Monday, February 28, 2011

Three Cheers

I read a lot of adoption memoirs. Adoptees, birthparents, adoptive parents, non-adopted siblings of adopted siblings. I never tire of learning about how adoption has affected the people most directly involved. I sometimes see myself and my family in the stories of others. Other times, I cringe, disagree or cannot relate at all.

I have read books relating the experiences of my transracially adopted counterparts, who were adopted in the 1960's and 1970's. Growing up in a same race family, we could share the fact of our adoption with whom we wanted. Transracially adopted kids of my generation not only were part of a pioneering group of families, but also didn't have the luxury of anonymity. They were often subjected to hostility, looks of disapproval, name calling and worse.  Also the prevailing wisdom of the time was to ignore the differences and not to pay too much attention to the 'race thing'.  I am thankful this 'wisdom' has changed. There is more openness and discussion around adoption and differences are acknowledged and celebrated.  I hope when Mikias and Jemberu are adults they will be able to look back on these growing up years positively.

I am writing this post in an airport, I am with Kurt and the boys.  I decided to hang back a bit from them as we walked through the terminal and see if I could observe  if we were noticed differently than other, less conspicuous families. Most people take little notice of our family, which I think says a lot about the acceptance of tranracial adoption in this generation (and the fact that people are doing and dealing with their own stuff and that the Noyces are not the center of the world!) . However, we do get our share of second looks but it is almost always accompanied by smiles or what look like nods of approval.  On the other hand, the smiles might not have anything to do with us as a family. It might be directed at Jemberu, who has not had a hair cut in nearly a year. One little boy was staring boldly at us. He keep tapping his mom on the leg, when she didn't acknowledge him he yelled, "Mom look at his HAIR!". So I will have to reconduct my little social experiment after Jem decides to cut his "big giant" hair.

We are about and about everyday doing our thing.  The truth is that most people are great.  The fact that I have probably written a blog post about every truly nutty or negative thing that people have said says a lot.   People do ask us questions but are almost always respectful and tactful.  The most asked question I get, is if the boys are 'real' brothers.  I usually say, "Yes of course they are 'real brothers' are you wondering if they are biological brothers?"  Almost 100% of the time people say something like 'Oh yes, thats what I meant' or 'of course they are real brothers, that's not what I meant.'  I know that most people do not know 'positive adoption language' and that they really do want to get it right.

This past week we were on a beach vacation.  There was a large extended family, with lots of  boys that we saw everyday.  My boys played with those boys all day long, every day.  I had lovely conversations with the adults.  We were not asked one adoption question.  Not from the kids.  Not from the adults.

Today, I want to take a moment to thank everyone who 'gets it'.  Here's  to those who ask politely and out of earshot of the boys and to those who don't ask at all.  To Devyn and Maddy, the world's most amazing daughters and sisters, who didn't sign up to be adoption advocates, but are, in a big way.  To our friends and neighbors who get it and help others do the same.  To our small, mostly white, town who welcomes families that are not like everyone else's and let's us just be us.  To the advocates of adoption and adoptive families everywhere who educate others by sharing what they know and who teach by example. Hip, hip, hooray!


  1. That's so great that everyone is so supportive! I wish that were everyone's story.

  2. I dig the "rock star hair!" I also dig your family.

  3. I agree! Although I too blog about the negatives and nutty things, I have had an overwhelmingly positive experience. I love that people accept my family just as we are. We too get smiles from people.. and sometimes I wonder if they are smiling because I have yet to cut Joshua's hair.. ha! :) So glad we are connected through the blogging world!

  4. Thanks for a little heart warming moment! Often feel the same. Just went through a stage where the race issue came up everywhere I turned and it helps to get perspective through other eyes sometimes :-)

  5. This is just beautiful, and I love that you haven't had many "off" experiences. Do you have any resources of what positive adoption language is? As I mentioned on another post, my husband and I are starting the adoption process after 4 years of infertility treatments, and multiple miscarriage. We are thrilled, but I hate to admit I often catch myself saying negative things that I would HATE if anyone said to me. (Confession: Last night, in talking about birth parents, I actually used the term "real mom". I wanted to slap myself after, and was thankful it was just me and hubby talking alone!) Ugh. I'm grateful that I've already learned to steel my nerves a bit, after years and some terrible things being said to us about our infertility - some from unknowing people and some just flat out hurtful. Like the grandmother of a friend who told me the reason I can't get or stay pregnant is that my husband and I are an interracial couple, and his sperm don't recognize me as a real woman... (took some time to shake that one off...) - I've realized that more often than not education does a lot to help people along. I'm also realizing that I could benefit from some more education on adoption myself, and any resources would be great!

    1. I have loved and appreciated all of your thoughtful and encouraging comments on my blog. Thank you!

      WOWZA on the comment from your friend's grandmother...unreal. Amazing that we have so many multiracial people in the world. How do you explain that, color blind sperm? Yikes.

      I find Adoptive Families magazine and website to be a great resource. this is a great link about positive adoption language.

      Thanks for reading!