Out of the mouths of babies

Walking up the short flight of stairs at our local temple with Kay happily perched on my hips, a childish voice rang out behind me “Why is that Indian couple carrying white babies Appa!?”. I turned instinctively feeling defensive and amused. There was this little boy all of seven or eight years looking to his dad for explanation on what he saw was an anomaly. White babies being carried by desi adults in a temple. I was tempted to wait to see what answer he would get. I also felt sorry for the man who was taken aback by the blunt and rather loud question. Shooting a reassuring smile and waving to the little boy I sped to catch up with K and my mom who were following the priest rather rapidly.

We had a long day starting with a small ceremony in the temple for the first mottai for the girls followed by a full head shave at the local kiddie salon and then ear-piercing at Claires at the mall. By the time we were done in the evening, my feet hurt and so did my head.

Waking up this morning from a restful sleep, the questions came back thick and fast. The little boy said aloud what most people who watched our new family make it rounds in the temple thought. As we stopped in front of the Ambal sannidhanam or the Perumal, I was aware of curious eyes trying to connect the dots. I saw myself in them. If I had seen an Indian couple with trans-racially adopted children my eyes would have been drawn to them, connecting the dots and trying to imagine the story behind their family.

As an adoptive mom, my feelings were at odds. On one end I want to play the role of an educator. I wanted to stop and explain to the little boy that families are created in different ways and ours was just one of the many ways. On the other end, I craved acceptance. To see ourselves as normal. As any other family of four who might visit a temple. This is probably just the beginning of a lifetime of awkward and uncomfortable questions. Questions I need to be better prepared for. Just another reminder of the complexities of a family that straddles the inherent loss and joy in adoption.

10 comments

  1. Hey Laksh,

    I think this is a really nice thing that has happened to you and your kids. I hope you get used to the questions and stares, but as an outsider, I think it’s a very beautiful thing when I see pictures of you all happy and smiling!

    Take care,
    Rekha.

  2. I know how you feel Lakshmi. My cousin and I grew up in the same house . She was adopted, I was not and this was a conservative community in Chennai in the 1970’s. Everyone in my family is very very fair, and she was dark, very differently featured etc. Let alone someone else – when she got to 5-6 yrs she would always ask me why she looked different, and being all of 3 years elder I would say it was baby colours and she would grow out of it 🙂 and I remember our parents hugging us both at the end of these conversations. Though it was possibly very awkward for the elders then, now its a fond laughable memory for all of us.
    So, I think all these questions kind of find their own resolution.

  3. hi kay and cee’s mom Laksh,

    i think it makes perfect pic; indian couple with white kids. Laksh, there will always be questions, looks some lund some silent; if not about kids something else.

    some questions are best answered with just what you did.. a smile and a wave to the little boy! proud of you girl!

  4. I can understand how you feel…all the stares and questions in the eyes of people will keep coming. I think you should stop paying heed to the curious looks. People can be insensitive sometimes.

  5. We get that every day as well. They love to stare and sometimes ask about race/disability (Bubbles’ amputation) etc. Had a special experience this weekend when we were at my eldest daughter’s softball tournament and this kid with cerebral palsy came in in a wheelchair, pushed by his father. MY kids STARED so hard I thought their eyes would pop out… Now I was the one talking to my children about people and their differences and not being RUDE!

  6. We still have a lot of growing up/catching up to do as a society Laksh. As you know, the society in which you and I come from, let alone inter-racial marriages and inter-racial adoptions, even “love marriages” are considered as an exception. So yes there will be tough questions, and awkward moments, but just know that each of these situations will only strengthen your convictions and your bonding as a family. Some things are best handled one day at a time.

    P.S: I loved the explanation you would given to the seven year old as an educator. It really is as simple as that.

  7. Perceptions will change very quickly , like how we watched Black and White TV as kids and now it is Color …

  8. Hi Lakshmi,

    Ultimately your kids are healthy, beautiful and love you now and will love you even more as they
    grow up. That’s all matters. That is what will ultimately bring peace and joy to you and your girls.

  9. I am very proud of you and what you have done, it takes a lot of courage to take the bold step of adopting let alone adopting children from a different background from our own. BUT WHY ? This type of prejudice should not exist because at the end of the day we are all human and go through the same motions of life. I think that in years to come you will see that they will thank you for all the teachings you have given them as they will be better humans which is what it is all about right. The comments, looks and all the rest of things will come and go, just keep on smiling 🙂 You are doing a great job.

  10. Aah…the same old acceptance thing. I know its easier said than done but I am so proud of you bhabhi…and so is everybody else at home. Doing something that “stands out” takes a lot of courage and I always support people who do what “they” think is right and not bowed down by the pressure of “society”.
    Such questions will undoubtedly come across your way, but as far as I know you, you are bold enough to reason out and stand up for what is true, with or without acceptance.
    Love 🙂

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