When you've got a child who's not the same skin color as you, you've gotta be prepared.
For the stares, sure. But most especially for the questions. From total strangers.
Are you fostering?
Are you babysitting?
Where's his real mom?
How old was he when you got him?
I was shielded from alot of these interactions with Caroline, but not so much with a transracial adoption.
But just because I'm prepared for the questions doesn't mean they're any less awkward to deal with when they come. It's even more complex now that my daughter is old enough to hear and comprehend the questions herself.
This morning, immediately after meeting my children, a woman turned to me and said (in front of them), "Is she (meaning Caroline) really yours? Like, really, really yours?"
(implying Jameson was not "really, really mine"...)
"Oh, are you asking if she is adopted, too? Yes she is and both of my kids are really, really mine," I quickly responded, trying to gently correct her obvious misperceptions about adoption (and not to mention, lack of tact.)
"You've had them since birth?" she pried even further.
"Yes," I answered her shortly. My mind was already spinning about what conversations I'd be having with Caroline upon this woman's departure.
At least the woman had the sense to wait until Caroline left the room before she began asking me about her baldness, assuming she was in remission from chemo.
I'm careful to give people the benefit of the doubt in these conversations. I don't expect people to know what alopecia is. I don't expect people to know if Jameson is my son or not. Naturally, our family raises questions in people's minds.
I know that in giving me this family, and these children, God has forever made me a spokeswoman and representative for things like transracial adoption and for alopecia. Right there in my job description next to "kiss boo-boo's" and "teach manners" is "answer people's ridiculous questions about why my daughter doesn't have hair and why my son's skin doesn't look the same as mine."
It's my job as a mom to shield my children from people's insensitive and curious questions, and my goal is always to demonstrate graciousness while providing correction and awareness where needed. I know my kids are watching and listening, and I want to empower them with the words to handle themselves in these situations as they grow.
But I'd also like for people to use a small measure of thoughtfulness, too. Is that too much to ask? Can I just request one thing-- DO NOT ASK IF MY CHILDREN ARE REALLY MINE IN FRONT OF THEM.
My children are really mine. Like, really really really mine.
Does it matter in an introduction how my daughter came into this world and into my family? We don't seem to say, "This is my 10 year old son who was born cesarean after 15 hours of difficult labor." Does it matter if my children came out of my tummy or someone else's when you introduce them?
When I say I'm the "real mom," I am not implying that my children's birthmothers aren't. I am ALL for birth families, (especially my children's- we love you!) and they are just as real and apart of my children's stories as I am.
But whether a child came out of her tummy or mine doesn't make a mom real or fake. (that's called "adoptism" by the way)
Birthparents/biological parents are real. Adoptive parents are real.
To imply otherwise IN FRONT OF MY DAUGHTER, who is beginning to have those natural developmental questions in her adoption journey, is not helpful or appropriate.
And it makes Mama Bear pretty darn angry, too.
But you know, God even uses the inappropriate words of others for His glory and our good. Over lunch today, I talked with the kids about what had happened this morning. "Mom, she was weird," was Caroline's first reaction to the situation.
"But yeah, Mom, there was this girl today who was asking me if Jameson was my brother, and I was like 'yeah he is' and she said, 'But what color is your mom and Dad?' and I told her our colors and she didn't believe me."
"Oh, because she probably thinks families have to match," I said. "But do families have to match in color?"
"NO!" both of my kids answered in unison. (Ahhh, I have trained them well.)
We began listing out all of the families we know who "don't match," including our sweet neighbors across the street.
We rehearsed what to say when someone says, "That's not your mom!" or "Your family is different." (the answer to the latter being, "Yep, we are different and we love being different.")
We talked about how beautiful all skin tones are. I asked Jameson if he likes his brown skin.
"Yes!" he shouted.
"You should be very proud of it! We all love your chocolate skin."
Those are important conversations that need to be had in our house.
And I'm prayerfully hopeful that those same conversations are happening in your home, too.