As a transracial, adoptive family, we've been subjected to a variety of comments, looks, and sounds (a sigh, a "uhhhh huhhhhh, a light laugh, etc.). Most, to be fair, have been positive.
The weekend before last, our family had three rather interesting adoption conversations with strangers.
1: We enter St. Louis Bread Company to eat lunch. We pick a seat near the gas fireplace (ahhhh). A family is sitting at the table on the other side of the fireplace: mom, dad, six-year-old daughter, and a infant. The daughter spots us, immediately walks over, and asks me, "Are those your kids?"
I say to her, "Yes. They are adopted." (I can tell she's asking because we don't "match.") She proceeds to ask me a few more questions, and her parents just look on, not really disapproving or interjecting. I tell her, "A different mommy had them and couldn't take care of them, so we take care of them." The little girl asks, "Do they still see her [their other moms]?" I say, "Yes, they do get to see their birth moms." The little girl proceeds to tell me that her little sister uses different bottles than we do and her sister's name.
The mom tells her daughter it's time to order food. After they walk away, the dad leans my direction and says, "Thank you! You were so gracious." I responded that little kids her age are curious and the questions do not bother me.
(I really hope I did ok in this instance. A fellow adoptive mom of a ten-year-old said adoption is hard to explain until you can explain the "birds and the bees" simply because biology and "where do babies come from?" plays a huge part in adoption. Obviously I wasn't going to give this little girl THE talk, so I had to make-do).
2: So we eat our lunch and when we are about to leave, an older woman approaches us and says, "You have a beautiful family." We say thanks, and she tell us she has SIX daughters. I watch my husband's eyes widen. (After all, two is a lot of work...imagine 2 x 3!)
3: Communion was held at church the following day. Miss E was in the nursery, but Baby E was with us in church. As we proceeded up the aisle to take communion, I could feel stares of people. This isn't unusual considering 1: we are carrying a newborn and people love to look at babies and 2: our baby is obviously a different race. After church, an African American woman came up to my husband (as we were getting our girls ready to leave) and said, "It's so good you take care of those kids." My husband responded, "Well, they are our daughters." (The woman assumed the girls were foster babies, we think). She then smiled and made a few more comments before walking away.
Our family attracts attention. And I hope we can respond each time we are asked about our family in a way that is gracious, educational, and honest. I want my girls to be proud of what I say---never feeling ashamed, embarrassed, or angry. I want them to be proud of who they are, where they came from, and the possibilities that are ahead.
I have no idea the impact that my words will have on a stranger. I just hope that with God's wisdom and grace, that I say the right words for all involved.