It was a Saturday morning.
I chugged my coffee, grabbed my keys to the minivan, and buckled my oldest daughter into her car seat for a far-too-frequent trip to the grocery store.
Being a typical 3-going-on-13 year old, she snatched a mini-cart just her size and started weaving in and out of the aisles like a mad woman on roller skates.
“Sorry . . . ” I said dodging in front of her, saving an elderly woman from getting her cane swiped out from behind.
“Watch where you’re going, sweetie . . . ” I smiled while sternly redirecting her little body to avoid a cart-on collision with a display of olive oil. Whew, crisis diverted. Until the next aisle anyway.
“Excuse us . . . ” I said politely to a middle-aged woman who almost had her feet run over in the middle of the cereal aisle.
By the time we got to the Fruit Loops, I knelt down for a heart-to-heart conversation about shopping cart etiquette with my daughter.
The woman who nearly had her toes truncated by my toddler peered down at us.
“Is she adopted?” she asked with a smile on her face.
My toddler looked at me — stranger danger.
I looked up at the woman whose feet I had undoubtedly spared and gave her a grin but continued having my gentle-yet-stern reminder to my daughter about being aware of our surroundings and slowing down to avoid running into other shoppers like the woman standing above us.
“Okay, Mommy!” she said excitedly. And off we went to the fruit snack aisle (aka Heaven On Earth).
But what I wanted to tell that woman — and all the inquiring minds in the universe, actually — is this:
Yes. My daughter is adopted. In fact, two of my three children are adopted. But they are my daughters nonetheless. And my adopted children are no different than the non-adopted children in aisle 15 screaming for a sleeve of Oreos. They’re no different than the kids begging their dad for a candy bar and package of M&M’s in the check-out line. They’re no different than the young girls giggling while their parents chase them with an overflowing cart up and down the freezer section that has become a NASCAR track of sorts.
My adopted children are no different than any other children.
They can hear the same, see the same, and comprehend the same as children who aren’t adopted. They can laugh just as loud, throw tantrums in the middle of everywhere, and smile just as big as children who aren’t adopted.
While you may have good intentions, your words matter. Your labels matter. Your questions matter.
So before you stop us in the middle of our shopping cart etiquette pep talk in the cereal aisle, I’d encourage you to think about why it’s important for you to know whether my child is adopted. If you can’t think of a good reason aside from pure and simple curiosity, perhaps it’s better to not ask in the first place. Or at least hold off until we have the shopping cart route safely secured . . .