Monday, October 24, 2011

story-telling, story-keeping: vacation version

We just returned from an amazing week in Maui (thanks Mom & Dad!) and we're all tan, tired, and thankful. I rarely feel this way toward the end of a vacation, but I honestly could have happily stayed another week or two. The kids were in heaven, the condo was great, the weather was perfect... couldn't have asked for more.

One interesting thing about this trip was the attention Z attracted wherever we went. I don't feel like we get much notice at home - maybe an occasional second glance, but rarely any comments or extra attention from strangers. In fact, that has been one of the biggest surprises about adding Z to the family - after our adoption training I was all prepared to deal with "conspicuousness" but it just hasn't been an issue thus far. However, on this trip it was almost constant. People stared. People walked by, then turned around and stared. People touched his hair without asking (doesn't bug me that much, but still a little strange). People made comments. People asked questions. Most, if not all, were very kind and polite. One older gentleman even told me he was impressed by how I handled a discipline situation at the pool, and that he was going to call his daughter and tell her about it (I feel a bit sorry for her). I don't know if it is the demographic of a tourist-filled island, or if people act differently when they're on vacation, or if vacation activities like lounging around the beach and pool just invite more conversation, but it was a marked difference from what we experience at home (thank goodness).

Even though I am a naturally nosy person (eavesdropping is one of my favorite pastimes vices), I still don't quite understand how people can be so comfortable and nonchalant when asking such personal questions about a child's history. As I have shared before, we have chosen to keep the details of Z's story for him. As he grows, we will do our best to help him understand his story and we'll try to teach him how to share it wisely at his own discretion. Therefore, when a total stranger on the beach asks me, "So, what's his story? What happened to him?", I give them my standard line: There are many unfortunate circumstances that can lead to a child needing to be adopted, but we have chosen to keep Z's specific story just for him.

This works for now, but I do wonder how things will change when he is old enough to be an active part of the conversation. Will people be more reticent to ask such personal questions in front of an older child? I'm not counting on it. Part of me would love to say at that point, "Well, he's standing right here, so why don't you ask him if he'd like to talk to you about it?" Then again, I'm not sure I want to sic people on him like that. Thankfully, we haven't dealt with this much in our day-to-day life, but the vacation experience reminded me that it is something that will continue to resurface as different circumstances arise.

To those who are further down the road, I'd love to hear how you have dealt with this. Did the questions change as your child got older? Did you handle questions differently at different stages of your child's development? How have you taught your child to answer (or not answer) questions about their past?

*If you are reading this and you have been on the receiving end of my 'standard line'... it's OK! You are absolved. Now go, and sin no more. ;)

1 comment:

  1. Hi there,
    I actually noticed you guys, as I work with your sister-in-law so have seen your blog before--somehow we ended up on essentially the same vacay (our hotel was next to yours)--how totally weird is that? Your pictures make me want to go back! Glad you guys had a great time--it was the perfect place to relax.