April 19, 2009 at 1:02 am | Posted in adoption issues | 4 Comments
real (rē′əl, rēl)  adj.  ~ existing or happening as or in fact; actual, true, etc.; not merely seeming, pretended, imagined, fictitious, nominal, or ostensible


For some reason, I’m getting an inordinate number of questions in public about my boys lately.    Feel free to imagine me climbing up on my soap box as I give you the most recent example:

I am NOT kidding when i tell you that the Target cashier quizzed me for my entire check out the other day – fully within ear shot of my two precious sons sitting in the cart, looking at her with their big brown eyes, soaking up every word.

  • “Do you know who their real mother is?”
  • “Do you know their real African names?”
  • “Are they really brothers?”

I was nice to her.   I even graciously (albeit carefully) answered her questions.   But, I was also internally dumb-struck and my ‘polite’ default setting went into overdrive as I struggled to be kind to her, but at the same time protect my boys from her invasiveness.

Since the word ‘REAL’ seemed very important to her, here are the REAL answers to her questions:

1) I am their real mother.

I understand she was asking a genetics question that had to do with which uterus they grew in.   But, while we honor the role that their birth mothers played in their existence and we thank God for His purposes in their stories – these boys are finally with their real mother.

2) Their real African names are Philip and Zachary.

These are the names they had in Africa long before we knew them.   They were named at Amani Baby Cottage when they arrived and there is no information regarding what they were called prior to that.    In many ways, the day they arrived at Amani was a new birth for each of them.   And sometimes, when God wants to do a new thing in someone’s life, He gives them a new name ~ just ask the apostle Paul or Father Abraham.   Philip and Zachary are the names they learned to respond to as young babies and are the names they will tell you if you ask them, “what is your name?”

3) They really are brothers.

That’s the beauty of adoption.     It creates family, where none was before.   Tague and I are not genetically related.   We have no common blood relatives.   We never have.   Yet, we are related.   It was a legal process that made us related to one another.    And in the same way, Philip and Zachary don’t share a genetic background, but a beautiful legal process has defined them as related.   They are brothers.  They are sons.   They are as related to each other (and to the rest of us) just as much as my husband and I are related to each other.

I was so glad to only have a a few dozen items in that check out line…. who knows what else she would’ve thought to ask had I been there longer!?


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  1. As I read your post, it sure brings back memories… my most invasive questioning took place in Walmart where the checker started with “so, your husband is black?” and on it went.

    It look me some time, but I have come to realize that I can be polite and not answer at the same time. I would never think to ask someone about their labor and delivery, but when you are an adoptive parent of a child of another ethnicity, it seems that you are fair game.

    I finally got to the place where I began answering their questions with a question, which was “hmmmm.. that seems really personal, can you tell me why you would like to konw?” This turned the tables and was still polite, yet kept the door open for people who were genuinely interested in adoption as opposed to those who were simply nosy.

    Plan on getting those questions and many, many more in the years to come.

    You are in for a wonderful journey and it blesses me to see your boys home with you.


  2. Lisa,

    Your blog post resonated with me today, especially, as I have already had many similar inquiries to work my way through…Without the boys even being in our home yet!

    Yesterday when I was at work, I had perhaps one of the most bizarre comments I’ve ever intercepted. On the topic of “why does adoption have to cost so much?” (my coworkers were asking me), one well-meaning person proclaimed: “Well I don’t see why adopting kids should be any different than buying foreclosed homes. If the government can give a rebate to people buying condemned or foreclosed homes, it should give a rebate to people who buy orphaned children.” With that statement being wrong on so many levels, I honestly cannot remember how I fumbled some lackluster response. Perhaps the shocked look on my face said it all. My mommy instinct wanted to stand straight up and say, “My children are certainly not sub-par goods that I am acquiring from a clearance rack.”

    Glad God gives me grace so I can give it to others! 🙂


  3. I can’t wait! Wow, that lady had some nerve. I wonder what types of questions i will get. Since i homeschool, I already get weird looks and stupid responses. I should be used to it (one lady asked me if I was aware there was a public school down the road–no, really??? I am so stupid I forgot to look!). I think when we make choices that go against the grain or against what other people think we should do, the reaction is always weird and awkward. I am glad you were gracious, but I feel so bad for your boys. I love the responses you have on this blog. They made me ponder how I would react…

  4. Much more than a legal process for either marriage or adoption results in the joining of people to create families. God is at work within us in a way we cannot understand fully now but will eventually some day. His choices to draw us to Himself and to each other allow us to enjoy the blessings both of being a part of His family and also of having our own family and thus gaining a glimpse into His character and persona as we experience love, hope, joy, frustration, and so many other emotions because of our spouses and children. Yes, they really are brothers and sons. And I am thankful for that and for you!

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