been coming to our gym for about a month or so. He's a very tall, African American man, in his sixties.)

Then the next day I'm in the gym hallway (holding the babe) chatting with a few friends and the man who asked about Ella and me walks by. He says to me, "Are you babysitting?" Um, did he not just ask someone yesterday if Ella was mine or not? So I said, "No, she's my daughter." I then say, "Can't you tell? She looks just like me." As a joke, of course. He then smiles and walks away.

Then a few days ago I walk into a step and weights class to hand something to one of my friends. The guy is in the class and says, "Aren't you the girl with the baby?" I say, "Yes, I have a baby." He says, "A girl?" I say yes.

Then, on my way out of the room, I stop to talk to another friend. The man comes up, interrupts us, and asks if he can talk to me for a minute. We step to the side and it goes like this:

Guy: Now, I'm sixty-nine years old.

Me: Nod.

Guy: Is that your baby that you bring here?

Me: Yes.

Guy: Where is she?

Me: In the nursery. (Um, where else would she be? Swimming by herself in the gym pool?)

Guy: I'm in my sixties, and I'm not used to this. (Ok, so are you trying to justify being so nosy/ignorant/rude/invasive?) Did they not have any [babies] of your own [race]?

Me: (Did he seriously just say that?!? I don't know whether to laugh, walk away, or respond. I respond.) We were open to the child God had for us.

Guy: Thinks for a moment. Was your husband, was he ok with that?

Me: (No, I adopted her secretly, and my husband has yet to notice she is black). Yes.

Guy: Well, it's nice to know some people are colorblind. (Obviously he's not....)

Odd. Really odd. I don't know what to make of it.

Is this a test? I was confident and not at all embarrassed or ashamed. I was slightly annoyed, though. How many times is this guy going to ask questions? And why does he assume that we adopted because we are colorblind? Who is colorblind/race-blind (besides people who are really, physically blind)? And why does he think stating his age is going to make me feel better? Well, maybe it makes him feel better.

I guess I admire the fact that he had the guts to talk to me. It sure beats a stare or a whisper. But those are few and far between. I mean, does this guy live under a rock? We live in a metro area full of interracial families.

Despite the odd, nosy conversation, I recognize that these questions and conversations (which rarely happen anymore but when they do, I'm ready) are opportunities to educate other people about adoption. It's sort of what I signed up for, I guess.


  1. How odd! I don't know what to make of it. ??? Perhaps you were the first white woman he has ever seen with a black child and he was just trying to process it?? It is definitely odd!

  2. The most interesting part is that he asked SO MANY times if she was your daughter. Waiting to get another answer? Strange.

  3. Very odd but I think you handled it very well. I'm not sure I would have done so well. It's so weird that he kept asking about her and where she was, like it was his business anyway!

  4. I think you did a great job answering his questions without being defensive. It was odd that he kept asking other people about you though. I don't think it's that odd that he wanted to talk to you about it. I think that many people do not understand transracial families and to be able to not only tell them about the importance of adoption but to witness to them about what God has done in your life is pretty cool. From our experience and depending on where we are in the city, people react to our family differently. Some black people have told us that we shouldn't have adopted a black child because we are just going to raise him "white". Others say that our kids are blessed to be in our family. All we can do is pray about how to react to different situations and to understand that most people are scared to ask questions and sometimes they don't ask them the way they intended. By the way, I like reading your blog! It's nice to know that other people are going through similiar things that our family goes through.
    God bless,
    Sue from Chicago

  5. Actually, I think he was kinda impressed with you and you challenged his beliefs about what races caucasian couples are open to/want to adopt. He was brave in admitting that he was older and "not used to this". I think you handled everything just fine and gave great answers. I don't think he was implying that he didn't approve (?) just that he was surprised and didn't really know what he thought.

  6. I think you handled it well -- now imagine in that man's lifetime what he has experienced - Civil rights movement, sit ins and probably himself all sorts of horrors. Now today, he has a black president and families with black children (willingly). Maybe you are the first person he has "known" that he can ask about, maybe he was confused, maybe he thought you were a foster parent (thus the babysitting comment) and finally, he is trying to understand that you really are a family. That your husband (often men tend to be more racist) was ok with a child that didnt look like him. All things for him that probably at some level are baffling. He wasn't negative, but he was curious. And I think that is ok :)

  7. Maybe you were meant to communicate a new understanding to that man...and every other person you meet when you're out and about with Baby. That's a powerful thing.

  8. I've been thinking a lot about your experience since I read your post a week ago. This man's responses and questions tell a lot about his culture and understanding of the family.

    Disbelief! "I'm not used to this." We are in a time when cross cultural adoption is becoming more and more common. We have friends with diverse ethnic backgrounds. That was not true for him.

    His question about your husband might have been (internally), "Do you have a husband?" Obviously, he is fascinated with you! :)

  9. Now that I've reread my comment, I'm realizing the last paragraph came across wrong. I shouldn't have put those two sentences in the same paragraph - they're not related. I don't mean he is interested in you. Just purely fascinated.


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