As an adoptive mom and part of a multiracial family, I often catch people staring at me and my son in confusion.
My husband, Noah, and I are Caucasion. Our son, Kelvin, who was placed with us in 2013, is clearly of Asian heritage. His birth mother is full Korean-American and his birth father is Irish and German American.
Once, at a flea market, an old man asked me, “What’s his mix?” I laughed, but my friend replied “He’s not a puppy!”
Some people may find comments like this rude and offensive, and admittedly just the sheer repetition of it can get annoying.
But often I find myself wondering about the stories they are constructing in their heads.
Sometimes when our family is together, people will stare, put the pieces of the puzzle together, and then lose interest.
But other times, you just don’t know what jumbled and awkward thoughts will come out of their mouths.
Here are some of the favorite questions and encounters we’ve gotten as a family.
1. “Who are you waiting for?”
This happened in the hospital when Kelvin was born. Noah and I arrived first thing in the morning and Kelvin wasn’t born until later afternoon so we had a lot of time on our hands.
Of course, we weren’t the only ones in the waiting room. There were about half-a-dozen other families waiting for their sisters, daughters and sons to give birth.
They didn’t know their story and we didn’t know theirs, but the room was full of excitement. I remember there was a TV, because it seemed like Steve Harvey was on for about 20 hours straight.
At one point amid all the commotion, I was chatting with Kelvin’s birthfather, Luke, when a lovely women next to us asked, “Who are you waiting for?”
Boy, she no had no idea how loaded that question was. I can’t remember who answered, Luke or me, but eventually she figured out that we were both waiting for our son to be born, and that Luke was the birth father and I was the adoptive mother.
All of sudden the room fell silent and she said something like “that’s nice,” and then turned and stared back at the TV.
2. “Are you his Moms?”
This one goes down as one of my very favorite comments.
Kelvin’s birth mom, Sara, and I are very close, and we often have playdates together.
On this particular day we took Kelvin to the Brooklyn Children’s Museum.
As we watched him play and met other kids and their parents, this very nice mother innocently turned to Sara and I and said, “Are you his Moms?”
Now, we are 1,000% sure she did not mean “are you his birth mom and his adoptive mom?”
But we said yes anyway because, well, why not, it’s true!
It’s something we talk about all the time — the fact that he’s a blend of us both.
Almost all of his facial features and expressions come from Sara. But he has his birth dad’s skin and hair, who is Irish and German – just like me!
3. “Are you a child photographer?”
A close second in my list of favorite comments occurred during another playdate with Sara.
The whole family was at the park and I was snapping pictures of them with my camera.
Then a woman came up to me and said “Beautiful shot. Are you a child photographer?”
At first I was confused. But then I saw what she saw: a woman (me) photographing a mother (Sara) and father (Noah) and their baby, (Kelvin).
I responded “Nope, just taking some pictures of my son.”
The expression on her face was priceless, but all that came out was an “oh.” In retrospect, I should have said “yes” and given her my number for a fun side job!
4. “Who’s his father?”
This one came from my own family.My mom is firstt generation American and a huge portion of my family is still in Ireland.
Last fall we took Kelvin to meet them! We were having tea, of course, and cake, of course, with my third cousin named Mary, of course, who just happens to be 92 years old.
At one point Mary looked at me, and then at Noah and at Kelvin. She did it a number of times until she finally ask, in her thickest Irish brogue, “So who’s his father?”
When it comes to receiving comments about your family, adoptive parents need to understand that people are just curious.
Just think of it this way: You have a beautiful family, and that attracts other people.
So enjoy the attention, and don’t let their words offend you.
Kim and her husband, Noah, are adoptive parents who would like to share their experience of open adoption of their son, Kelvin. They live in New York City and are hoping to expand their family further through open adoption.
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