We boarded the plane in Ethiopia to bring our new 7-month-old son home. Unfortunately for us, the seats were so full that my husband and I couldn’t sit together. But luckily, I scored a seat with a bassinet in front of me, and my husband was just two rows behind us.

I settled in for a long flight with a  baby, and I noticed the flight attendant staring at us. She cocked her head sideways and smiled. “Awww….he’s SO CUTE. You are JUST. LIKE. Angelina Jolie! I’ve always wanted an African baby so I could be like her. You are so lucky!”

I think I threw up a little bit in my mouth. Despite the obvious physical differences between us (I mean, c’mon, she’s not even blonde), I certainly didn’t adopt to be trendy or  like some Hollywood star.

I get it.

Our family looks different from  most. We have eight children, five of whom came to our family through adoption. Our number counts ten, and the shades of our skin vary. We don’t look like everyone else, and it draws attention. We are used to people glancing our way when we are all together, and most people are kind and just curious. But some of the comments and questions we’ve received in the 7 years since we’ve adopted still surprise me. No one could have prepared me for this.

I understand people wondering about our family. I do. I also understand that most questioners mean no harm.

But my children can hear you.

“Where are they from?

“Are you their mom?”

“How much did they cost? Isn’t that expensive??”

“Do you know there are kids in America that need homes?”

“You must really like kids.”

“Are they siblings? You know what I mean…are they REALLY siblings?”

“Do you have your own kids?”

“Aren’t you worried about how they’ll turn out? I mean, you don’t really know anything about their families.”

Sweet friends, I am passionate about adoption. I love to chat with people, and I am happy to answer questions. But please don’t talk about my children as if they aren’t there. Please don’t make assumptions, push for more information, or assume that their story is information for all to hear. One day I had a woman ask my girls what happened to their “real” family, and if they were glad to have a new family. This is hurtful. Our children’s stories are sacred, and they are theirs to share. Strangers do not have the right to put them on the spot and expect them to ask personal questions. They have the right to share as little or as much of them as they want.

We are shepherding our children’s hearts to know that they are wanted and loved. To know that adoption is how God put our family together and that it’s a special part of our story. They are not second choice, second best, or a spectacle to be discussed. We are not the circus (although it may occasionally feel like it).

To answer your questions…our children were born in the beautiful country of Ethiopia, but more importantly in my heart. I am their mom, and they were worth it at any cost. There are children all over the world who need homes, and we pray they all find families to love them. I do like kids, but most of all I want to love them like Jesus does. They are real siblings, I am their real mom, my husband is their real dad, and we are their real family. I know that these precious babies were created in God’s image, and I can’t wait to see His plans for them.

Kathy Garrison

Kathy is a wife to Nathan, and a momma to eight children both by birth and adoption. She's passionate about living a life full of purpose and cares about the things close to God’s heart. She's an advocate for orphaned & vulnerable children, adoption, a justice-seeker, and Christ follower who longs to make a difference. Kathy values her friends, but also her time alone. She loves deep conversation, meaningful connection, honesty in relationship, Mexican food, and a great cup of coffee. When she's not chasing children, she does some public speaking and writes about faith, family, adoption, and everyday life at http://www.kathygarrison.com/