Please step away from the shopping cart

My family and I were out shopping today and a grandfatherly man said loudly and in our direction, “I see an adoption!”

I knew he was talking about us, the two white people with our black and white daughters.  I was trying my best to ignore him, paying attention to the items in my cart.

He came closer and asked more directly, “Have you adopted?  Where is she from?  Will I see you in church on Sunday?”

My husband, Okey, replied, “Yes, one of our daughters is adopted.”

I replied, “Local.”

We said, “Yes, we go to church.”  (For the record we likely won’t see him on Sunday at our church.)

Sometimes I feel like there’s this arrow which points people to us.  Usually if people say why they are interested in our family, I respond better to their inquiries.  However, it just felt like our family was a novelty to him.  I didn’t feel like putting on a show.

Wren and I are so in tune with each other, I could sense that she was awkward around him.  Was it because of how he spoke or did she pick up on my apprehensions?  I realized that the novelty of our family will never fade and that our sweet daughter will be subjected to this for the rest of her life.  It made me sad that I can’t give her normalcy.

Then he wanted to touch our sweet Wren, and I told him “No.”  I tried to explain that we were recently recovering from colds (it’s true), and I tried to make it obvious that we had a newborn too that I didn’t want to get sick.  Then he tried to shake my hand, and I’ve never felt more like Adrian Monk the fictitious germaphobic detective.  Okey shook hands with the grandfatherly man, and no joke, I went in search of sanitation wipes.

Although I want to wipe away this experience, I know that encounters like this will never end.  The question is, will we ever be prepared for them?

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