-photo by Emily Dobson Photography; used with permission-
“Are you the nanny?”
“Is her father dark?”
“Why didn’t you have your own kids?”
“How old is their real mom?”
“Isn’t adoption really expensive?”
“What country is your daughter from?”
After a decade of being part of the adoption community, joining the ranks after a devastating medical diagnosis, I am quite used to the questions hurled at us by strangers.
I get it. They’re curious. I mean, we are an interesting bunch. Two white parents and four Black children.
After adopting our first child, a Black baby girl with a full head of curly hair and large, chocolate eyes, I was prone to answer nosy questions. I didn’t want to come off as rude or insecure.
But with each child, each addition to our family, I gained my “sea legs,” and learned that what was most important was protecting my children’s privacy, holding the details of their sacred adoption stories in my heart, rather than spewing them from my mouth to appease another person who approached us to get “the scoop” on how our family came to be.
I am certainly not ashamed of our multiracial family. Each of my children’s adoption stories is beautiful in its own unique way. But those stories are private. And holy. And not for public distribution.
So when we’re approached, which is less and less often now that I look like a deranged mother trying to herd four kids somewhere safely and (hopefully) happily, I no longer hesitate to answer in a way that puts my child first.
Stranger: “Are they real siblings?”
Me: “Well, they aren’t fake siblings.”
Stranger: “What country are they from?”
Me: (giggles) “Missouri.”
Stranger: “How old is their real mom?”
Me: “I’m thirty-six.”
Stranger: "Why didn't you have your own kids?"
Me: "These are my own kids."
My children, who are the four precious souls standing beside me, are always listening and learning. They are listening to how I respond and formulating how they can do the same. And they are learning. They are learning that their mother values them, their birth families, and their stories more than the opinion or need-to-know of a stranger.
Ten years ago, I was a new mom. A new mom to an obviously adopted Black baby girl. And today, today I’m an experienced mom, to four obviously adopted Black children. The difference? Today I am more certain than ever that the precious children I was chosen to raise are far more important than the curiosity of a person we will never meet or see again.
I have gained my voice. And by doing so, I am empowering my kids to gain theirs, too.
The Hopeful Mom's Guide to Adoption: The Wit and Wisdom You Need for the Journey is available wherever books are sold.