After thinking about this for what feels like forever, I’ve decided to change the name of the blog from Adopting Charlie to My Real Kid. This new name feels more fitting for a couple of reasons, not the least of which is that we ended up naming our son Miles and not Charlie. And also because even though our family was formed through adoption, he IS my real kid.
When you adopt a child that doesn’t share your skin tone, everyone wants to know the details. Everywhere we go, we are the center of attention. People are curious, and I’m fine with that. Ask anyone who knows me; I’ve never shied away from being the center of attention. I’m a total ham. So, I’ve never been bothered by the stares that we receive because they are usually accompanied by smiles. I always answer questions that people ask. “Where was he born?” is one that I hear constantly, and everyone is always surprised when I say Texas. Not a big deal–happens all the time.
But once and awhile someone will ask me a question like: “Do you have any “real” kids at home?” or “Where is his “real” mom?”
This happened the other day in the checkout line at the grocery store. The cashier was well-meaning (people usually are) but totally clueless. She kept using the term “real” even after I corrected her with: “No, I don’t have any biological children. Is that what you mean by real?”
I understand what she means by “real” and it doesn’t make me feel bad. I wouldn’t mind if it was just me that she was talking to, but now that Miles is almost 19 months old, he understands everything we say. He’s starting to answer questions and follow directions and it won’t be long before someone implying that he isn’t “real” is going to hurt his feelings.
I don’t want to answer questions from strangers about his birth family in front of him or why his birth mother decided that adoption was the best thing for him. And I don’t want to have to defend the fact that he is quote-unquote real. Imagine how that would make you feel if you were a little kid? (Not to mention the fact that he is 100% my real kid. I’ve changed just about each and every one of his diapers since the day he was born. I sit up with him at night when he’s cutting teeth. He runs to me when he gets hurt or scared. He makes me carry him (the entire time) while I vacuum. Trust me, this is as real as it gets.)
So now when the cashier at the grocery store asks me if I have any “real kids” at home, I’ll just tell her to read all about it on my website… MyRealKid.com. That should shut her up! 🙂
Anyway, I hope you will continue to read as I navigate the next part of my journey as a transracial adoptive mom (and maybe another adoption soon!). I learn something new almost every day about what it means to be a parent and especially the adoptive mother of a Black son. Although, full disclosure: most of the time I have no idea what I’m doing and am totally winging it–aren’t we all?
Cheers, and thank you so much for reading!
p.s. AdoptingCharlie.com will redirect to MyRealKid.com so hopefully people will have no problem finding the site with its new name. MyRealKid will house the entire archive of Adopting Charlie posts–just consider it a facelift. I’m not entirely sure what will happen if you follow the blog, so it would be great if you would hit follow blog button again to be sure you get updates.
8 thoughts on “My Adopted Son is My Real Kid”
I really like the new name. There are so many people who are unable to understand things different from their own experiences, normalizing what they can understand as “real” and everything else as “other.” So many times they never understand how damaging their comments are. I haven’t experienced this through transracial adoption (yet!) but I have in other ways, certainly. It sounds like your calm approach using the correct language is a good one – whether or not the people get it, it’s what Miles will hear over and over and over, and surely that’s the most important thing. I’m glad you’re writing again, and I love opening my email and seeing another picture of this cute little dude!
Thank you so much, Ethan! I’m so glad you like the new name – it was kind of scary changing it but it felt like time. I always appreciate your comments – always so nice to hear from you. Thanks again, Allie
Love the new blog Allie. You make me so proud and not just because you are my daughter!!! You and Jamie are an inspiration and I am so glad that I get to be Miles’ Kiki (grandma). He is SO your son! Enjoy every moment. He is also a big ham!
Thanks, Mom! We love you!
I love the new name! Your blog is incredibly inspiring. Thank you!
Thank you so much, Valerie!
I’ve just stumbled across your blog and an so thankful for everything you’ve written. In response to this post, I wanted to share an idea. My daughters (adopted from Uganda) are 6 and 9. We’re also a foster family, so the questions we get in public are MANY. I finally created little “business” cards that have a brief response to the typical questions: “Yes I’m their mom. No, this isn’t a good time to explain their story. As you can imagine, we get lots of questions, many of which are not appropriate to answer in front of the kids. Today we’re just enjoying some time as family. Thank you for offering hair advice. We have a wonderful community of black women who help care for the children’s hair, but if it looks like it needs some help – that’s just because we’re having an off day, which happens to the best of us, right?” On the back is a link to my blog and an email address. People have responded so well to these cards and it is good for my kids, I think, to see that we don’t NEED to answer everyone’s questions – it’s made them good at standing up for themselves and protecting their stories. Love how intentional you are being about your son’s identity and community. Keep it up, mama.
Thank you so much for this comment – I love the idea of creating little cards. I have thought about that because I, too, have gotten awkward questions that I don’t want to answer in front of Miles once he’s old enough to understand. Some woman asked me once why his real mom didn’t want him. I would never want him to hear a question like that! Thank you. 🙂