It is obvious to say to most people when they see us out in public, but we don’t share the same skin color as our children (except 1). It has been obvious since our first outing with our oldest where there were whispers in the Burger King play area that she was not our biological daughter. We actually heard them whisper, “They have a black baby.” From that moment on we became a walking billboard to the world: for foster care and adoption.
We were a walking billboard because we stuck out like having a huge sign above your head announcing that we were foster parents/adoptive parents. You can’t run from it and you can’t take it off. It forever defines who you are to those watching you in the grocery store, who see you in church, those who see you at the mall. They can get used to the sign above your head and accept you for who your family is, but the sign is still there.
For me I made a point in my mind to never take that negatively. I chose to believe some basic things about our family. I had the most beautiful children in the world, and people couldn’t help themselves when they stared at us. I also felt that we had amazingly, well behaved children which caused people to be in awe. For us it could also be sheer numbers as we kept fostering and adopting and have nine children total. Now was the second always true? Of course not, but these two reasons were what I chose to believe because I wanted to make the stares, glances, whispers, and conversations positive.
I am a positive person and I loved our children desperately. I know others may have looked at us and thought we were crazy, or “wrong” in some way, but I never believed that to be true. When people approached us I would smile and believe the best. Most people have an interest in foster care or adoption, and asked some simple questions about the process. I would welcome those questions as long as they didn’t cross the boundaries of being rude.
For me personally I am an extrovert and genuinely love talking with people, and if there is one thing I am passionate about besides Jesus, it is foster care and adoption. It was easy for me to deal with, but I warn people all the time, both as a mom and as an adoption consultant with Christian Adoption Consultants to think about how they will respond ahead of time. Ask yourself this question: Are you ready to be put in the “spotlight” that a walking billboard brings? For some of my thoughts on choosing how to respond to questions on transracial adoption check out Part 2 and check out Part 3 on some perspectives on handling life when there are people who simply hate you or your kids because of transracial adoption.
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