“Is that your Daughter?”

My younger brother and sister are both adopted from Vietnam and the rest of my family is your typical Scandanavian/European US citizens. This of course has lead to many a strange situation when people are trying to put two and two together. The crowning jewel was when our family was in Disney World a year after they were adopted. My mother was with my little sister floating around the pool. My sister was doing a typical 5 year old thing of swimming around and then coming up to our mom and talking to her. There was a Brazilian man nearby–obviously a wealthy one–that kept staring at our mom and my sister and then he swam up to where she was and had this following conversation:Man: “Is that your Daughter?”Mom: “Yes, she’s my daughter.”

Man: “No she’s not.  She couldn’t possibly be your daughter.”

Mom: “Well, she is.  My husband and I adopted her and her brother from Vietnam.”

Man: “Do you have your own children?”

Mom: “If you mean, do I have biological children, then yes.  I have a son and a daughter.”

Man: “Well, obviously you love them more than your adopted children.”

Mom: “No.  We love all of our children equally.”

Man: “No you don’t.  You couldn’t possibly love these adopted kids as much as you love your own children.”

Mom: “Well, my husband and I do, and you can’t tell us what we are and are not capable of.  All four of them are our children and we love them all equally.”

Man: “Huh.  If we were in my country the people would rather see those kinds of children die on the streets then take them in.”

Mom: “Well, in this country many people are willing to adopt and love a child because they want to, and I love all of my children.”

The man went away after that and soon after our mom took my sister and went back to the room.

 

Megan is a white middle school teacher, originally from Oregon, but now living in China. Many thanks to her for submitting this story.

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  • Soterapolitana

    Megan–I’m sure this is was uncomfortable for your Mom–but as a Brazilian, I urge you not to take the man’s words at face value. While children of minority races face disadvantages in Brazil at being adopted, there are many multiracial families and informal AND formal adoptions across racial lines. In fact, given that “fictive kin” are so common in Brazilian society (and I’m a social scientist who studies my country, so I do know what i’m talking about) I’m shocked at how vehemently he contested your mom’s claim to motherhood. I’m in no way an apologist for Brazil–we have deep-rooted racial issues and, it’s true, a problem with street children that is common in developing nations–but he does not represent traditional Brazilian mores. A more typical Brazilian reaction would have been for someone to comment on your mom’s “bravery” at adopting outside your race. The other thing is that as a country where so many of our own children lack a stable home (and yet with very strict adoption laws aimed at reducing trafficking in baby markets), it is odd for most Brazilians to consider that someone would adopt a child from another country. That’s it–I just felt I had to weigh in, because he seems like just an insensitive jerk. Plenty of those in Brazil, unfortunately–and the wealthier, it seems, the ruder…

  • Soterapolitana

    Megan–I’m sure this is was uncomfortable for your Mom–but as a Brazilian, I urge you not to take the man’s words at face value. While children of minority races face disadvantages in Brazil at being adopted, there are many multiracial families and informal AND formal adoptions across racial lines. In fact, given that “fictive kin” are so common in Brazilian society (and I’m a social scientist who studies my country, so I do know what i’m talking about) I’m shocked at how vehemently he contested your mom’s claim to motherhood. I’m in no way an apologist for Brazil–we have deep-rooted racial issues and, it’s true, a problem with street children that is common in developing nations–but he does not represent traditional Brazilian mores. A more typical Brazilian reaction would have been for someone to comment on your mom’s “bravery” at adopting outside your race. The other thing is that as a country where so many of our own children lack a stable home (and yet with very strict adoption laws aimed at reducing trafficking in baby markets), it is odd for most Brazilians to consider that someone would adopt a child from another country. That’s it–I just felt I had to weigh in, because he seems like just an insensitive jerk. Plenty of those in Brazil, unfortunately–and the wealthier, it seems, the ruder…