Saturday, March 17, 2012

Is He Adopted?

He's adopted.


Although this didn't stop the photographer at his 3-year-old photo shoot from continuing to ask incredibly pointed questions.

"Are they both yours?"


"Are they...brothers?"

"Um. Yes."

" mean...the little one is adopted right?"

Well, since I'm standing here and my husband is standing here and we're clearly white as paste, what do you think?

"Yes." Although, how on earth do you know that the older one isn't adopted?

"Where did he come from?"

"California." This answer always seems to slightly shock people. I assume they're looking for a response more like Ethiopia or Haiti or Uganda but it really seems like they're expecting me to say that he came from Neptune or maybe a galaxy far, far away. I try to be super friendly and kind when I'm answering questions about Matthew's adoption because I have no idea where the person is coming from and what life experiences sit behind their questions.

She really was very nice but the line of questioning just wouldn't stop. Eventually I had to make my answers short and slightly curt. I very nearly said, "We're done with the adoption questions." Because I don't want my very aware three-year-old to feel invalidated in our family.

It was different when he was a baby. But now he comprehends this stuff. 

We tell him his story just as we tell his brother his. It's a story of a mother's love, meant to validate his ethnicity, his culture, his past, as well as his grafting into our family and his future. Lately, though, I'm struggling to find the balance. When he sees pictures of his birth family he grows quiet. "Who is this?" I ask, pointing to his mother. He used to tell me.

"I don't know," he says in a tone that screams, I don't want to talk about it.

I want him to know that he is fully them and fully us and he can talk about his adoption as often or as little as he wants to. I don't want to bring it up so often that he feels that his position in our family is somehow invalidated. I don't want to bring it up so seldom that he feels that his position in their family is somehow invalidated. He is in the unique position of being a full member of two families--just in different ways. And I'm trying like crazy to create healthy lines of communication so that he never feels like we can't talk about it. But in trying to make that environment for him, am I inadvertently making him talk about it too much?

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