Losing Steam Advocating For Adoption

Having three children of different races seems to open itself up to constant questioning.

Shelley Skuster March 09, 2017
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I’m no stranger to the stares, the double-takes, and the nosey questions. Having three children of different races seems to open itself up to constant questioning.

There are moments in public when we’re able to divert the, “Are they all yours?” and, “Are they adopted?” types of questions.

But then, there are days like last Wednesday where a trip to the neighborhood park warranted a complete stranger’s critique of our family and how it was built.

From a nearby bench with my 1-year-old in my arms, I watched my 3-year-old make her way up the tall, swirl tunnel slide while my 2-year-old threw handfuls of rocks at the base for her older sister to glide into.

That’s when a middle-aged woman came up to us and smiled.

I like meeting other moms and caregivers at the park. In fact, I’ve made a few friends at the playground myself. What I don’t like, though, is getting interrogated about my family because its dynamics are a bit different than what some may consider “the norm.”

The woman first asked if I had a daycare. No, they’re all mine!

Then she asked if I was a foster parent. No, they were never in foster care.

She asked if they were adopted. Yes.

Are they “real sisters?” Yes.

I waited for her to justify the invasive questions; perhaps she had adopted or was considering growing her family through adoption herself. I like to give people the benefit of the doubt, but I also believe I have a responsibility to protect my daughters and their stories.

And the questions kept coming from the woman.

How old were they when you got them? Do you ever worry – what if their real parents change their minds and want them back?

My answers became shorter until finally I asked, “Why do you ask?”

“Just curious,” she shrugged her shoulders.

She was curious alright. And her game of 20-questions would’ve continued had I not needed to leave and break-up my toddlers’ rock-throwing party.

Look, I get it. People have questions. Some folks genuinely want to learn about adoption, and being a transracial family in public can feel a bit like an open invitation for them to ask.

But I have to be honest—sometimes I lose steam advocating for adoption.

Sometimes, I want to take my children to the park and have no one question or ask us about adoption. Not because I don’t want others to learn, but because I just want to watch my kids have a typical afternoon at the playground.

Maybe I lost rights to that expectation of normalcy when we signed on to become a transracial family years ago, but a momma can dream, right?!

The truth is, while I believe adoption can be a wonderful way to grow a family, and while I believe adoption is a bittersweet way at doing so, I think we—as adoptive parents—have a responsibility to protect our children and their privacy. If that makes me seem a bit standoffish to strangers questioning me at the park, then I guess that’s a small price to pay. But at the end of the day, I know I’ve done my part by being a momma first and an adoption advocate second. My children will always—always—come first.

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Shelley Skuster

Shelley is a former award-winning television journalist who traded in suit coats and red lipstick for a messy bun and yoga pants. She's a freelance writer who stays at home with her three daughters who are all ((gasp)) under the age of three and came to her via adoption and birth. She's the woman behind the blog Shelley Writes, and she can also be found on Facebook and Twitter.


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