I recently saw an Instagram post of a mom and her adopted daughter creatively answering some of the most common questions that adoptive families receive. It was awesome and so relatable for me, and it brought to mind many of the questions that we used to be asked on a regular basis, especially as we waited in the grocery store check-out line.
“Does he speak English?” This one was initially quite common. The part that puzzled me was that when I was asked this the boys were babies–as in hanging-off-the-front-of-me-in-a-pouch babies. At that point, they didn’t speak anything–English, Korean or any other language. They simply spoke baby, which meant crying when they were hungry or wet and laughing when something silly happened.
“Do they know they’re adopted?” This is another frequent question we field even today. I usually chuckle when asked this one because anyone who sees us can tell based on our physical traits. My answer is usually, well it’s pretty obvious that they are as we look at each other. Seriously, the boys know their stories and it’s something we talk about. We learned early on in the adoption training process that it’s important to be open and honest about adoption. Since they were both little, we talked about what it means to be adopted and the different ways in which families are formed. We are also fortunate to have photos of their foster families that we reflect on and discuss.
“Are they ‘real’ brothers?” This one is a little trickier for me. In their hearts, the boys are certainly “real” brothers. They are extremely close despite the arguing and bickering over who gets the remote and who gets to pick the Friday night meal. As far as we are concerned, they are 100 percent real brothers, but I get that people mean “biological,” so, I usually answer that while they are not biologically related, they are related now.
The beauty of families today is the diverse makeup of them. Grandparents are raising grandchildren. Step parents are mothers and fathers. Families are created in so many beautiful ways. Hopefully, as people learn more about adoption and the families that are established this way, the questions will evolve. There have been times that I have been asked, “How did you adopt them?” “Where can I learn more about doing that myself?” These inquiries are traditionally asked with a certain quiet hope that I’ve come to recognize. I am always happy to offer information and encouragement in these situations.
I am extremely grateful to be PMan and Little Bud’s mom. Motherhood has changed my life in so many ways I never imagined possible. Yes, they call me mom. Yes, we are a family even though we look different and have different stories. No, I could not imagine life without them.
Happy National Adoption Month!