What exactly makes someone your sibling? Is sharing a womb required? Shouldn't it be about growing up in the same household? I am often asked (usually by the older generation) if my boys are brothers. I'm sure that what they want to know is if they were born from the same woman. But they never come out and ask that, and the answer to their direct question is yes. They are brothers. They live in the same household, have the same mother and father and torture each other as only brothers can. Yesterday at the grocery store an elderly man started following me around the produce section, waving at my boys who were happily driving the car at the front of our cart. As I was checking out the potatoes he began talking to them, encouraging them to honk their steering wheel horns and asking them how old they were. Then he looked at me and said, "Are they brothers?" "Yes." I replied simply. Because they are. Moments later his wife appeared and asked the very same question. "Oh how nice" was her response. To someone paying attention, my children do not look like each other AT ALL. They have completely different skin tones, facial features and body types. But that is not the point. Why should their biological origin matter to strangers? And if they really want to know, these strangers should just come out and ask. If someone said, "Do they share the same birth parents?" then I would respond with a polite no. But older folks don't talk that way. I know that is what they want to know, but unless the question is made obvious I don't respond with specifics.
This past weekend we were approached by an older couple while at lunch (once again it was the man who came over to the table first & I often wonder in the back of my mind if that is because these men served in Korea - I once had a guy at the library start talking to my son in Korean). The man said that our boys were very cute and observed that they do not look alike. I responded that they were not biologically related. He said, "Oh I know." Which left me a little perplexed. My husband thought perhaps the man meant to point out that our sons do not look like us, but I clearly heard him say, "They do not look alike" not, "They do not look like you". Once again the wife joined in on the cooing and I was left with another thought. Does the general population of parents have strangers regularly approach them, commenting on the cuteness of their children and asking mildly invasive questions? Or is this unique to those with racially diverse families? I always try to be polite and educate those who seek to know more about adoption. Both of my children love attention and will generally put on a show for strangers, but I wonder if it will bother them some day. Knowing Paul, I imagine when people ask him if John is his brother he will respond with a resounding Yes. No, I mean is he your brother? YES! He is the one who steals my toys, divides mom's attention and worships me. He drives me crazy but I love him fiercely. He is my BROTHER.