Which ones are your fake kids?
Me: Well, the one in the mismatched shoes is mine; so is the one trying to write on the wall. The kid on the table is mine, and I left a few at home. Those four are my sister Jane’s. This one belongs to my sister Terry.
Betty: Okay, now which one of these is Jane’s real kid?”
I knew immediately what she meant; Jane adopted three of her children and had one by birth, but I didn't like Betty's phrasing.
Me: Real kid? They all look pretty real to me. Jane hasn’t played with dolls in years.
We both laugh like what I said was quite witty. I look pleadingly at Terry to rescue me, but she is redirecting the wall draw-er.
Betty: What I mean is that she had one of them the normal way…
Me: There are lots of normal ways to have a child.
Betty: But, which one is hers?
Me: All of them.
She must have decided at this point that I was really dense because she finally spit out what we both knew she was getting at all along.
Betty: Which one is her birth child?
I would have just told her, because it’s no secret who is adopted and who was born into the family; it’s a nonissue, but I was a little irritated by the long lead in.
Me: All of the kids are so much a part of the family it doesn’t matter how they came to us.
She looked a little surprised and changed tactics.
Betty: Now, I hear some of them are siblings…
Again, I knew where she was leading. Two of my adopted nieces and nephews share birth parents, as do my foster sons.
Me: Yes, there sure are a lot of siblings.
Betty: But aren’t some of them real siblings?
Me: Oh, yes. My brother has two kids. They’re real siblings. My seven kids are real siblings. Jane’s four are real siblings. Terry only has one. The poor guy doesn’t have any siblings, but we make up for it in cousins.
I smiled brightly as if I had just delivered incredibly enlightening information. Poor Betty. It wasn't that she was asking anything invasive; I just didn't like her wording. At that point she went looking for someone else to talk to.
It's a little insensitive you ask someone which kids are “hers” or “real,” . Instead, try asking her to share their adoption story, or how each kid joined the family. Everyone is curious, and it's okay to ask, if your friends. Just please discuss adoption in a way that shows you believe it is one way of bringing a family together, just as childbirth is, and that both are normal and valid.
(I didn’t ask anyone if I could use their names. So, I just made some up…)