When you have adopted children, it is always a struggle to answer people’s questions. You have to gauge what kind of response the person is looking for and the situation that surrounds the question that is being asked. Are they really interested? Are they asking because they’re just being polite? Do they mean well, but are misguided? Are the kids going to hear my response? Do I need to answer in a way that models understanding and compassion even when the question is asinine, or should I let them have it because they’re question is so beyond rude that I need to stop any further questions? It’s so much to weigh.
Social events are always like a breeding ground for these type of situations. My brother’s wedding this weekend is a good example. It takes one of these huge social gatherings to realize just how oblivious some people are. I know we’re an atypical family. My kids are black, FPD and I are not, and there are a lot more children in our family than are typical in a nuclear family in the United States. I understand that. I also understand, as well as the next parent of a high number of children, how curious looking we are. I’m used to the not so smart, or kind, comments. However, this weekend absolutely holds the record for idiotic and hurtful questions.
We always have the usual questions. You know, the ones that I live with on a daily basis and I probably shouldn’t be so annoyed at, yet I still am. We’ll call this line of questions the Green Zone. This category includes such winners as…
Are these all yours?
Aren’t you young to have SEVEN?
Don’t you have help?
How do you do it?
Aren’t you overwhelmed? I have *insert low number here* child(ren) and I’m overwhelmed!
Then there are the questions that raise my blood pressure and make my molars grind together, but you let them roll because you figure the person is just naturally curious, or just really uninformed. We’ll call these questions the Yellow Zone.
Do you think they all get enough attention?
Are you going to adopt anymore?
Aren’t you interested in having your own children?
Do you think they’ll want to go back to their real parents when they’re adults?
Then you’ve got a whole category of questions that should NEVER be asked, whether they’re in front of one of our kids or if you’re just with me. They’re the kind of questions that make me want to puke and usually come from people who lack any common sense at all. These are Red Zone questions, and there wasn’t alcohol enough in the free world, let alone at my brother’s wedding, to make me want to answer any of them. Yet, I spent all weekend dealing with them.
Do your kids know how lucky they are that you saved them?
Are any of your children’s birth parents in jail?
I could NEVER just GIVE AWAY my child? What in the world was their real mom thinking?
Which one of your kids was born addicted to drugs?
Are any of them real brothers and sisters?
I think it’s obvious why the first four Red Zone questions are so darn appalling, but the last one is probably the worst. I have spent the entirety of my time as a mother making sure my kids understand that they have each other in this world, come hell or high water, and with one question this person has made them wonder…are we really a family?
I can’t tell you how sad this makes me. My kids are old enough to understand now. The worst part is that I have a relative who sat two feet from my eldest two and talked about how “different” it would be when my brother has children, because they will be “genetic” grandchildren.
I watched my two eldest and didn’t know what to do. In the end, I said nothing. My new sister-in-law spent a fortune on this wedding. It would have been ruined if I had chosen to confront this person. They were probably drunk, and they would have made drama that no one needed. Now that it’s over, I’m sitting here wondering if I broach the subject with my kids. Do I ask them if they heard? I’m inclined not to. I don’t want to bring it up if they weren’t really listening. It’s possible they didn’t hear. If they did, that had to hurt so badly. If they didn’t though, then I’m just creating needless drama and heartache.
Whether they heard or not, this kind of thing breaks my heart for them. It also makes me wish that, just for a little while, we weren’t so conspicuous. Not that I would change who they are, or how they look, but if for just a few days we could all live without the constant questions, the double takes, and the ignorant comments, I would do it.
Mostly, I wish the real world would just disappear for a little while. Do I wish my family away with them though? We lost a lot of friendships and relatives when we made the decision to adopt the kids from Ghana. Our lives became almost too ‘out there’ for some people to handle. So, they just backed away. Those kind of relationships were easy to let go of. This is my family though. Do I walk away from family?
After this, I’m tempted to. I’m tempted to just tell myself that this was the turning point and then try to shut out the outside world for as long as humanly possible. If that includes my family, then so be it.
Alas, I know that’s not possible, and probably isn’t good for anyone.
It doesn’t stop me from wishing it away though. Just for today.
who knows that the real world is called real for a reason.