Monday, September 1, 2014


Ever since our twins joined our family back in 2010 we had lived in Medina, OH.  Mike and I both grew up in this small Cleveland suburb, so we knew a lot of people around town.  Anyone I didn't know personally was accosted with adorable photographs if they went shopping at the local greenhouse and farm where my mother worked.  Sometimes people would come up to us on the street and say, "Hey, aren't you Charlotte & Caroline?" even though I had never seen said person before in my life.  That could've been the result of the girls going to every VBS in town for two summers straight.  Don't judge, using Jesus as free respite isn't again the rules, we talked, He's cool with it.

This being said, the girls were never really approached with very many questions about their adoption.  Add in the fact that they were still young enough that kids didn't notice racial differences and that every November (Adoption Awareness Month) I have gone into their classrooms to share a book about adoption and answer all of the children's questions about it, there hadn't been much opportunity or need for them to stand on their own two feet and answer the tough questions alone.

Then we moved.  We moved to PA, outside of Philadelphia, to a town and a school even whiter and more rural than the one we came from.  The questions began before school even started.  This is the conversation I walked outside to in my backyard:

"A SHELTER????  You mean an orphanage?  Yes, I used to live in an orphanage in Africa, NOT in a shelter.  What do you think I am?  A cat?  MEOW!!!"  I stood back trying not to wet my pants.  I wanted to see where this was going to go next.  

The boy and Caroline both laughed.  Then he said "So your real mom just left you there?"  Caroline responded with an annoyed tone, clearly wanting to get back to the game they were just in the middle of, "Yeah, sure.  Let's play."

I swooped and and made some politically correct statement that their birth mother was too poor to take care of them so she made the loving choice to allow another family to take care of them.  Then I came inside.  I thought about what I needed to say as a follow up to this interaction.

Once she came inside for the night I told her how proud I was of her.  I liked how she made it silly so that he didn't feel dumb.  It is likely that she is the first adopted child he has ever met and he was using the vocabulary that he was familiar with when it comes to adoption, albeit pet adoption.  She has such great comedic timing that I knew the humorous approach would be her strength.  I then gave her suggestions about how to better answer his question about her "real mom".  "Is my mom imaginary?  I'm pretty sure she's real.  I think you mean by birth mom."  These were my suggestions on how to handle it in a humorous way while still educating him on the correct vocabulary.  

We then talked about how much of her story she wants to share.  I reminded her that her story is private and it is nobody's business how she came to be adopted.  She can share what she feels comfortable with, and we went through a few different levels of sharing information.  I want to empower my girls.  I don't want there to be any shame with their stories, and one day I'd love for them to be able to use their story to share God with others by telling them how He has worked in their lives.  Baby steps.

In the meantime we will continue to keep an open dialogue about how to handle the tough questions. And don't worry, if the stories are funny, you'll be sure to hear all about it!


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