Thursday, February 2, 2012

Questions and Surprising Answers

Being an adoptive parent you never know when you are going to get sideswiped by a question. They can come from anyone, at any time, and the person doing the asking usually has no idea that their words have quickened my pulse, and made me raise my protective mama hackles. In the past two and a half years I have gotten to the point where I can pretty much predict how certain lines of questioning will go, and have my answers down pat.

And then there are the times I am totally surprised.

The other day Meg and I were in the grocery store when her favorite bagger came up to give her some stickers. He is her favorite bagger because of said stickers, and if he doesn't come find us, Meg makes sure we find him. Meg was putting the stickers on her arms when this kid (he's maybe 17), looked at her, then at me, and asked "Is she adopted?"

Hackles up.

"Yes, she is" I answered, very calmly. Well, calmly on the outside. On the inside I was going through my mental rolodex, trying to determine what he would ask next, and how to keep the questions from escalating, especially since they would be asked in front of Meg, who still doesn't quite understand what "adopted" means. Would it be the "where" or the "when" question, or something else totally bizarre? I waited.

"Oh, I figured it was either that or your husband is black. One or the other. Do you want paper or plastic today?"

I almost started laughing with relief; or laughing with glee because this stocky teen had presented me with such a pleasant surprise. I almost reached over and hugged him.

Instead I just hugged Meg, and let her put a sticker on my hand.

Hackles down.

13 comments:

Tracy Lynn said...

I'm sometimes taken aback like that, when I am prepped for a huge deal and then it doesn't happen. Like going to bust down a door and having it open up right as you reach it.
If Meg gets any cuter, I am going to need insulin.

Jill VT said...

That's awesome. You are a pretty convincing black chick.

Kelly said...

Oh, the hackles. It feels kind of weird when they just magically go down like that doesn't it?

Riot Kitty said...

Amazing what people will ask when it is none of their business!

LL Cool Joe said...

Some people will ask some incredibly personal questions right in front of the kids and it drives me insane. Especially people who you think should no better, like doctors etc.

"Has her birth mother got mental issues?" etc. It's unbelievable. I'm fairly tolerant but when it comes to this kind of thing I have to hold back from saying something I'll regret.

LL Cool Joe said...

Know better, sorry, my English is bad, but not that bad.

Phil said...

In some ways though I think I still would be offended by such a question. If your child was caucasian adopted or not, he never would have asked. It's somewhat intrusive, although he seemed innocent enough. And who knew you had hackles?

Lynne said...

A friend of mine has the best answer. "No. When I was pregnant I just drank a lot of chocolate milk." :)

Stopcallingmeshirley07 said...

The worst, absolute worst I get is that my daughter (from China) will go back there some day as some kind of double-agent or traitor. Scary thinking.

Jen Has A Pen said...

I recently read a post on Babble about the questions adoptive parents are often asked. I was FLOOOOOORED. I don't know how I'd react. Way to keep your cool, Lib. :-)

Sam said...

Have totally been there, both with the hackles and with the surprising outcome. And lately I've been wondering if I'd had hackles for nothing, since Jarrah herself has blithely mentioned that no one has any idea where her "real" parents are. She does it so casually I can tell she's using this word as carelessly as strangers do, as a synonym for "biological," which makes me want to laugh after all these years of testily correcting people. ;)

Rassles said...

I have a friend who walks around with her foot in her mouth, without a care in the world as to who might be offended by her extremely personal, probing, potentially insulting questions. Things I've overheard include: "So, are you infertile?" (to a married couple w/o kids) and "So, if you're a lesbian does that mean you want to become a man?" Drives. Me. Bonkers.

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