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Where is their “real” mom?

Do you find it hard to respond sensitively to insensitive questions about your adopted children?

traciTracie was enjoying the day at her local pool with her two daughters, both adopted from China. They were splashing around on this carefree summer day until a little girl from her daughter’s Kindergarten class swam over, turned to Tracie, and asked, “Where is their real mom?” Tracie’s heart sunk like a stone. Her girls were in very close ear shot. While she’s been pretty open with them about their adoption journey, the birth mother part of their story hadn’t come up much. Until today.

Tracie was so aghast, she responded to the little girl, “I am their real mom.” But the little girl protested, “Aren’t they born in China?! You don’t look like them!” Tracie simply repeated, “I am their real mom.” And she quickly took her diving stick, threw it twenty feet in the other direction and exited the pool with her girls.

Tracie, like many moms who’ve had transracial adoptions, isn’t a stranger to intrusive questions about her girls. She fields questions on an almost weekly basis, with the most common question being, “Are your girls really sisters?” Depending on the day, she’ll answer “yes” or further elaborate, “they are sisters but they’re not biologically related.” But answering blunt questions from a child caught her off guard. What if she hadn’t been next to her girls at the pool? How would her girls have responded if they were asked such questions directly from their peers?

If you’re an adoptive parent, how did you explain birth parents, abandonment and all the “hard stuff” that comes along with your kids’ adoption journey? And how have you prepared your children to respond to these questions themselves?

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