Monday, April 06, 2009

Strange Misconceptions about Adoption

People say lots of weird things to you when they discover you're adopting. These are things that have been said to us or other families adopting from Ethiopia. So not all of these were said to us, but others who have adopted. But I'm sure it's just a matter of time before we hear similar things. God seemingly left out a filter when creating some people.

I can't wait to see a REAL black person. This one is obviously directed to our family, as we live in a country with very little skin color diversity.

One time we were at a park and Addis (a little boy adopted from Ethiopia) wouldn't keep leaves out of his mouth. Every time we put him down, he put a leaf in. A friend at the park with us asked, "Is that what he is used to eating in Ethiopia?" Yes, we found him roaming free on the savannah foraging for berries. He is a baby, not a herbivore.

Ethiopia is in Africa, right? So is he going to be (pause because they aren't sure they are supposed to be saying it out loud) you know, African, black? Generally, this question is posed as informational, as if we haven't considered that we will be raising an african american son.

Speaking of african american, that particular term was difficult for a friend once. "No, he will be african" he told me. "And American," I added. "Yeah, I guess. But it's still not the same." Not sure why that mattered, but it did during that bout of verbal curiosity.

There are various poorly planned stereotypical comments made, generally surrounding sports. Football and basketball are the topics of conversation that usually draws out these awkward moments. I have a standard answer for this one that I will pass along for the moment that it comes up in your conversations. "Yes, and next we are going to adopt an asian baby because we really want an olympic gymnast."

And, my all time favorite, "will he speak english?" This question has been asked in a hundred different ways. "It will be interesting to see what he speaks once he starts talking." "I wonder if he can understand anything you are saying." "He will probably need some speech therapy to get caught up." My general response is, "when your baby was 8 months old, what did they speak?" We got this same line of questioning when telling people we were moving to China. "Will your kids be able to speak English?"

A guy directly asked a an adoptive mom "are you Madonna?" "huh?!" "Ya, you've got fancy sunglasses and you're a white family with a black kid."

It has been asked by at least three people at this point. "Do you plan on telling him he is adopted?" My answer is usually a polite, "Yes." What I want to say is, "No, we prefer him to think his mother had an affair and we don't want him to know his biological father."

My oh my. People.
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