Strangers rarely ask me about our family makeup here in Australia. I'm sure people notice us, but in my daily routine, no one says anything.
However, in my experience, there are some cultural groups that can be much more direct when expressing their interest.
Today I was unloading the two little boys, after returning from taking my two older kids to school. Finch is three years old, and blond. He is my biological child. B is two years old with brown eyes, dark hair, and olive skin. I am mothering him while he is in foster care.
As I got the boys out of the car, a neighbor from the end of my street, whom I have met once, drove up and climbed out of her car, and approached me to ask if I might want a rabbit and a hutch. I didn't.
This neighbor is a middle-aged Chinese woman, and here is how our conversation went from there.
Me: Hi, I just got home from taking my two older kids to school.
Neighbor: How many children you have?
Me: I have four.
Neighbor: Your oldest boy, he adopted?
Me: Yes, he is.
Neighbor: I thought so! He look different. He brown, not white.
Neighbor, indicating B on my hip: And him?
Me: We are foster carers for B so he is in our family temporarily.
Neighbor looks at me blankly.
Me: Do you understand what foster care is? (She didn't. I explained.)
Neighbor: In Chinese culture, in my generation, we have children so they take care of us when we are old. If you adopt, you don't know if child will take care of you when you old! In my generation, in my culture, we don't do that! Maybe for my son, for his generation, maybe he will. Maybe, if you can't (she indicated a pregnant belly) have baby.
Me: I understand bloodlines are also very important in Chinese culture. In my culture, in America, it is very different.
Neighbor: Oh, you very good person. Four children? Very, very good person. (Indicating Finch) He yours?
Me: Finch and my daughter are my children that I was pregnant with, yes.
Neighbor: Such a very good person you are! Four children! I don't know how! In my generation, in my culture, we don't do that. You very good person!
Me: Thank you, we are very happy.
At school, at church, at ballet class, and with my friends, I am often talking about foster care and adoption. I talk about these things with people who know us and want to know more about how this whole deal works. I am happy to oblige.
It is rare that I have people that are basically strangers asking me questions. Perhaps being willing to engage my neighbor gave her a different perspective on adoption? I really didn't mind her inquisitiveness since the older kids were not there to overhear her direct questions. I also try to be patient when discussing adoption across cultural and language differences.
How about you readers? In the spirit of Adoption Awareness Week is there anything you want to ask?
PS - I hope my depiction of my Chinese neighbor does not offend anyone. I am writing it like she said it. Many, many of my first generation Chinese friends have flawless english, but many of the older generation does not. No disrespect intended in any way!