I took the kids to the park the other day, and I was seated just close enough to the play structure that I could faintly overhear a conversation that occurred between Kembe and several older kids. At first, I had a hard time understanding what was being said, but something about Kembe’s posture caught my attention. Typically, he’s a relatively cocky over-confident kid with a lot of swagger., even around older kids. But in this setting he looked . . . almost cornered. He seemed intimidated and a bit helpless. As I strained to hear, I though I heard one of the kids saying, “That is NOT your real mom.” I had an immediate pit in my stomach, and tried to check myself. Surely they are not ganging up on him about adoption, I thought. I stood up and started walking casually towards them, so that I could hear the conversation and intervene if needed. Sure enough, this is what I heard the four other children saying to Kembe:
“That is not your real mom”
“Yeah, where is your REAL mom?”
“So you are adopted”?”
“You HAVE to be adopted”
“No way that is your mom”
“What happened to your real parents?”
I don’t think these kids were trying to be cruel. But the way that they were surrounding him, asking questions and refusing to accept his answer as he repeatedly pointed to me as his mom, made the situation feel confrontational. Kembe looked embarrassed and I decided to intervene. I approached them and tried, in my most friendly and casual voice, to introduce myself and then asked if they had some questions I could help with.
“We were just wondering what happened to his real parents, ” one of the kids asked. I told them that this was a personal question – that it was up to him if he wanted to share but that it might not be polite to ask. They seemed to get that. We talked a bit more, and the kids were all very nice, suddenly seeming to take quite a friendly interest in our family. The only girl in the group, who I’d guess was about eleven, starting gushing about how great it was that I adopted him.
Check out more of Kristen’s story here!