Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Too Much Love

For the past six weeks or so, I have been writing fast and furious in my journal every evening.  I have written several posts and am thankful I chose not to click on the publish icon.  Something about the tone was just negative and angry.  Certain situations were beginning to seep and fester right down to my core.  Adopting transracially, I anticipated intrusive and possibly rude comments from people concerning our family, but could not foresee or understand how awkward I would feel in trying to find a graceful response in order to make a quick exit.

More often than not, my sons are present and putting me on the spot (especially in their company) leaves me incredibly flustered.  My older son can understand enough of the language to know what's going on and both can see that it makes me uncomfortable.  I am struggling to overcome the anger I feel at a complete stranger approaching me and asking personal questions concerning race and/or adoption. I do feel the need to be polite and teach my sons that anger is not a useful tool in dealing with these folks, but interestingly, it is my initial emotional response when boundaries are crossed.  I am learning with each new question and comment (you would not believe some of them if I told you) what responses work best and am also discovering that telling people a question is inappropriate and highly personal can be an educational moment for them, myself, and my sons at the same time.

Not only am I perplexed when searching for responses when dealing with adults, I have found answering questions from children to be equally as difficult.  These types of questions don't make me angry, but I just can't seem to find an answer that is satisfactory for young, inquisitive minds.  In responding to adults and children alike, Daddy O has demonstrated tremendous reserve, grace, and creativity-I continue to observe each day and hope that I can follow in his footsteps at some point.  One scenario that kept repeatedly confounding me last week was a little boy who would stop in front of our house on his bicycle as Baby O and I would play on the front lawn.  He would stop and stare at us for a few seconds, furrow up his brow, and say "Why do you have that baby?".  I would usually respond with something along the lines of "Because I love him.".  This of course was completely inadequate for his 5 year old mind and his next question would be "But why do you have THAT baby?".  My next response: "Because I do, I guess.".  Still unsatisfactory, but he would take off down the block and be back the next day with the same line of questioning.  This went on for about four days until Daddy O was present for the question.  I knew it was coming and was cringing at what might come out of Daddy O's mouth (I know, I know, where is the faith, Mommy O?).  Here is how the conversation went:

Boy on bike:  "Why do you have THAT baby?"

Daddy O (without hesitation): "Well, we just had too much love in our house and needed to spread it around."

Boy on bike: "What do you mean?"

Daddy O: "Well, our whole house was filled with boxes and buckets of love-so much so that it started to spill over into the garage and we had no room to park our cars.  Love was everywhere and we were running out of buckets and boxes, so we needed a family to soak up some of the love.  That's why we have THIS baby."

Boy on bike (eyes wide, looking at all the boxes and buckets in our garage): "Oh.  Okay."

He hasn't asked the question since.

Being witness to this short conversation completely washed all the anger right out of me. I will never be able to control or predict when and where questions/comments are going to present themselves, but what my husband taught me in that moment was to take a deep breath, don't hesitate, have courage and be honest in the moment-if it takes a bit of creativity and humor-even better.

Please let me clarify that my definition of honesty in this case is being honest with myself-this doesn't mean that I need to feel any obligation to respond or answer.

I love THIS baby.


  1. How precious. We haven't had so many out right questions, but the looks some people can give! I just keep going, hoping my kids don't see / understand what those looks mean. Some day I'm waiting for Momma Bear to come out and say something to someone staring at us...yikes!

  2. I think that is the reason why we need our adoption friends so much even though they are only there via internet. Nobody understands what we are going through and how awkward so many questions are for us. There has been this one lady at this church I wanted to write about but I have been so bitter about what she said that I couldn't write it as a nice post so I didn't. Just know that we are all here for you when noone else understands. People are uneducated and ignorant when it comes to adoptions/blended families especially for those kids who look nothing like us. BTW, that picture of you and baby o is just beautiful. Thanks for this great post.

  3. I LOVE that picture. So adorable! Funny that you should blog about a child asking questions, because I got recently got that same line of questioning...except I was stuck in the car with said child for 10 minutes as she fired away. I wasn't angry by any means, just caught off guard and flustered...though I managed to give her something to chew on. "My baby needed a Mommy and a Daddy because he didn't have one, and we wanted to be his Mommy and Daddy, so we brought him into our family." Tender things like having a Mommy and Daddy pound hard on some kids. Most take for granted that they DO have those things and for that split second, she was terrified of NOT having them. The rest of the questioning was purely about his skin color...and at that point, I explained as best I could, but gently told her mother that perhaps she needs to discuss race with said 5 year old. :)

  4. This is beautifully, beautifully stated. The image of the buckets of love filling the house and garage and the detail about nowhere to park the car deserve to be in children's book. And I'm really intrigued by how you've taken this one thing so completely out of your control- the actions and words of others- and put it back in your control by your responses and our emotions. And the picture. Well- sheesh. That is a picture for forever. Girl, you are Heromine and then some.

  5. I have been wanting to add to our family by adopting and you are inspirational. I tear up every time I think about it and hope one day in my future I am able to bring a child into our home and share our buckets and boxes of love that we have been storing here. To hear your story about the inappropriate looks and comments gives me something to think about and prepare for but it wouldn't stop me. I know that adding a sweet child to our family is the right thing for us! :) Thank you!

  6. great comment back, what a teachable moment, love, Ginnie