You have to prepare for the moment when a stranger asks you something that catches you off guard when your children don’t look like you. Let me give you an example. We were at a fancy resort in Maui, stepping out of our hotel room on a brisk morning in Hawaii. My littlest, then 2, ran up to a lady about to clean the room next door. “Hi!”, she says smiling with her tiny pearly whites. “Well, hello” says the nice lady wearing her apron.
We all say good morning and start to pass by. She takes a second look t Bella and says “She is so beautiful. I love that you gave her a perm.” Chuckling inside, I smiled and nodded. The concept of giving a 2 year old a perm still amuses me to this day. Yet, the idea that she looked like us all except for those curls was so amusing.
I have not always been this amused. This is how I practiced and prepared myself for these moments so they do not ruin my day.
There are really three ways to combat questions about adoption, interracial families or any family where the kids don’t look the same. Truth, humor and avoidance. I am being completely forthcoming when I say that I had to practice saying these. things. I heard myself oversharing, and oversharing. I heard it and I just knew it wasn’t best for her.
At the time of most of the oversharing, she was an infant. It seemed harmless and all she went through was so raw on her minds. Talking about it was therapeutic to us as parents, but as time went on she started to understand what we were saying I wished I could take it all back.
These are actual things that have been said to us!
Did you adopt your daughter internationally or through foster care?
- Truth: We adopted her through Foster Care.
- Humor: She is actually a super human child born on Kal-El. Like Superman!
- Avoidance: Oh! I forgot to tell you about…
What I actually said and wished I hadn’t. “We tried international adoption and failed. We were hesitant about foster care because… wa… wa.. wa… wa.. wa…”
Adopting a child is like getting a dog from the SPCA, you really wont know what is wrong with them until you bring them home.
- Truth: I didn’t experience adopting a child to be anything like adopting at the SPCA.
- Humor: Yes. It is exactly the same thing as adopting a Labrador.
- Avoidance: Get up and refresh your sparkling water.
The bigger shocker was that this couple were both social workers, and even worse they were good friends of a sibling. We had never met them and they knew details of our story that felt really invasive to our personal lives.
Because they knew so much, they shared their opinions in a way that was really invasive. An immediate email went out to family to kindly not share our adoption story – in the most loving of ways.
What I actually said “Actually raising a beautiful child is nothing like getting a dog from the SPCA. I really hope you don’t have children.” Said while looking at their half naked child with popsicle smear on her face running wild. Totally not my finest moment, but it definitely wasn’t theirs.
So does her father have that curly hair?
- Truth: Yes, he does.
- Humor: I wish I could remember that night.
- Avoidance: I just love how her curls spring.
What I actually said, “I have no idea”. She had only lived with me two weeks which meant I was still learning. My answer brought a look of shock to this grandmothers face. I was being honest (still practicing my humor), but I love that she thought I could not pin it down.
Do you have a relationship with her real mother?
- Truth: her biological mother has passed away
- Humor: Oh my goodness. Am I not real? (starts patting her arms and legs)
- Avoidance: Have you heard the new song by Beyoncé?
What I actually say is the truth, but it opens a dialog. I am working toward humor because at this point I am just mom. This child has suffered a great loss loosing the love and life of her biological mother. As much as I am her real mom, this tragedy and pain is not lost on me. I believe that her biological mother, who is now in heaven, and myself are both her mothers.