22 September 2010

being diplomatic and other adoption issues

 If you have ever thought about adoption, are in the process, or have already adopted, I highly, highly, highly recommend this book. We got it while we were in the process, but I finally just read (most of) it last weekend. The author, Dr. Ray Guarendi, has ten adopted children and is one of our parental heroes - he has a daily radio show that we listen to when we can, a discipline book that we love, and does it all with humor, faith, and knowledge. 

I picked the book up again because we have entered into a stage in the journey where we can't just wing it. When we started the process we had to answer questions about how we would teach our kids about adoption, how we would answer people when they asked about it, and so on. We did some research, read a couple of books, talked to people who had adopted. But in our usual "whatever will be, will be" fashion, we idealized letting it all happen organically. While we still hold to that in many respects, we are so regularly inundated with "how did that happen?" and such, that it's time to come up with an answer we're all comfortable with.

My friend Haley, who is in the process of adopting a little boy from Ethiopia, posed a good question on her blog last week.  How much of your child's story do you relay to strangers? I have never been one to hold back on details, so when it comes to friends and family, those who know us and are genuinely interested in our story, those who I really believe are on this journey with us, I don't worry about sharing our story. 

But something I have been thinking about a lot lately is the way everything will be perceived by my Eddie when he is old enough to take part in the conversation. I don't want him to hear the adoption clarification every time we leave the house.  I know people are innocent in their questioning, but sometimes I wonder how necessary it is. Do I really need to clarify that one of our children is adopted? What do they think the other option might be? An affair? Do strangers expect me to go into detail when they are asking? 

If you know me, you know I have a raspy voice. Nearly every encounter I have with a stranger invites one of the following phrases:
"Oh, are you sick?"
"Do you have laryngitis?"
"You take care of that voice!"
"Did you go to a concert last night?"
"You poor thing, get better."
Most of the time I smile and say thanks. But almost as often, I quickly quip, "Nope, I'm fine." 
I know people have the best of intentions, but it gets old. 

So as I think about how to respond to questions about my children being close in age, if they're all mine, if I am the babysitter... to "how did that happen?", I think the answer is going to be: We're just blessed.

Because we are. And really, what more to it does there need to be?


  1. AMEN. We are blessed beyond measure.

  2. that is a GREAT response: we're just blessed. i love it. one of the online classes we took to complete the education part of our homestudy was called "conspicuous families" and dealt with how to handle the questions that come with being 'conspicuous.' the part i found most helpful was about how answer with sensitivity primarily toward YOUR CHILD, not the person asking the question. that was a helpful distinction for me that i hope to be able to apply when we get to that point. (soon!!!!)

  3. I like this answer! Considering we could have two kids *very* close in age. Thanks for the book recommendation as well. I'll have to check it out.