"Are you my mother?" the baby bird asked the kitten. -P.D. Eastman
When I was very pregnant last summer, my sister offered to take my oldest on a shopping date to the . Hours later they returned and my sister had a worried look on her face.
“Is this what happens to you whenever you go out?”
My sister explained that several different people approached her to find out how she was related to my daughter. Where did she “get her?” Was she the nanny? She could be. We all read But then she couldn’t be. She was dressed in her ultra-expensive business attire. Could she be the mother? Well, she couldn’t be that either. Their skin colors don’t match.
I got what was troubling my sister. “Oh, that. I get that all the time.”
The big difference between me and my sister is sarcasm.
When people ask me “Are they yours?” I tell them, “These are the ones they gave me in the hospital.” I know they are asking if I’m the nanny or their mother. If I gave birth to my kids or if I adopted them. Does it matter? I am still their mommy.
For our children’s generation, the perception of race and family will be vastly different from ours. Pink mom, brown daughter, brown mom, pink son.
I noticed that I have lots of friends who don’t match their kids, and I asked them about their family life.
From Jill Chandler: “Before we started the adoption process the first time, we prayed long and hard about the impact that becoming part of a multiracial family would have on our children. We’re blessed with a loving family that was very accepting of the idea. But the kids have to face it daily. We pray that we are providing a strong, loving, faithful family foundation from which they can grow into confident, independent adults. Our children’s adoptions are obvious, so it has been easy to make their own personal adoption story something we talk about easily whenever they choose
Our children attend a summer camp exclusively for international adoptees by Holt International Children’s Services. It’s a wonderful combination of summer camp stuff with a healthy dose of ‘what’s it like to be an adoptee who doesn’t look like everyone else in your family.
Some of the adoptees had new experiences when they went to college because their adoptive status wasn’t immediately obvious since no one knew or saw their family on campus. Some tried attending clubs like the Korean Student Association, but didn’t feel they fit in because their cultural upbringing was in the US. I found that interesting and something we intend to talk about before our kids head off to school.”
From Heather Borowski: “Right after the adoption, everywhere in Beijing, elderly people would approach me and point to Zander and then to me and say with much disbelief, "Mama?" I wished I could have replied in Mandarin, "What? He doesn't look like me?"
From M. V. Freeman: “My husband Steve is Hispanic and via genetics one daughter looks like him and one like me. We couldn't decide on any names from either family. I wanted names like Morrigan or Isabella, but we settled on Russian names because Steve and I had studied that language together.”
When I am with my youngest daughter Svetlana (with the brown hair) no one believes she is mine. When my oldest daughter Tatyana is with her dad, people have asked him if she is his. Even at school they get asked if they are related!
One pediatrician asked if I adopted them from Russia, she thought Svetlana came from Gypsies and Tatyana from another area. I have had to tell people that they both are really mine. Still, even if they were adopted, they would be mine because the heart doesn't know the difference.”
From Stacey Labouchere: “You could write a whole article about the things that people say to people "like us" in a grocery store! I find my youngest daughter’s simplicity about the subject refreshing. She often points out when we are holding hands, ‘Look Mom! It’s a pattern: , brown, peachy tan, brown, peachy tan, brown, peachy tan, brown, peachy tan.’ I love my family's patterns. The patterns of our interlaced fingers, bedtime routines, holiday traditions, and Friday family movie nights. These are the things that make me the Mom that I am.”
I am rarely sentimental. For all I know, my kids are cyborgs. But when people ask me where they came from, I do pause. I do wonder. Where did they come from? I know about the birds and bees ... sort of. I look into my kids eyes and can't remember how I came to be a mom.
How should I respond to that question? It was magic. It was a blessing. No matter where our children come from, no matter what we look like, it is always a mystery ... and a miracle. Enjoy yours!