Strange Conversations with Strangers about Adoption

I’m thinking I should start up a series of blog posts called Strange Conversations with Strangers about Adoption, but that’s a bit lengthy of a title for an ongoing series so I’ll be mulling it over until the next blog article begs to be posted.

Our family does not match, and people cannot resist approaching us to figure it out.  I don’t know why people want to know where our daughter is from.  We get asked what country she is from constantly.

The first Sunday after we brought Wren home from the hospital, a gentleman in our church approached us and the conversation went like this:

He said:  Oh, great! The two of you are babysitting.

I said:  No.  This is my daughter!

He said:  Oh, where in Africa is she from?

I said:  No… She’s from here.

[Okey has decided to add an accent to the name of the well-known local city in which she was born since he figures people want an exotic answer.]

A parking garage attendant spotted me carrying Wren, and that conversation went like this:

He said:  Is she from Ethiopia?

I said:  No.  Are you?

[He was.]

Twice this past week, well-meaning acquaintances asked if we would adopt another child from the same country.

I said:  Yes.  I would.

Then there are people who assume we are related by blood but can’t quite figure out the connection.

When Okey and I were visiting his grandmother in West Virginia, his father introduced us to another visitor at the nursing home. The lady was so confused that she sought clarification.

She said:  If the two of you [meaning Okey and me] are brother and sister, then who’s the little girl’s parent?

[I still don’t understand how Okey and me being siblings made more sense.]

Then there was the conversation I got when just Wren and I are out shopping.  The cashier was trying so hard to figure us out.

He said:  She must have her father’s face.

I said:  Uh, I guess.

We stopped by the alley to visit our old bowling league.  A new bowler approached us, and the conversation went like this:

He said:  Oh, so is this your niece?

I said:  No.  This is our daughter.

He said: Oh, how great of you to adopt her from Africa.

I said:  Umm, she’s not from Africa.

And sometimes there are just awkward conversations like when the nursing students in the hospital were encouraging me to breastfeed my daughter.  That conversation went like this:

She said:  Breastfeeding has been shown to have more health benefits for a newborn child.  You should consider it.

I said:  Oh, I don’t think that it’s an option for me.

She said, curiously:  Why not?

I said, straight-faced:  I just don’t think I’ll be able to lactate.

– –

For truly serious in-depth conversations about adoption, please check out Don’t We Look Alike? DWLA is generally about adoption, primarily international adoption, and often-times transracial adoption.  Every post has been insightful,  and I highly recommend it to everyone in my circles.

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3 thoughts on “Strange Conversations with Strangers about Adoption

  1. Once when Mea was a baby we walked past a black family at our local grocery store. They had a little girl who was probably 6-7. As soon as we were just past them, she said to her Mom, “What is that white woman doing with a black baby?”

    Makes more sense when the questions are coming from a child than from an adult doesn’t it?

    Reply
  2. Pingback: “Are they both yours?” | Polly's Blog

  3. Even when people don’t comment, the strange looks I receive when I’m with my parents alone are enough. I’ve been asked if I’m an international student and these nice folks are my host parents, my mom is often assumed to be a family friend, or people will just come up and start babbling about adoption. I still don’t know which is worse – when people from the outside assume I’m adopted or when they make ignorant comments, prying for answers. I don’t see why my family simply being out together as a family should be turned into some informative display case for curious passers by.

    Reply

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