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Handling Unexpected Commentary from Strangers
Posted: 15 March 2010 08:45 PM   Ignore ]  
Total Posts:  30
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In my recent blog post, The Enthusiastic Adoption Ambush, I talk about how unexpected comments from strangers still rattle me after many years of adoptive parenting. How do you handle strangers’ comments, especially praise for “saving a child?”

Sharon Van Epps

http://www.sharonvanepps.com

http://www.whateverthingsaretrue.com

Posted: 17 March 2010 01:10 AM   Ignore ]  
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We have only been home for one year now, but this is honestly one of the hardest thing for me to deal with.  I struggle to find the right words every single time - it just makes me incredibly uncomfortable.  I typically try to redirect the conversation to talk about what a wonderful asset/addition to our family our son is… but this never seems like enough. 

I’m interested to hear what others have to say about this one too.  Great post, Sharon!

Posted: 17 March 2010 03:21 AM   Ignore ]  
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Thanks for reading, Sarah! This is a challenge for us parents, but I am thankful that no one has ever spoken directly to my kids about how “lucky” they are. Eventually this will happen but so far we’ve avoided it…I heard one teenage adoptee put it very well. She said that when people tell her she’s lucky, she always wants to say, “If I’m so lucky, would you want to trade places with me?” That about sums it up…

Sharon Van Epps

http://www.sharonvanepps.com

http://www.whateverthingsaretrue.com

Posted: 18 March 2010 01:42 PM   Ignore ]  
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I have come to accept that most people are innocently ignorant of adoption, the process, and the emotional toll it can take on adoptive parents. I find that most people are genuinely curious and trying to be supportive, but they just don’t know the adoption lingo. We have been home for a little over a year now, and I can’t recall one time where I felt someone was being inappropriate when viewed in this context. When going through the adoption process, we did get our share of “why do you want to adopt internationally; what do you have against American babies?” This kind of talk bothered us a little more, but to us it really says a lot about the person asking the question. No one that would be so forward would ever understand our answer anyway. Most people we talked to were still under the impression that there are thousands of babies in the US living in orphanages! We have nothing against American babies BTW, only the flawed process of getting to them, in our opinion.

Anyway, we got to a place where we assume everyone is trying to be nice. We are happier as a result.

Jeff

http://meyouandmanu.blogspot.com

Posted: 23 March 2010 01:29 AM   Ignore ]  
Total Posts:  31
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We began our adoption journey by applying for China’s program. We were logged in, but as the time-frames to match began to lengthen (shortly after we were logged in), we decided to pursue a domestic adoption and did indeed bring our son home 10 months ago. We have not received the ‘lucky’ comment in the context of our son (or if we have I have put it out of my mind), but during the time that we were waiting with China and not yet pursuing domestic, we received the ‘what’s wrong with American babies’ comment that Jeff describes.

One particular time I remember the woman I was speaking to went so far as to say ‘I understand that people want to save children from other countries, but there are children here that need saving too’. I remember being shocked, even though we didn’t have a child yet and were not yet parents, that this woman honestly thought parents who choose to adopt internationally are motivated by a need to ‘save a child’. I politely explained that the VAST majority of people who adopt simply want to be parents.  But I’m not sure she really listened.

Posted: 23 March 2010 02:24 AM   Ignore ]  
Total Posts:  30
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Jeff and Felicia, thanks for reading. Jeff, I agree with you that many people are not that familiar with adoption and don’t know the “right” way to ask the questions in order to learn. I really don’t mind helping people understand who want to learn…but I have a really hard time when I get accosted by strangers, especially when I’m busily wrangling my three kids trying to get from point A to point B. Once as we were leaving the park a woman ran up and banged on my closed car window as I was pulling out of the parking space in order to start peppering me with questions. It’s hard. Sometimes I just want to be left alone.

Sharon Van Epps

http://www.sharonvanepps.com

http://www.whateverthingsaretrue.com

Posted: 23 March 2010 02:34 PM   Ignore ]  
Total Posts:  26
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Wow, that’s totally inappropriate!

I do think that I get less comments and questions than my wife. I’m not sure if it’s because I’m a man and people don’t feel as comfortable approaching me or what. She tells me of trips to the grocery when she can’t get down a single isle without someone commenting or asking about our son. No matter how nice the people are, that would get tiresome very quickly, so I understand where you’re coming from.

Posted: 23 March 2010 08:35 PM   Ignore ]  
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Regarding Jeff’s comment, I definitely receive more comments than my husband does.

Interestingly, I heard from an adult male Korean adoptee that he often has people come up to him at the mall food court or similar situations and want him to tell them about his culture!

Posted: 24 March 2010 05:31 AM   Ignore ]  
Total Posts:  1
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We are still waiting for a referral (from South Africa), but already we have heard countless times about how we are “saving a baby”, and we are “so good to be doing this.”  We just want to be a Mom and a Dad.
Sure, we probably would have adopted domestically, but here (in Canada), it’s harder than people think. We’ve been asked why we aren’t adopting from Canada…..but it’s none of their business, and we are so excited to be on the road we’re on. That’s all that matters.
We just want a baby…we’re not trying to save the world!

Posted: 24 March 2010 06:30 AM   Ignore ]  
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Who knew, S. A. Mom, that Canadians and Americans would ask prospective adoptive parents the same kinds of personal questions?

Sharon Van Epps

http://www.sharonvanepps.com

http://www.whateverthingsaretrue.com

Posted: 09 April 2010 06:13 PM   Ignore ]  
Total Posts:  5
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One of my co-workers just told me how lucky I am to have our “little angel”.  Funny, these are the words our extended family uses too.  I agreed of course!  Our children aren’t charity cases—they may have come from unfortunate circumstances but any adoptive parent would know that we are the ones who are privileged to be their parents.  I also resent the underlying assumptions on race/class implied by those who say how lucky the child is.

Posted: 13 April 2010 02:44 AM   Ignore ]  
Total Posts:  3
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We must be very fortunate. The entire time we were in process all the way though today (our son is 18 months), we have never met someone who asked awkward questions. We told so many people that we were going to adopt, friends, strangers, it didn’t matter to us how well we knew the person because we were so excited, and people were just as excited in return.
When people meet our son, they tell us that we are so lucky to have him. We just agree with them. He is amazing.

Posted: 08 September 2010 10:52 PM   Ignore ]  
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Yes, this is huge one with my family!  We are a family of six—parents caucasian and two guatemalan and two Rwandan children.  We get stopped everywhere and anywhere and people feel free to ask whatever pops into their head in front of eight pairs of little attentive ears:  “are they related?” “are they yours?”  “Do you run a daycare?”  “Is adoption really hard?”  “Where are they from?”

After several years of trying out various answers, none of which felt good, I have finally come up with one that really feels good & authentic and empowering.  I simply say, “Thank you for your interest.  Adoption is a really important subject for our family, and a very special topic.  And we like to choose when and where we discuss it.  And we don’t discuss it in (fill in the blank) supermarkets, public places, etc…

Then, because I have a blog, I volunteer my blog address and tell them they can go and read about it there to their heart’s content..

I am practicing doing it with LOVE, not resentment.  But it works either way!  Most importantly, it puts you back in control of your life and family.

Thanks for this post, great great topic.

http://www.elizabethhunter.wordpress.com