25 June 2014

Transracial adoption: One of these things is not like the other...

An interesting incident from January 2012 when I was still a new mom...

We are in line at the grocery store, my five month-old daughter sound asleep in her baby carrier on the cart and me watching the woman in front of us unloading her cart's contents onto the belt.  The woman is blonde, blue-eyed, petite, and pretty. The little boy standing next to her - probably five years-old or so - has to be her son because he looks exactly like her. He is adorable. I can't help staring at him.

The little boy notices me gazing at him so I give him what I hope is my best "I really like little kids" smile. Thankfully he smiles back. Then he notices the baby carrier sitting on my cart and makes his way over to me.

"Can I see the baby?" he asks me in a raspy voice.

"Sure, Buddy," I say and move aside.

Grasping the cart handle he hoists himself up for a good look. Apparently this is a kid who really likes babies because he gets a goofy big smile on his face. At this moment his mom notices him missing from her side and looks around to see him standing on my cart.  She looks as though she's going to call him back so I give her my most "it's OK" smile with a little hand wave and she relaxes while the cashier continues to scan and bag her items. After another moment the boy's smile fades as he looks from Esme to me and back again several times. He steps down from the cart and with a serious expression says slowly and loudly, "S h e ' s   v e r y   b r o w n."

The petite blonde looks alarmed at this loud pronouncement from her son.

"Yes, she is," I reply.

"She's very brown," he repeats, "and you're NOT."

A look of sheer horror settles on the face of the little boy's mom, but I wave her off gently before she can interrupt.

"No,  I'm not," I say with a chuckle.

The little boy thinks about this for a moment and then asks, "So, is your husband brown?"

"Omigod," says the little boy's mom her face flushing in utter embarrassment.

Personally, I don't think she should be embarrassed at all. Her kid is a genius! How many five year-olds would make that leap?

"No, Buddy, my husband isn't brown."

He looks confused.

"My daughter is adopted."

"What does that mean?"

The boy's mother is now making quiet strangling noises with her face in her hands, "Honey, please!"

Ignoring his mother's near panic, I say, 'That means that my daughter grew in someone else's tummy, but that lady couldn't tale care of her when she was born. So my little girl came to live with me and my husband and now we're her parents."

"Oh, OK," he says cheerfully walking back to his mother's side.

"I am SO sorry," says the mom looking as if she'd rather be anywhere else.

"Please don't apologize. It's just fine. Really."

My daughter is brown.

Very brown.

And I am not.

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