Everyone wants to know the story of how we adopted three children from Ethiopia. But do I have a right not to tell it, existing as I do right out here on the front line, looking as I do, a Caucasian mom with three African kiddos? Taking my children to the grocery store or to the library without announcing where they came from? Do I have a right to live in the world, fully and enthusiastically and not announce my history or that of my children? I think, yes.
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When we started talking adoption, especially interracial adoption, with other adoptive parents we were told that we would be shocked at the number of people that would ask about our child’s background, effectively his or her life story.
I naively didn’t believe that this would happen. After all, you wouldn’t randomly knock on someone’s door and ask them to share with you private traumas and personal struggles. . . . Still, not a week goes by that I am not asked if my children’s parents are dead, if they are orphans, what happened to them, whether they are “related,” how we “got” them, whether they suffered starvation or other forms of trauma or abuse and how long they were in an orphanage. I am routinely followed by a well-meaning librarian throughout our local library as she tells me stories about orphans. I am stopped at least twice a week by strangers who ask if my kids are “mine.”
2 weeks ago