"We are all handmade people created by a God who is not safe or small." Rend Collective Experiment

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Proverbs 25:11~

A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver. Proverbs 25:11

Whenever we go anywhere we are the object of questions and stares. I understand this. We are an unusual family both in size and in diversity. To tell you the truth, if I saw us out and about I would be incredibly curious. So, I really try and be understanding of people and their questions. I am also very concious that as a Christian I represent my Lord. It has been a struggle to come up with responses that are kind and yet protect our boys.

We have had an overwhelmingly positive response to our boys. We do get a lot of questions. Many times people will ask if I am a daycare provider or a foster mom. However, if anyone is around us for more than a few minutes they will quickly realize, by the constant chirp of Mama, that we are a family.

When we go out and about I am pretty focused on the children. Making sure everyone is happy, behaving, and not losing anyone takes quite a bit of my energy. Throw in trying to shop and I am in a "Zone". I realize people are staring and sometimes they will talk about you literally right behind your back and also loud enough for you to hear. I have become very good at not letting on that I notice or even hear.

Now I love adoption, and if someone is interested in adoption I will share any info I have. Many times though it is simple curiosity or nosiness. I think the era of Phil Donahue, Oprah. Jerry Springer, and now reality TV have left people with the impression that they have a right to know all about you and your private family life.

I don't expect people to know all the politically correct adoption lingo either. Many times people simply don't realize how their questions come across. Where the conflict comes in is they don't realize how their questions can hurt adopted children.

Our children's pasts and their stories are their business. They are young now, but as they grow older they surely don't need everyone from the gorcery clerk to the lady at McDonald's knowing how they became an orphan.

The most common questions we get are..

1. Which Ones are Yours? They are all ours.

I understand that what people really want to know is which ones are adopted children and which ones are biological children? Since the arrival of Sweet Pea we get this a lot. People are constantly asking where she came from ;o). They assume she is adopted too.

2. Are they REAL brothers? Again what they want to know is if they are biologically related. Of course they are real brothers. They play together, laugh together, eat together, sleep together. They wrestle and sometimes fuss with each other. They are brothers in every sense of the word. They simply lack the same blood. They would be apalled if someone thought they weren't brothers. Our oldest Ethiopian son is very proud of his relationships within our family. You can hear it in his tone when he says MY Daddy or MY Mama, MY brother. He proudly talks about HIS baby sister to strangers. He deeply values these relationships he lost early in life.

I would love to hear how other adoptive Moms respond to these questions. I would love to hear if you have older adopted children how they feel about these questions.

Thanks and Blessings!


Anonymous said...

Hi Renee,
Can you please e-mail me at chalmers 88 at mac dot com? I have a friend who is in process for a group of 4 siblings in Ethiopia who would like to correspond with you.

Melanie in WA

Robin's Reports said...

No comments other than I love your big family. And happy belated birthday wishes to "L" - AKA "M" puppy love friend.

Sue said...


This is a great question. Since I am a new adoptive mom, I have not had too many intrusive questions, yet.

I had an older lady stare at us in the store the other day. I only had Daniel (Ethiopian) and my 6 yr old with me. She looked at Daniel in the cart, and gave me a blank stare. We passed her again, and she did the same thing, and kept looking back and forth at me, then the baby.

I just pretended that I did not see her.

One person on CAFE Kids made up adoption business cards to hand out. Basically telling people that their children's info is personal and they could turn the card over to find out more about helping the orphans or adoption. She would just hand them the card and walk away. She said it usually stopped them from asking anything else. I thought that was a great idea!

Sue :)

Robin's Reports said...

I love the new blog look! And you have links! Cool girlfriend!

Life in Fitzville said...

I like that business card idea! I have 7 kids our most recent coming from Haiti last year, so I get many of the same questions. There was a post about this recently on the Anti-Racist Parent blog.

When people have asked about which ones are "real" I have taken to pretending to pinch each of them while saying "This one feels real...."

Anne Devlin said...

I enjoy reading your blog - saw you on the SL boards :-) We were thinking about going to Ethiopia for another child until we found out we are expecting another bio babe...
As for the "are they real brothers" comment, we get this with our two littles - Lily from China and Ben from Guatemala, but they do look somewhat similar. I always say, "they are now!" with a big smile and continue on my way. I've only had one person ask further about biological relation and then I just asked why they wanted to know. As they had no good answer, it ended the nosiness. I do try to be open, within boundaries as I think it is a wonderful way to intorduce the idea of adoption to others. Once I was that woman who didn't know what the "right" thing was to say or ask...
-Anne :-)

Deb said...

I can totally relate about people talking about you and your kids right behind you. What is so strange to me is how they think we can't hear them! Your family is adorable and what a blessing to be "different".

cathy said...

This is one of my biggest pet-peeves. I cannot believe how many people ask me, "Are they brother and sister?"...while my kids are standing right there. It broke my heart the day my son said, "You mean Lily isn't my sister?" He was 4 at the time and this happened at the grocery store. I really hate this question because it implies that because my children are adopted, every stranger on the street has the right to find out all the details of my kids' lives. I have since come to peace with how to answer this. If I'm in public or the person asking is a casual acquaintance, I answer "Yes." And that's it. If it's a close friend or someone asking about our adoptions in a sincere, loving way, I answer "They are now." I have to give the rest to God and let Him deal with it. Sounds like you have a good handle on it. I'm glad you posted about it.