Tuesday, October 27, 2009

What do I say??

I'm hoping you guys can help me out here.

Quite frequently when I am out with the kids I get comments. I've gotten the "Are they all yours?" question a lot. So far, my favorite response to my response of yes was the man yesterday who said "Congratulations!" I like that a lot better than "Wow, you've got your hands full." :)

But there's one comment I've gotten several different times that I just can't figure out a good response. It inevitably comes up from women who ask if any of them are twins (or occasionally, triplets). When I say no, they are 7, 6, 5, and 4 years old, I quite frequently get the comment of "oh my goodness, you were pregnant for four years!" LOL

In not all cases is it necessary or beneficial to share that all of the kids were adopted. I'm still torn as to how much of their history I should share and how much I should let them share if they so desire. They know they were all adopted and we frequently talk about Ukraine, things that happened while the boys were still in Ukraine (that Mark and I did before they joined the family), and things that happened while the girls were still in Ukraine. It's really part of our dinnertime conversation (as in Tim saying "no, you didn't go there Danielle--you were still in 'kraine") and I'm not sure the kids realize there's any other way to join a family.

At the same time, when the pregnancy comment is made it is usually by people I don't know and won't ever see again and quite often that I am only seeing for a few minutes while waiting in line somewhere.

I figure I've got a couple of options. I could smile and say something like "It would appear so" and leave it at that. Or I could say "Actually, they were all adopted" and let them ask any questions they want. Part of my dilemma is that I don't want the kids to think I'm ashamed in any way that they joined our family through adoption, not birth. I don't want them to think I'm not sharing that or correcting people's misconceptions because I don't want people to know. I also don't want to get into an in-depth discussion of our family's history with random people I don't know.

Any thoughts??


Bethany said...

It's always amazing the liberties people take in discussing personal business (and touching your children when they're infants! annoying!). What about, "Well, actually, they were born of my heart, I got to choose them!" or something like that? That might shut them up, and make your kids feel good at the same time? I don't know. But I can see your point about not speaking up making the kids feel funny. Eventually, they will correct them for you.

Diana said...

Tee, hee, hee! I was "pregnant" with my boys for 5 years! That's how long it took from the time we filed our first domesetic adoption papers to the time the boys finally joined our family.

To either question or comment you can respond "We've been quite busy!" or "everyone of them were very much wanted and planned for!" and leave it at that. People can think whatever they want to about those statements and wonder for days on what they really mean.

Don't hesitate to ask your kids what they'd like you to say as well. Do they want you to tell people they were adopted,do they not, or do they care? Usually if you tell people they were adopted, you're guaranteed to have a continuing conversation about it. If you feel like engaging, engage. If you don't feel like chatting for the next several minutes to 1/2 hour with these random people, then use a more stealth answer such as the one above.

Leslie G said...

I'd just so "no, I wasn't actually pregnant!" and leave it at that. There may or may not be a question to follow.

I frequently get the "are they twins?" question about my 2 daughters. One is bio, the other from Ukraine. I just usually tell them they are actually 2 years apart, and leave it at that. (they really are, but are close in size and have some of the same features)

I worry sometimes I give too much info, that I may hurt my adopted children's feelings because I do or don't tell their story, or that I miss out on the opportunity to share with someone what a blessing adopted children are. It's a tough balance, that unless you have been there is hard to understand. I constantly pray for discernment in this area.

Jane said...

You could just say, no I rented them for the day. You'd have to make sure none of them heard you though. Actually, the amount of time you're pregnant is the same no matter how spread out they are. So you could say, same as everyone that has 4 children. I'd go with the rented answer, but my kids wouldn't care, they'd just roll their eyes and say NO MUM.....

Leah said...

I had 4 boys within 3 years. Two were biological and 2 were not. I HATED when people asked me questions like that (and they did every day.) And I admit, some days my answers are snarky, because frankly I'm tired of total strangers talking to my kids when I try to teach them not to! It was like I should feel obligated to answer their questions about our personal business. That, and the fact I don't like to talk about my kids in front of them. I preferred answers that kept people wondering. Such as, "Are they twins?" I'd just give a "No." and smile. I answered their question, and my volunteering more information just left it open for them to say more. You KNOW they wanted to ask questions! My youngest, Angela, has Down syndrome. I always hate when people talk to me instead of her. "Oh, she's cute, how old is she?" I turn to Angela and say, "Angela, this lady you don't know asked how old you are." Now, see I did this because I knew what was coming next. Angela would respond with, "I'm 6, how old are you?" And the lady would NEVER want to say her age. I'd say back, "Ahh...if you want to ask personal questions, make sure you're ready to answer some too!" Now, I always did this in FUN, not in a snotty tone, or anything like that. If someone did ask a more in-depth question, I'd politely say, "I'm sorry, but I don't talk about my kids in front of them." and leave it at that.

Shannon said...

Courtney I get that question ALL THE TIME! I usually just smile and say nothing. Sometimes the kids will correct people but like LL said there is no need because i'm just as much a mom to them as their bio mom. :)

Zack, Jenn and William said...

Interesting stuff. I don't have the age issue like this, but there are questions that come up from time to time.

Like your kids, I don't think it's really hit William that all kids aren't sought out in another country like he was :) We are totally open with him about his adoption and will answer any questions he has (in an age-appropriate manner, of course). And we tell him that he can choose to share his background if he wants, or if he thinks it creates too many It's his decision. We only mention his adoption on an as-needed basis. If it's not relevant, then why bring it up if it's going to create a game of 20 questions? We don't hide it, but we try to make it a non-issue so that it doesn't become the essence of his identity. He is my son, just like my brother's bio-son is his son.

For 2 years now, it has worked out really well. We'll see how it goes as another little one joins us soon and as they get older!

I'm enjoying reading everyone else's take on this subject. Sometimes a sarcastic or vague comment is best, especially when it's someone you'll likely never encounter again!

Anonymous said...

I don't see anything wrong with saying they were adopted. When someone comments that you were pregnant for a long time, just smile and respond with a "No, they were adopted, so we were lucky we got to chose them!" I don't believe most people will continue to pry, they will most likely say congratulations or move on. If they do continue to pry, a quick, "I don't like to speak of it in front of them" should do the trick! Your children know they are adopted, and it doesn't appear to bother them according to this blog, so rejoice that you got to chose such a lovely family! And that you weren't really pregnant for 4 years straight! ;)

Missy said...

When my first child, Natasha, was learning English and all about her new world, she asked me about a friend of hers. She asked when she came here from Russia and I said that she was born here - that she was always in America, and Natasha looked so sorry for the poor little girl! It was so precious!

Beth said...

I don't think I have much more to add. I think it depends on who and where. The comment may vary depending.
I was at a mom's gathering for my 5 year old's preschool and a mom was asking how many children and learned the ages and then said "oh, so you have done preschool before" I just replied "no, this is my first time," and something about it didn't work for the others.


Leslie said...

We have similar conversations too! In January we will have 15, 15, 14, 13,and 12. The question inevitably comes and we proudly share that Kristina is adopted. It always leads to questions that I hope God will use to plant seeds.

adoptyaroslav said...

I agree with Leslie, I don't mind talking about adoption because you never know if you've planted a seed with the other person, or someone else they speak to about your encounter. Also, my son has only been here 7 months, so he still has an accent and his English grammar leaves something to be desired. Some people seem to give me a look like they're sorry for him because he sounds unintelligent, when the exact opposite is true - he's very intelligent.


Sandy said...

Hi Courtney-
I too have children "lined" up, 13, 12, 11 and 10, and all adopted, but they are biological siblings. So, when people ask and make a comment about being pregnant for 4 years, sometimes I reply "yup, their mama sure was", which doesn't really tell that they were adopted. It really depends on who is asking for me, because we are very open about their adoption, and they will tell pretty much anyone that asks themselves, but when it is just someone in a waiting room for instance, I don't usually mention it, as it doesn't seem to be relevant to them.
It can be annoying though, and somewhat exhausting to have to think through all the implications of sharing personal information with near strangers.
I don't think there is a right or wrong answer, so go with what your spirit prompts you at the time the question is asked.

Anonymous said...

Hi Courtney-
I always had a great time when I told other people we had a young son, and they always told me how great I looked so quickly, and then I would show them pictures of him (for others' curiosity, he's African American and we're white), they'd just shut up, it was hilarious! So it's pretty obvious to others that he's adopted, and we get different but sort of equally inappropriate questions from strangers. Usually it's well meaning and we answer nicely, but sometimes it's fun to mess with them, like say we're not going to tell him he's adopted or something obnoxious like that! Sometimes I think it's easier for us being a conspicuous family, there's really no getting around it to anybody. But it is always interesting how much other people think they deserve to know about you, isn't it?? You'll do fine answering, however you choose, I know you!

soontobemomof9 said...

I always look at these comments as an opportunity to plant a seed. The more "common" families created through adoption become, the more people think about it, the more then think about it for THEIR family, and the more people that will actually take that first step and start the process. If God has called you to and blessed you with a family created through adoption, it is a JOY to share right?

I would probably say something like [in regards to the pregnancy comment], "God chose to create our family through adoption. It has been a journey in miracles I wouldn't trade for anything!" :)

If you want to share more fine, if not that's fine too. Sadly, a lot of times I find if you bring God into the conversation it shortens things. :)

Marsha said...

I used to get the "Wow, you've got your hands full" comment when I had what appeared to be 3 in diapers, as my oldest @ 3 was the size of her 20 month old brother, both of whom were not much bigger than their full term 2-month old baby brother. My comment was always, "not my hands, but definitely my heart!"
My older sister was adopted by our Dad when she was about a year old. I love his explanation to this day ... most parents get no choice in who their children are, they simply accept who God gives them - he, however was the lucky one, in that he got to CHOOSE to be my sisters Daddy.

mck said...

For pregnancy comments, I'd say "pregnancy isn't the only way to become a mommy."

Tami said...

I don't get the pregnancy question, although you would think I would since Anya and Nick are only eight months apart...right now I have two 8-year-olds. ;)
I do, however, get the 'you've got your hands full' comment all the time. Drives. Me. Nuts.
Up until now my answer has always been, 'Yea, but its a good kind of full.' But I'm thinking about changing it to the 'No, but my heart sure is,' one. I am SO tired of people automatically considering us a large family because we have four kids...and that four kids are so unmanageable. Again - Drives. Me. Nuts! But that's a whole other post! :)

Shea said...

I get the comment all the time about how I am too young to have Andy , my brother who is 20 that I raised since he was 7. Though I am not his mom, he is my child. Since the moment he was born, that was MY baby. Sometimes I explain, sometimes I don't. In my opinion, there is no right or wrong answer. I say what I feel like lol.

Kelly said...

Courtney, I ALWAYS love when people look puzzled when I tell them that Ian and Erik are both 10, or in the same grade, and they ask if they are twins (clearly not) and I get to say NO! Why? Because it is yet another opportunity to educate people about adoption, especially of older kids (in my case, being 10, almost 10 and almost 18 now.) I find that people are surprised in a pleasant 'wow, I have to think about that' way. I usually throw something in about them being older when I adopted, and how they are the best thing that ever happened to me. If people ask, they are going to get an earful - of good. This is the way that the stigma and misconeptions about adoption, adoption of kids with special needs, and adoption of older kids get erased. My kids LOVE it, too. There is no shame in being adopted and they are very comfortable with it. I find that it helps them with their identities. I think that part is sometimes hard for adopted kids who remember their homeland. They wonder, 'who should I be?' This way, they are not two different identities, but one. So, that's my two cents' worth! :-)