Picture this with me: You’re browsing through the aisles at Target while your kids are in school. The year just started and summer is finally over so you’re really looking forward to the break. You turn down the main toy aisle and see a family walking towards you. Mom is a beautiful brunette with blue eyes who has that worn out mom look. Walking next to her is the cutest little Asian boy with sun kissed skin that evidences many days by the pool this summer. Then your eyes glance to the child seat in the cart and the most gorgeous baby girl with the most silky brown skin and fluffy curly hair looks back at you with her big glowing brown eyes. What have you just encountered? What we in the adoption world call, a Conspicuous family. Basically it means they stand out because they don’t match. What do you say? You want to say SOMETHING, but you don’t want to risk being rude. Mom looks so tired you just want to encourage her.
Here are some examples of things I myself have encountered in the lovely mom-haven that is Target and then some counter examples of what I wish they would have said!
“Wow! You do know where those come from don’t you?”
Yes, I sure do, mountains upon mountains of paperwork and a LONG LONG wait.
What I wish they said: “Wow, what a beautiful family! You’re doing a great job mom!”
“Does he speak English?”
Well, at 6 months old he pretty much speaks jibberish.
What I wish they said: “Wow, what a beautiful family! I bet he’ll be a handful when he learns to talk!”
“Are those all yours?”
No, I just like taking other peoples multiple toddlers to the store with me.
What I wish they said: “Wow, what a beautiful family! They grow quickly mama.”
“Some parents these days will let their children get away with anything”
Yes, allowing my three year old who has PTSD have a meltdown over food is perfectly ok. In fact, you can’t stop it once the fight or flight has moved in. You just have to hunker down and let it run it’s course.
What I wish they said: “Wow, what a beautiful family! Do you need help with anything?”
You can see the pattern emerging of
“Wow, what a beautiful family!“
That is the most encouraging thing you can say to someone in the trenches of adoption or foster care when you meet them in public. This way of building a family is exhausting and draining, we need our communities to rally around what we’re doing and recognize it is beautiful and painful. It is a beautifully hard messy life, but it’s ours and we wouldn’t trade it for the world.
You, my friends, have a beautiful family!