So, I’d been warned about the crazy things that people will say to adoptive parents. I’ve always said that I hoped to be able to handle those conversations with grace. Some adoptive parents get very very very offended if they are asked a question in a wrong way. But any way that a question is asked sometimes seems like the “wrong way”. In general, don’t ask questions like this:
“Where did you get your kid?” (This one doesn’t bother me as much, but some people don’t like to be asked. As kids get older and are aware of the questions being asked about them, it does get ruder to ask directly. Sometimes kids want to just go and be and not be a “show” wherever they go. This question doesn’t really bother me right now, but I don’t know my feelings later on.)
“Where did they come from?” (Again, similar to the first question. There are just nicer ways to phrase it I guess. If you see a family and really want to know if the child is adopted, sometimes it’s better to start with, “You have a beautiful family.” and see where it goes. Again, this one doesn’t bother me much right now.)
“How much did that baby cost you?” (Yes, people do say things like that. You see why it’s offensive, right? Surely I don’t have to explain that one. Nobody asks biological moms how much a labor and delivery costs. And they could be close to the same cost – believe me! If you’re really curious, go home and look it up or something. Or just believe me.)
I also have been warned by moms of biological twins that there are plenty of weird questions there too.
Both adoptive moms of singletons and twins moms have talked about not being able to get through the grocery store (or wherever they are) with lots of questions or attention. So I’ve been ready.
I really haven’t gotten much! I’ve kind of waited for the big WHOA statement or question, and I haven’t gotten it! I tend to walk fast though and I have noticed myself not making eye contact with people as much. I don’t know why. I just feel a little stand out-ish walking anywhere with 5 kids – adopted or all under the age of 8 or a set of twins or not. I do like to watch people looking at them when they don’t know I’m watching them. Almost everyone just smiles when they see them. They ARE cute! I love seeing people enjoying them. I enjoy them immensely as well. And it doesn’t bother me to have people stare at them! I would too.
I don’t understand moms who get soooo angry and irritated at the attention they get when they are out. I’m like, heck yeah, look at my cute babies and big kids! I have a beautiful family!!! And what better way to be a walking advertisement for adoption. I recognize I’m only 5 weeks in, but still. I never got irritated at old ladies kissing my other three babies’ cheeks or holding their hands. I didn’t carry around antiseptic wipes to wipe off stranger germs or anything. So maybe it’s just my personality.
I will say though at this point, I like to keep conversations to about 30 seconds. For one, if I stop too long to talk while the girls are in the stroller they get restless. Second, I know I have a window of patient calm from them in the stroller/car seat/total errand time – it usually lasts about 45 minutes. If I’m running a 20 minute Target trip, and I have two 10 minute driving trips along with 5 minutes or so on each end for loading and unloading everyone, that doesn’t leave much cushion time. So if you see me out and I seem to cut you off or get nervous/antsy acting, it’s only because I’m doing an internal countdown of the scream-free minutes I have left! I’m sure this will get better with time, but for now I still get really nervous anytime we’re out – especially if I have all five by myself! Because believe me, the other three are not usually standing quietly and patiently beside me waiting for my next command. HA! I just laughed out loud at that mental picture! I crack myself up. And I shouldn’t blog late at night maybe…
Anyway, back to the topic at hand. Besides smiles, the comment I get the most is, “You’ve got your hands full!” or something along those lines. And usually I don’t have all five with me. I just say, “Yep, but it’s a good full!” and keep going. Again, it doesn’t offend me. Some people do get really mad about that statement though too.
But I did get a doozy of a statement a couple of weeks ago! Here’s the scene:
I was in Home Depot picking up paint to finish the girls’ room as 1 gallon of pale pink paint was apparently not enough to cover what I thought was pretty light blue paint. We even had the paint + primer, but we needed three coats! WHEW!
Well, it was just me and the girls. It was Sunday morning – one of the mornings the big kids all went with Daddy. The girls were of course in their stroller, and it was just a kind of slow-going, easy morning. There was NOBODY at Home Depot at 10 am on a Sunday. NOBODY. So I wasn’t quite as nervous as I am sometimes. If they screamed and lost it, there’d only be a few employees around to witness it. And I knew it was a short errand.
We were waiting for the paint to get mixed, and the grizzly looking man at the paint counter leaned over and was talking to the girls. He was very sweet to them, but he was pretty tough looking. Like maybe the Harley type if I was being stereotypical – definitely didn’t look like a I-love-talking-to-babies-type. He and the younger kid working with him were both talking to the girls. Of course the girls don’t respond… because they are babies.
It’s always kind of awkward when someone says to a baby, “Well, hello there. How old are you?” Or “And what’s your name?” I want to kind of stand there and not say anything, just smiling along with them and waiting for the baby to answer. Of course they are asking me to answer, and I guess they just like to do baby talk. But I always find that weird.
So Grizzly and College Kid didn’t have a long conversation with the girls – obviously. Lyla and Sosie busted out their waving trick when Mr. Grizzly said “Hi” to them, which always is pretty quick to impress.
Mr. Grizzly was doing most of the talking and College Kid was only kind of half-interested. Since the baby conversation stalled, I knew they were going to talk to me about SOMETHING. And I kind of figured a question of some sorts was coming, and then there it was.
Mr. Grizzly leaned towards me, and he rested his elbows on the counter. He looked right at me and with a just as serious expression said:
“So…. how long was your delivery with them?”
You want to know how long my delivery was with them?
I was instantly laughing on the inside. A million thoughts were running through my head, and it took my brain a second to catch up to the question I guess.
I laughed out loud and said, “Oh they aren’t mine! I mean, they are mine, but they are adopted!”
What a question! I think one of my first thoughts was, “This is going to be a good blog post!” Which maybe you aren’t as amused as I am, but I thought it was insanely funny given the context and the characters at hand!
Soooo…. when is it okay for Mr. Grizzly paint mixing man at Home Depot to ask how long a woman’s delivery was? Or anyone – grizzly or not? Woman at the bank? Unless you are my OB or OB nurse or BFF, you shouldn’t ask that!
Like what if I had started spilling out all the story of my labor and when my water broke and other oooey-gooey details? Like would he have been comfortable with that? I almost wished I had a story to delve into to kind of shock him.
I remember when I was very pregnant with Everett someone asked me how dilated I was… Really? And it was someone I didn’t even know. Just hanging out at the mirrors at church, and I guess that’s the only thing that popped into her mind to say… “So how far dilated are you?” HILARIOUS! Although I don’t think I found that one as funny at the time. 9 months pregnant in July – probably not much of anything was very funny!
So back to Mr. Grizzly. As he was mixing up my paint, we kind of talked some more. He seemed genuinely surprised that I didn’t deliver the girls. Like shocked face and kind of jumped back – seemed a little embarrassed. (Embarrassed that they were in fact adopted. Not embarrassed that he asked how long my delivery was!)
While we were turning the conversation around, I was thinking to myself a million questions trying to figure out where he was coming from, like:
DO they look ANYTHING like me? Is there a family resemblance? I mean, I’m not seeing one… The girls don’t look the slightest bit bi-racial to me! They are pretty dark-skinned! But I guess sometimes bi-racial kids can appear darker or lighter.
Was that his “polite” way of asking about them being adopted, but he seemed genuinely surprised when I said that they were. It was really, really strange. And funny to me.
I wish I’d gotten a look at the College Kid’s face. He did perk up though and started talking about how cool he thought adoption was. And that he wants to adopt someday too. I love that the generation slightly younger than me is so comfortable with adoption.
Anyway, I still really wasn’t offended. He wasn’t being critical of adoption or our family. And maybe it’s because I appreciate a good, personal question. I really like to get to KNOW people and sometimes ask questions that people are surprised at. It’s not that I ask questions like THAT, but I do like getting to figure out what makes someone tick. What else are relationships for than getting to really KNOW people?!? I love hearing people’s stories.
But not your delivery stories. Keep those to yourself…
What’s the weirdest or most personal question YOU have ever gotten about a pregnancy, your child, or your adoption??? Do you get offended?