"Are they yours? ... Both of them? ... Oh, so how old are they? ... They aren't twins, are they?"
"Oh, you must be the nanny."
"Those are some cute friends!"
"Are they cousins?"
"You must be babysitting one of them."
"Oh so he isn't yours, but that one is right?"
"Oh he is clearly your son." (Talking about bio babe who apparently is my twin).
"Are they fraternal twins?"
"Oh so they're not real brothers."
"How did you get two babies so close in age?"
"Bless your heart, I could never adopt or love a child that wasn't mine."
"I have always wanted a black baby."
"Interesting that one has curly hair..."
"Where did the curly hair come from?"
"He sure is tan."
"Is your husband black?"
"What is he?"
Are you tired yet? No? Try walking through these comments and questions every single outing, with your toddlers in tow.
This is the most common conversation I have while in public:
Stranger: "Wow your kids are so cute. You must have people stop you all the time. Are they twins?"
Me: "No, just close in age."
Stranger: "So how close? They look like twins."
Me: "They're almost five months apart."
Stranger: eye brow raise, waiting for me to answer; sometimes I answer, sometimes I move on, sometimes they press further and even stop me from walking. This is how the rest often goes:
Stranger: "How does that work?" or "Soooo..."
Me: "We adopted."
Stranger: "OH! WOW!" Entire demeanor changes, looks at me like I am some superhero.
Me: "Yes, we are blessed. Have a good day."
Stranger: "So how did you get two so close in age? Did they come at the same time?"
Me: "Okay, so we adopted while I was 20 weeks pregnant."
Stranger: "Ohhhh, so you tried to get pregnant for a really long time, resorted to adoption, then got pregnant with your own." Nodding as if they know our entire life story.
Me: "Not really how it worked! Here's my business card with my blog. I've got to take these tantruming babies to the car."
Ira may grow up thinking he was adopted and I am fine with that because there is zero shame. He won't actually, but the point is: I feel zero need to clarify—unless asked directly—that he is biological.
I love our story.
I love how heartache and loss crashed into deep wells of grace, overflowing with blessings.
I love that we have virtual twins, almost twins, twiblings...whatever you want to call them: I love it.
I have had countless conversations end up really well and another round of countless end up discouraging, hurtful and unacceptable. I've gotten to share the goodness and graciousness of adoption—and Jesus—as well as the reality that my son is not the lucky one—we are—seeing how his life began in the throes of loss.
I am not afraid to tell people my son was adopted, but I also don't want that to be his only identity to the public eye.
My friend Sam—an adoptee—said she grew up constantly hearing her parents proudly tell their amazing, beautiful adoption story. She agreed her story was beautiful, and loved it too. "But once in awhile I just wanted to be their kid. You know? I just wanted to be their daughter, without adoption on the forefront."
Her sharing this with me slowed me way down in the way I handle these constant comments and conversations. Sam's voice matters and helped me see from a new angle: the way I excitedly share about the beauty of adoption and how blessed we are to be his parents can often times be heard differently from the adoptee's perspective.
I decided we talk about adoption enough in our home and community, I wasn't going to go around blabbing my child's story and identity as adopted to every one that stopped to stare at us.
My son will know we celebrate adoption and his whole identity. He will know we see no shame in his being adopted.
I don't owe his story or that piece of his identity to anyone; I owe it to him to protect and respect him, even as a one year old.
When we first brought little man home and I was still pregnant, rounding with each day, we were constantly met with questions. Only 20 months later, and not much as changed about the constant-questioning but the way I answer them has changed a lot.
At first, I was so eager and excited to share with everyone how amazing the story was. How big God is. How amazing He provided and how beautiful community is. I was so excited to explicitly tell people we Iove Sage as though I birthed him—it truly did not matter that we did not share blood.
But now? Now I am much more careful, much more slow to speak, much more protective.
I do my best to be gracious and hope the best with every encounter. I work hard to kindly educate people and open their mind to a broader, more whole picture of family and adoption—when appropriate. I really do try to be honest and share how their select-wording can change for the better, and nearly always people are so gracious and thankful I've helped them choose better words.
Adoption has blessed me beyond my wildest dreams. Adoption made me a mom, and specifically, made me a mom to Sage. Sage is one of our greatest joys and blessings and we don't know what we would do without him.
I want everyone to know how incredibly amazing adoption can be, when you're willing to be humble about the entirety of it: the tragedy, the brokenness, the loss, and the beauty. I want everyone to know I love Sage the same as I love Ira. In my book, I wrote, "I love them as though I birthed them both, but also as though I adopted them both. It is the same, fierce, mama love." This couldn't be any more true.
But me wanting to ensure every person knows this truth is me wanting to control everyone's perception of adoption. This is far less important than protecting the heart of my son, who may not want "he is adopted" at the forefront of every single conversation with every single stranger who asks.
I know our family is and looks unique, bringing about curiosity to pretty much everyone we run into. I understand people are so eager to understand what is going on; some people outwardly pity us while others smile and root us on. Our world is interesting at the least.
All in all, I am a believer in grace and kindness.
Even when I withhold details from strangers, I do so with kindness. Even when I confront someone by telling me adoption is not what impregnated me—and they argue with me (true story #Costco)—I find confidence in the reality that I can be both gracious and firm.
Even though I know without a doubt my son's adoption is an intimate picture of the Gospel of Jesus, I do my best to balance revealing the Gospel to strangers and revealing the Gospel to my son...which means protecting his voice and story when doesn't yet have a voice.
If you're an (transracial or virtual twin) adoptive parent, how do you answer invasive questions?
If you're an adoptee, will you share your perspective?
I was interviewed a few month's ago by NPR's OPB about our transracial family, and they just released it. Click on the button to read or listen!
Have you waded through miscarriage? Are you an adoptive parent? What about a transracial adoptive parent? My book walks through our story of miscarriage, adopting while pregnant, virtual twins, and more. It walks through loss and brokenness, asking the question: can I be honest? What if my honesty seems ugly? It walks through me uncovering the fullness in life by recognizing tragedy and loss can coexist with joy and blessing.