My Family Stands Out

I remember back three years ago, when we were starting our adoption and required to do lots of adoption education, we took an online course called "Conspicuous Families" and was about how your family will always stand out from now on. This course made us write out HOW we would answer certain rude or obnoxious questions about being a multiracial family. Back then, it was hard to know exactly how we would, because our son wasn't there. Plus, there is something different about answering on paper and answering in real-life.

My husband and I live in rural Alabama, and the number of families with children than are 1. adopted or 2. don't look like their parents are few. I've come to terms with the looks and comments, for the most part, but sometimes I'm more aware of the fact that our family looks different to people.

It doesn't bother me right now, but I know that one day our son Israel will understand what the looks are and what the questions really mean. Will and I were explaining to a couple recently about how our family experiences attention (negative or positive) in public: you either get praise, disgust, or stares. Most people feel like they have to say SOMETHING to prove they are okay with your family situation, or give a big stare down if they are not okay with it. About an hour after this conversation, we all went out to dinner and a white woman came up to us and made a big show about how cute Israel was, and then said she had grandchildren that looked like him. Our friends were surprised that it was true, that we really can't just enjoy a dinner out without some kind of acknowledgement that Israel is different.

I remember when Israel was younger and I would wear him in the Ergo almost everywhere. At the grocery store I would get the most bizarre looks as my black baby was nestled close to my white body. My favorite comment was one time when I was by myself with Israel, and a black man said "Is that your son?" "Yes" "Well you guys make some pretty babies." "Thanks!" And I just left it at that. I didn't feel like I needed to explain our adoption at all.

I think what I didn't expect was that I wouldn't always want to talk about adoption. When we were in the adoption process (especially in the early part of it) I felt the desire to talk about adoption with everyone, and when I thought about being a conspicuous family in the future, it would lead to positive conversations about adoption every time. Well, sometimes I'm not in the mood to talk about adoption, or the timing is just weird or I'm in the checkout line of Wal-Mart and my son is screaming because he hates the grocery cart. For me, I don't want to feel the pressure to talk about adoption all the time because when I look at Israel I don't always think adoption- I just think: my son.

What I want to say to other families who are also conspicuous is this: process it how you want. You won't always have a textbook answer reply, and it is okay to do what you need to do to protect your family. Sometimes that means kindly educating others, sometimes that means walking away. I'm thankful that I have a few more years before I have to really master this area when Israel can start to understand.

To families who are not conspicuous: Don't feel like you have to verbally affirm families everytime you see someone who has adopted. Sometimes it is nice to just go in public and feel normal. If you want, smile at them or say "you have a beautiful family." You don't have to share your story about someone you know who has adopted every time you see someone who has adopted children.

I really don't mind being a conspicuous family. I love my son's skin color and think he is the most beautiful thing in the world. I am not ashamed to be different, and honestly the only times I ever really think about the fact that Israel does not look like my husband and I is when others remind me. I'm thankful for the way God shaped our family, and hope that when people look at our family, they see a little piece of the way the Kingdom will be when Christ returns.


  1. Love this! Sometimes they are foster kiddos too...and that makes the answer even more challenging!

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