Tuesday, July 19, 2011

My Moral Dilemma

It's interesting being a single parent.  It's even more interesting when you've adopted and it's a transracial adoption.  I have mentioned before that I rarely get any rude or intrusive questions because quite honestly, where I live, I'm not the only family that looks like "us".  I live in a very diverse city/town and the population has a high number of interracial families of all sorts.

While I'm not shy about adoption, I also don't go around telling complete strangers my business or Tigger's business.  And let's face it, while in a total view of things she has two mothers...during the day to day happenings she is my daughter period....no qualifiers necessary.  I don't go around announcing that this is my adopted daughter Tigger, nor do I go all the time saying oh here's Tigger...I adopted her.  Yes close friends know our general story....I'm glad that I'm connecting with more mom friends at church through playgroup and Sabbath School, however, it's not something that needs to be shared with everyone I meet especially if they are strangers.  (I'm having issues with a foster mom I met that anyone she is talking to, she says of the baby..."we are foster parents, this baby's mother just abandoned her"....ummmm I try not to slap her silly, but I'm about to....my mom is closer to slapping this person silly than I am....no one needs to know details of that sweet baby)

Which brings me to an incident that happened a couple of weeks ago.  Tigger and I were shopping for my dad's birthday gift and while at the store in the escalator, two people were behind us...I guess Tigger smiled at them...and let's face it, Tigger has beautiful eyes, and the woman was asking me if she was my daughter....I said yes and then she smiles and says....."she got a black daddy don't she?"  and well, without missing a beat I  smile and say "yes, yes she does".  The guy was horrified and apologized for his crazy sister....I told him not to worry about it....and they complimented Tigger on her hair and eyes and told us we were both "cuties".

Um ok.....they were nice enough.  Problem is, with Tigger, her mother was black and dad was another race.  So hence my moral dilemma.  During brief social exchanges, I don't feel I need to explain and educate about adoption and foster care especially since Tigger can decide whether or not to do that when she's older.....yet as a Christian, it kinda feels very wrong to lie.  Now I have been asked before if Tigger is "mixed" and I answer yes....but answering that question isn't a lie.  When Tigger is older and knows more (although I know that she comprehends way more than what I think she does in general at this point) isn't it bad if she sees/hears mom lying?  Does it really matter especially if it's to keep/maintain some sort of privacy?  It just kind of seems like a slippery slope....yet how to maintain my child's information/privacy until she is old enough to come up with answers she wants to when questions arise.

To my blogosphere peeps out there....especially my readers that have adopted transracially....how have you handled this?  do you have the same inner struggle I do with what I consider to be moral dilemma's?  If you have and would like to give insight, please by all means!

8 comments:

Jenny said...

Hey Dannie. Hey, I do read your blog, I just rarely comment!

I've learned there's 2 ways I can handle this kind of stuff. (And it always ALWAYS goes better in my head!)

Option number 1 - snarky. I'm typically not a fan because I try to show the boys how to be respectful and graceful. I've only went all snarky once, when some lady asked me if I found them on the doorstep. Seriously. In front of them.

Option 2 - "why do you ask?" So very much easier to say in my head. And if they actually answer that they are curious or whatever, just say "oh" and keep moving. Honestly, I struggle with this because I don't want to come across as rude, but our family privacy is more important. I'm still stumbling around the words.

Ok, I guess I'm the pro on answering without really answering their question. Queen of Vague. I've finally come up with the perfect (in my head) answer to our most commonly asked nosy question, which is "so where's he from?" (and then they repeat with the other kid). My perfect answer - "While we know that our kids' birthplaces are and important part of their histories, we respect their privacy. We all live in (our town)." MUCH easier in my head than coming out of my mouth!

The questions have slowed down a little as the years pass, but just today I had a "how long have you had him?" at W-Mart. I seriously was stumped for a polite but none of your business answer.

Ticia said...

I run into a similar problem with the boys, when people want to know, either: 1. are they natural? no, my children are robots or 2. are they identical?

The first questions I try to bite back snarky responses mostly....... And wonder how to ignore a rather rude question.

As to the second, see short of ordering a DNA test we won't know for sure if they're identical. I don't really want to pay for one, so I usually just mumble an answer, or ask "what do you think?" And when I say yes, it feels like lying because I don't know, but at the same time I don't want to go into a long discussion involving my reproductive system and the whys and hows of twins.

So, all of that being said to tell you I don't know the right answer. I think probably the answer you've given is the right one, because it'll be better for her to let strangers assume, so there isn't a scene or something awkward.

JenniferY said...

A powerful piece of advise someone gave me once was "you are not obligated to say anything." It's like I finally got permission to not tell my sons story without his permission, feel uneasy, inadequate, or lie. I just walk away. I say good day and be on my way. Just because someone talks to you doesn't mean we have to talk back. To me this was HUGH. Sometimes I don't want to be the spokeswoman for adoption or explain Asian culture.

Other times I can't shut up.

My first priority is what my child will hear and how it will affect him. I don't want him to learn just because someone asks he has to share his private information. No person should.

Mie said...

All of our kids look like they could be our own, so we've never had to explain the race type questions. But, we've almost always had kids who look both age and feature wise like twins - so we get that question a lot and the feeling is a bit the same - you don't want to blab their story around town and you don't want to lie.

In our case, most of our time when people ask if they are twins we simply say no they are XX months (or 2 weeks in our current situation) apart. Obviously that confuses them but it's at the grocery store and we've got 4 kids so it's easy to just smile and walk away. Especially true if they are nosy.

Then there are those who look utterly confused and genuinely curious. Since we have 4 I usually say "we're foster parents" and depending I might say "some are biological and some are not". That way, I'm focusing on my husband and I being foster parents vs. a particular kids' story.

I like doing it this way, even though that does say that some of my kids are in a foster-parent-type situation, because for those who are curious it shows them that foster parenting is something normal families like us do...it gives them a face to think about rather than all the horrible stories they might hear on the news.

I will admit there have been a few times I just give them the impression they are twins or don't deny it...I like that option least.

In your situation it's really different, not only is she adopted vs. foster, but the race vs. age thing is a bit of a different issue too. The thought that came to mind when I pictured myself in your situation was that I'd probably say something like "well actually, her mom WAS black" or something like that. That will give people the hint that her birth mom was not in her life any more and depending on how you handle it they will probably also get the hint that you'd rather not share details. Or you could say something like "her story is hers to tell when she gets older". Or, something like "she definitely didn't get that beautiful (hair, eyes, skin) from me!". Lots of options without lying - it's just what you're comfortable with.

Laura said...

Girl, you know I love giving child-rearing advice so here we go with responses:

"You stupid asshole, you better worry where your own baby came from and stop worrying about mine."

"I don't know, I'm waiting on DNA results from the Jerry Springer Show."

"Yes she's my daughter, I don't know who her daddy was, but it was a great party."

"Kid? What kid? What the hell are you talking about?"

Stare and do sign language ending with a middle finger extended.

Lean close and whisper "Turkey baster."

If you need more, just let me know. You're welcome.

DannieA said...

I knew I'd get some good responses....thank you to all that have been there done that, and of course Laura, thank you for the comedic relief....(she has the weirdest blog out there that makes me chortle)

I know some of you have had more questions thrown your way and have had more chances to "practice"....since I rarely ever get any questions that make me squirm if I think I'm lying. Most people that comment on her, comment her cuteness, start small talk about how she looks like their grandchild and that 'mixed' babies are the cutest ever...so those aren't so bad. As I have stated in other posts as well, if one sees a Caucasian mom with a child that is darker than Tigger...9/10 they are biologically related so I don't tend to get the questions that most transracial families get especially since I'm never out with a significant other/spouse. So these comments helped me think about future interactions with people in public in general. You guys are the best :)

theadoptedones said...

Dannie - just tell the truth and say her mother is black. People do know about adoption - its been around for awhile.

And honestly - it really does not matter if you tell people general things about her story - others have already talked about it in much more depth with lots of speculations behind your back. At least you can provide factual general details to combat the gossip they have already heard.

Kelleydiona said...

When someone asks about her race....tell them to ask her father! GOD! That will shut em up! :)

(I am planning to foster/adopt trans-racially and I already have my comments ready) LOL