"Something there is, that doesn't love a wall, that sends the frozen groundswell under it and makes gaps even two can pass abreast..." Robert Frost
Nat is still too little for playground baby swings, but we've discovered that she loves to swing on Mama Shannon's lap. Her eyes get wide and her mouth falls open when she feels herself swooping through space. She loves it so much, she cries and fusses when we stop.
Yesterday we were swinging at the local park when a black man with two of his own little boys hollared out "boy or girl?" I was just slowing to stop, and I told him Nat was a girl. After the other preliminaries (age, name, first child, etc. and the same about his kids), he said "so, she looks like her daddy, huh?" and I realized why it was he had felt safe speaking to me in the first place. He thought my partner was a black man. "Oh, I don't know," I said, "she's adopted. But she does look a lot like her mother, I know that."
Thus commenced a long chat over the picnic table about adoption, open adoption, race, and sexuality. He asked if I was married. "I'm married to another woman" I told him. He asked all about the laws in our state regarding same-sex adoptions and all the things that came up in the media in a recent gay marriage hoo-ha. (One town over, they've just started a benefits-less domestic partner registration.) He was very polite and cautious, prefacing his questions with "if this is too personal..." and asking if "lesbian" is a polite term to use. He has a lesbian co-worker and he wanted my opinions on some of the things she'd told him about being gay.
After all this, he told me quite a few things about himself. In fact, they were too private to mention here, but suffice it to say that he shared as much of his own business as he asked of mine.
And this is just the kind of conversation I'm talking about when I say I prefer people to ask questions when they're curious about our interracial family. It was a great opportunity to meet a neighbor and his kids (not so far in age from Nat), to spread the gospel of open adoption and put down the rumors about its difficulties, and, essentially, put a teensy chink in one of the walls that people live behind in a world full of fear and mutual mistrust.
It didn't feel "nosy" and it didn't feel disrespectful or doubtful of my motherhood status. It was just human curiosity and it felt really good to meet a neighbor and have a real conversation about real life.