It happened again yesterday.
I get asked this question all the time, and I never know what to say.
Stranger: "Oh, your children are so cute, you adopted them, right? Are they brothers?"
Me (smiling, heart sinking): "Of course they are!"
Stranger (not getting it): "Oh, yes, I know, but are they really brothers, you know, blood brothers?"
Me (fumbling, hoping my kids haven't heard this nonsense): "We..uh..don't really share a lot of personal information about our kids' past with other people...uh...we're all family here!" (big smile, eyes pleading with them to please stop before I have to be rude)...
The conversation usually ends with some kind of comment indicating what kind of heroes we are for adopting them. (sigh)
I know people are just trying to be nice, and asking what they think is a simple, interesting and innocent question.
But it isn't.
Every time my kids hear that question asked, it tells them that adoption is somehow "less," and that "blood" means something better, and that brothers aren't "real" brothers unless they came from the same parents. And the "heroes" comment tells them that they are some kind of victims, and that we "saved" them.
I'm really just thinking aloud here, and I can't seem to articulate what this really means to me. I know they needed a family, and we answered the call. I know that kids are best off in a loving family with their birth parents.
But so what? That isn't the hand they were dealt.
This is the life they have. It doesn't mean a thing about who they are, and their value as human beings and the depth of meaning in their relationships with us and each other. The questions, curious or well-meaning or otherwise, only dig at their value, and undermine the strength of their ties to us.
See, the truth is, we were meant to be together. As truly as if they were flesh of my flesh and bone of my bone. They were born to be in this family, even though they were born half a world away. They were born to be brothers. They were born to be our children. It was God's plan for them from the moment they were first knit in their birth mothers' womb; and thanks be to God, we were all listening. Who cares about genetics and race and blood? They are only the means by which God makes us human. They are only the beginning of this amazing story--for any of us!--not its end.
I guess it wouldn't be right to just snap, "What difference would it make? Mind your own business and quit playing with my kids' heads!"
What I need is a strong answer that ends the conversation, that doesn't put the questioner down, but gets the message across. One that isn't tainted with any sense of apology on my part. One that overflows with confidence. One that overpowers them with my winning smile.
...But most of all, one that assures my boys how much they're loved, and how secure is their place with us, no matter what a stranger may ask or assume.
Maybe something like, "You know, it really doesn't matter. We're just so grateful God brought us together to be a family. Thanks for your interest!" Maybe a little pat on their arm as I quickly turn my attention to the children, and move along.
(And I won't say, "Good DAY, sir!" when I'm done.)
Might that work?