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'Is he yours?' and other things people ask about adoption

Erin Stewart and her son.
Erin Stewart and her son.
Erin Stewart

People ask a lot of questions when your child doesn’t exactly look like you. Some people look at my blond-haired, blue-eyed daughters and then at my darker-skinned, black-haired son and say things like, “Oh, my, he has a lot of dark hair, doesn’t he?”

Then, they wait for me to clarify or explain how this little pop of color came to be part of my family. Some people are a little less subtle and just come out and ask, “Does your husband have dark skin?” or “Is he adopted?”

I’m constantly amazed by the depth of questions people will ask a stranger while waiting in the fro-yo toppings line.

When we first brought our son home, I was so surprised by these questions that I felt the need to offer up an explanation to these well-meaning strangers. For some reason, I felt like I owed them the details, and so I found myself often telling them that my son is adopted, or I’d explain that his birth parents are of Mexican descent.

But recently, a lady asked a new form of the question that stopped me in my tracks. She told me how adorable he was and then, looking at my whitey-white husband and children, asked, “Is he yours?”

I quickly said, “Oh, he’s adopted.”

But as I thought about this incident later, I was so angry with myself. Why didn’t I just say yes?

Is he yours? Yes. Of course the answer is yes.

Why did I feel the need to explain that he wasn’t biologically mine? Does that make him any less mine?

No. It doesn’t. And after this incident, I’ve realized that it doesn’t do me, my daughters or my son any good to repeatedly hear, “He’s adopted,” every time someone compliments me on my new addition.

The fact that my blood does not run through his veins does not make him any less mine. But I am also keenly aware of the fact that my baby has another mother, and he is also hers.

I think this quote from Desha Wood, an adoption advocate and birth mother, sums it up: “He is mine in a way that he will never be hers, yet he is hers in a way he will never be mine, and so together, we are motherhood.”

We both claim him, just in different ways. That doesn’t make him less mine or less hers. It makes him ours.

That fact is filled with a certain sadness, but also a beautiful truth: This little baby has two women who love him, claim him and call him “mine.”

So, next time someone asks me, “Is he yours?” I won’t hesitate: Yes, he is mine. Mine to raise. Mine to love.

He is my 2 a.m. wake-up call. My good-morning giggles. My constant sidekick and bedtime snuggle partner. He is mine to hold, mine to worry about, mine to watch grow into a man.

And perhaps more importantly — I am his. I am the arms that hold him. I am his diaper changer and the answer to his midnight cry. He may not have my blood or my blue eyes, but he has my heart.

We belong to each other now, and so the answer to the question, “Is he yours?” is yes. A thousand times yes. He is mine. And I am his — forever.