I’m a sports fan, and I like to wear shirts and hats of my favorite teams, whether its the Minnesota Twins, or my alma mater, University of Northern Iowa. Sometimes I’ll be walking around and someone who happens to also be a fan will stop and say something. My favorite now is when someone stops and asks if Northern Iowa is the same team that beat Kansas in the NCAA tournament a few years ago (yep!). It’s refreshing to meet a fellow fan in this sea of scarlett and gray that is Ohio. (Although, here you’ll run into Bengals and Reds fans. In Nebraska is was all red. They gave you a Cornhusker Flag when you crossed the border, and told you the nearest place to buy a red truck.)
We ate at a Fazoli’s one day, and there was a family sitting a table. Mom, Dad, and their two daughters were eating their fast, fresh, italian. I looked at them, and wanted to go talk to them. I knew that this was an adoptive family, and I wanted to say, “Us Too! Isn’t this great!” I didn’t. We ordered, and let them eat in peace.
I didn’t know them. I hadn’t met them before, but I knew they were adoptive. Why? Because both of their girls were oriental, and they weren’t. It’s an interesting situation. I wanted to connect to them on a level of similarity, and was making this connection because of their differences. Looking at it a different way, I wanted to say hey to them based off their looks.
Now, in the grand scheme of things, they probably wouldn’t want their meal disturbed, just like any other family wouldn’t, but isn’t this situation different? Maybe worse? “Hi, I noticed that you don’t all look the same, so you must be adopted. I’m an adoptive parent too.” Eek. Terrible introduction.
They will always be spottable as an adoptive family. We will not. Eva looks like us. Sure, she may have reddish hair, and her cute nose doesn’t match ours, but she looks like us. When random strangers tell you that her eyes look like yours, or she’s cute just like her mother, how do you respond? Thank them, because those statements are technically correct, or correct them on their likely misconception that the matches are due to biology?
We are not ashamed of our family. We’re actually rather proud of our adoptive family. (With this blog, I’ve written more about our adoption than I have anything else). We won’t hide it, but we won’t project it either. When a stranger makes a comment thats correct, but probably made on the assumption of biology, we tend to smile and say “Thank You”.
The main reason we say “Thank You” is that adoption is not a throwaway topic. If someone assumed that I grew up here in Ohio and I corrected them in saying I grew up in Iowa, I wouldn’t have to explain the differences between growing up in the two places. They’d say “OK”, and continue on with their day. When you mention adoption to someone, they typically can’t just say “OK” and walk away. All they wanted to do is complement our beautiful baby and now they are stuck having to make sure they didn’t offend us with the comment (which they didn’t), and then either show support for what we did, or pretend so. I’m not in the business of trapping people who only wanted to complement our baby.
So, with that in mind, I won’t trap that Fazolis family. There are better ways of connecting with adoptive families. We have bi-yearly meet ups with class members of our adoption class if I’m so inclined. Plus, you don’t have to be an adoptive family to be supportive or helpful. Besides, right now the things we need to talk about are not adoption related, just parenting related, and we know plenty of parents. Even if we didn’t meet them at a Fazolis.