When we were in the process of adopting, our agency offered adoptive-parenting classes, during these many classes they warned us that since our family will not necessarily fit the look of a ‘traditional’ family, we may get unwanted odd and often rude comments from strangers.
We hadn’t even left Guatemala before we received our first comment/question in the airport. It was from an older man from the United States, he was in Guatemala on a missionary project “Did you get a two-for-one deal?” I was so taken by surprise with this comment I really don’t even remember replying.
After arriving home, a common question that we received was “Where are they from?” This bothered me and I was always quick to reply “Here” or “Why do you ask?” both in a defensive tone. Slowly I learned that most of these people were harmless, just curious and they just weren’t sure how to bridge a conversation. Some turned out to have friends or family that had adopted or some have been adopted themselves, and they enjoy sharing their story. I now answer in a friendly tone “They were born n Guatemala”. If D&L were within earshot of the question, I let them answer.
Early on when L&D were just under 2 years old, I was at a park with a friend and her two children (an African American foster son, and an adopted Caucasian daughter). An older gentleman was there with his grandson and he asks us “Ya’ll run a day care?” our simultaneous reply was “No, they are all ours”.
Another frequent comment is…”Do you know anything about their Mom?” my reply is usually “Well, I am there Mom, but I do know a little about their birth mothers” If they press for more information, I just let them know that it is not my story to tell, and that story belongs to L&D.
By far the most common question we get is “Are they brother and sister?” People ask this question right in front of L&D all the time, so I let them answer “Lola is Diego your brother? “ and of course the reply is always a big resounding YES! I realize that what they are really asking is are they biological siblings, which they are not, but they most definitely are brother and sister!
Just this week I was with L&D and we were at a yogurt shop and the guy that was waiting on us asked where they are from, then he asked “Do you take care of them?”, I answered in a friendly tone, half laughing “Oh I have to, they are my kids”
I have come to learn that for the most part people are just curious and they speak without really thinking. I now always approach these questions with a very upbeat tone. It is also a matter of education, and each question and interaction is an opportunity to teach. As our Ohana grows, I am sure there will be more questions/comments and with that more opportunities to educate.