Today I had to take my oldest daughter to the hospital for some bloodwork. Between registration and going in to have blood drawn, my daughters and I waited with the crowd to be called back again. Gabriela, my seven-year old, sat down at a play table and Allie and I opened books to read. I couldn't concentrate, however, because I felt like people were staring at me. And whispering. I knew exactly why. I looked to my right and there was a couple staring at me, then Gabriela, then Allie, and whispering. Again, I knew why. I didn't need to hear their conversation to know what they were saying. "The older one looks just like her but the other one must be from China." Gabriela was oblivious to the stares but I wasn't. After a few seconds I heard the dreaded words:
"Excuse me." I knew it was meant for me. I looked up, ready to answer.
"Yes?" I asked.
"Is she your daughter?"
Well duh, of course she is, didn't she hear her call me MOMMY a second ago?
"Is she Chinese?"
"No," I answered, not offering any other information.
"Where is she from?" the woman was not giving up. This was my chance. This time I had a smart-ass answer that my husband and I had always joked about using when people are rude enough to ask me how my family was formed.
"My uterus." I replied.
The woman looked startled, confused.
"You mean she isn't adopted?"
Now I'm mad. What nerve! Didn't I just say the word UTERUS? I am floored. Gabriela is not listening, she's playing happily.
"No, she is not."
"Oh. Well, no offense, but she looks Chinese."
"None taken. My mother is Chinese."
Now the woman has no idea what is going on.
"Really? You don't look Chinese."
Here was the coup de grace that I had dreamed of using.
"I know. My mom was adopted."
I got the girls together and walked to the other side of the waiting room and left the woman and her husband to ponder how my mother is Chinese but I'm not and how Gabriela looks Chinese but is not adopted.
This was not a young couple that perhaps was asking about Gabriela because they wanted to adopt. I've met parents like that and they know how to approach adoptive parents for the most part. I've also met other adoptive parents who will come up to me and say something like "She is so cute. Is she from _____." Parents of Chinese children know Gabriela is not Chinese. (She is Guatemalan, by the way.)
These people are rarely people interested in adopting. I am more than happy to help those people. These are tehe people that have asked me how much Gabriela "cost," why she was given up for adoption, couldn't we have children of our own, and asked if I met her "real" mother.
I used to take these opportunities to educate the rude and the curious about international adoption and adoption-sensitive language but I'm getting tired. I'm not ashamed of how Gabriela came to be my daughter, on the contrary, I am grateful and proud. I am an advocate of adoption. However, people need to think before they approach a stranger and just let things fly out of their mouths, especially when the child is right there.