Sunday, June 22, 2008

Three Festivals

We walked down to the local art festival yesterday. It's too bad we didn't register Atticus and Norah as a performance art installation; If we'd been able to charge all the people who stopped to coo over them we would have walked away with a good start to their college fund.

I'm always amazed by how often Paul and I have this conversation:

Bystander: "Ooh! Are they twins?!!"
Us: "No, they're three months apart." This is said in a tone we interpret to be pleasant, but rather final so as to discourage further discussion.
Bystander: "Huh. How did that happen?"
Us: "We adopted them."
Bystander: "So, are they really brother and sister?"
Us: "Um, yes. But they're not related biologically."

Is it really that hard to look at two white parents pushing a stroller with their two brown babies and make a couple of wild guesses about their family? Is it that necessary to find out more details about their personal lives? I don't mean to sound grumpy about it. I love showing off our kids and I don't mind talking about adoption. It's always in the back of my mind though that someday very soon Atticus and Norah are going to be able to understand these conversations. I doubt they're going to feel comfortable with people questioning the origin of our family every single time we go out. How do those of you who are adoptive parents handle curious (and clueless) onlookers? I want to strike a balance between being open and proud of our family while also discouraging total strangers from thinking that it's totally okay to ask personal questions about my kids in the middle of the grocery store. Is that even possible?

After the art fair we walked down to the river. Paul's company had a booth at the Eco-Fest and we wanted to make an appearance. When we got to the festival, however, the mood seemed rather...off. After a couple of minutes we realized we had mistakenly arrived at the Suicide Prevention Festival.

5 comments:

Jenny said...

The Suicide Prevention Festival ... I've never heard of such a thing!

As to the questions - I find the longer we've been home, the less I say. To the "how did that happen" question, I would probably get smart and say something like "you figure it out" and walk away. Because it's really non of their business, anyway! To the brother and sister question - me personally, I would just say yes and leave it at that. It's none of their business. You could always go with the "why do you ask?" or what's becoming my favorite "that's his personal story, and he deserves to know it first before you".

Now, if someone is honestly interested in the process or Ethiopia, then I'm all about answering general questions.

Basically, at our house, it's like this: he's our son. He came to us from Ethiopia. That's all you need to know.

It will be interesting to see how our answers evolve as the babies get bigger and not only understand, but answer themselves.

Nutmeg Reports... said...

Wow, I have so much to say. There is a Suicide Prevention Festival in South Bend? I have so many questions about that.

People are nosy and rude. Ask any pregnant woman; they endure horrible personal questions and inappropriate comments about their appearance almost hourly, not to mention being manhandled by strangers. My sister was asked constantly if she was having twins and then when she said no, people would reply, "You're HUGE!" Nice.

Anyway, I think you and Paul continue on doing what you're doing, teaching your kids that you love them and that you are proud of your family. You continue with your solid, positive-yet-firm stock response. " Of course they are 'really' brother and sister. We are a family. Duh." Your subtly pointing out that they are dumb should shut them up. If not, you keep walking.

I'm so proud of you.

shell said...

I am sorry about all the questions-we get them as well!!! It is amazing what people think they are entitled too! Once a woman thought I had given birth to all my children. Yeah, they are within 2.5 years, different colors, hilarious. Oh and Joe just asked me this morning "mom, why did you adopt me?" just wait......

Tricia said...

As the mother of eight kids (4 Caucasian, 3 Mexican and 1 Laos and Thai), we receive many of the same kinds of questions. They are annoying, but mostly well intentioned, and you get used to them...sort of.

alison said...

i would just try to stay positive. i know its probably very hard, but I doubt that any of those people mean anything rude by their questions. they've just probably never been exposed to transracial adoption before. maybe you're the only chance they have to see what a beautiful thing it is :)