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Awkward Conversations?
Posted: 03 April 2010 11:20 PM   Ignore ]  
Total Posts:  112

In my blog I describe a conversation with a stranger which took me off guard.  I thought I knew exactly what I’d say in that situation but was too shocked to come up with anything witty.  Has this happened to you before?  Have you ever wished you could replay an adoption conversation with someone?

Posted: 06 April 2010 10:58 PM   Ignore ]  
Total Posts:  30

Hi Danielle,

I like that you have such a positive attitude about talking with strangers. As I’ve written on my blog, I find it a challenge sometimes even after many years practice. From your description of the lady you met, I don’t think she was actually someone who could be “educated” about adoption, no matter what you said…Last year at Ethiopian Heritage Camp we attended, Dr. Janet Helms of Boston College gave several workshops on racism. One of the things she said, which I found very freeing, was that you can’t possibly educate everyone, and it’s okay to let some “opportunities” go. You do need to protect your child and teach your child how to deal with others when it comes to race, adoption etc. I probably let more opportunities go than you do, so your approach is inspiring

Sharon Van Epps

Posted: 08 April 2010 08:26 PM   Ignore ]  
Total Posts:  5

I had my first awkward moment this past weekend at a party with the parent of one of the kids from my daughter’s preschool.  I mentioned that I hadn’t cut my daughter’s hair since she came to us a year ago (then I had to mention that she was adopted).  The mom said in surprise, “Oh so she isn’t yours?”  I said in a light-hearted way, “Well, she IS mine now”.  My husband said later that I should have said, ‘Yes, she is adopted and she is mine”. 

I accept that people don’t know better, but how do we avoid this embarrassing our daughter as she becomes more conscious of this issue?  Adoption isn’t anything to be hidden but I don’t want her to grow up being defined by this.  Avoiding disclosure would suggest to her that we are ashamed, which we aren’t.  Disclosure (which I am very open with now) might however prolong discussion and invite these awkward comments.  I mean, what if my daughter heard the woman say that DD isn’t mine?

Posted: 08 April 2010 09:27 PM   Ignore ]  
Total Posts:  112

My oldest has asked questions like, “I don’t understand why that person asked if you are my real mom?” or “Why do some people say stuff about my skin being darker than yours?” 
At first it would break my heart hearing him say those things b/c I though it would make him question our child-parent relationship.  Quickly though, I figured out that he was really questioning why other people didn’t “GET IT”.  He assumed all people understood adoption and understood that not all families need to look alike. 
So I had to educate him (and now my other children) that not everyone knows someone who is adopted and therefore they are confused about our family.  People aren’t being mean about us, they just don’t know what the right thing to say is.
Not long ago, when I did a classroom presentation for my Son he loved sharing info. with his friends about adoption.  It’s obvious to me that he feels sorry for those who don’t understand adoption.

So I guess I’m trying to say that maybe it would be ok for your DD to overhear some of those comments as long as she understands WHY they happen - that it has nothing to do with her or your love for her.

Posted: 20 May 2010 08:13 AM   Ignore ]  
Total Posts:  1

I think about that, too - “What if my DD overhears?”  We get comments all the time about our daughter, though it’s mostly about how beautiful she is.  While she is multi-racial, she has blue eyes like her father, and her skin tone is rather light right now.  The most common question we get it “Where’d she get her curly hair?”  I usually just laugh it off and say “I don’t know.”  After all, it’s not the business of a stranger in the grocery store to know that our DD is adopted.  At 21 months old, it’s not a big deal to her now, but it may be later.  I figure that, when she’s older, it’ll be her story to tell.  We’re not trying to hide the fact that she’s, because it’s nothing to be ashamed of.  And it invariably comes out in our conversations with people who know us for any length of time.  But we don’t feel the need to broadcast it to the world, either.

We have gotten the “You’re so great for doing this” and “She’s so lucky” comments, to which we simply reply that we’re the lucky ones.  I think the most startling comment I got was when our DD was about 6 months old.  I was talking with a woman in a clothing store while we were both standing in line.  Naturally, the conversation was about my daughter.  As she was walking off, the woman looked at DD, then looked at me, and said “She must look like her father.”  I stammered something about “She does have his eyes.”  But I really wanted to spout out some sarcastic comment like “I don’t know; I never got to see his face,” just to see her reaction. smile But I guess that these sort of comments are part of what we “sign up for” as adoptive parents.  It doesn’t necessarily make it easier, but it is part of the territory, unfortunately.

Posted: 06 June 2010 12:10 AM   Ignore ]  
Total Posts:  6

this is beautiful and perfect-thank you so much for sharing this…my fear is that i do not say the proper thing when we finally have our child at home with us…although we are not adopting internationally we are looking to foster adopt and older child so questions like woah, where did he come from and how much was the process are ?‘s i am frightened to answer wrong to make them understand.


Posted: 19 September 2010 12:05 AM   Ignore ]  
Total Posts:  1

As an adult Korean adoptee whose parents are both white and I have now married a white man with whom I have two biological boys that look just like me and we are in the process of adopting a little girl from Ethiopia I can tell you many things about this subject.  First of all, the people who have said that you can’t educate everyone is absolutely correct.  Not everyone is open to listening and not everyone will “get it”, they just won’t.  I do think as parents we tend to over analyze things though.  You cannot protect your children from other people’s ignorant comments but just prepare them that not everyone will accept them for who they are because of the color of their skin or ethnicity.  The general public is not mean they are just stupid.  When they ask things like “what are you” it is plain stupidity and does reflect more on them than on you.  (btw your children will prob get that a lot if they are not black or white)  Most comments that I heard (and still hear) are related to race and not really related to my adoption.  Now as a parent it is probably reversed.  My parents loved to tell complete strangers about the adoption because they were proud of it and of me and used it as an opportunity to show the world how wonderful adoption is.  Trying to “protect” your children from being treated as different is futile.  They are different.  You should treat them as you would any other member of your family but truth be told they will always be different, it’s okay!  Now as far as the “being saved” or “they’re so lucky” thing goes.  I do believe that my parents saved me.  I do think I am lucky.  I know that they worked very hard to adopt me and if they had not done so that I could have ended up aging out of an orphanage in South Korea living on the streets or worse.  I thank God for my parents and that they adopted me.  People never said that to me or if they did it was so insignificant that I don’t remember it.

My husband has been asked numerous times where he adopted our children from because they just look Korean and I am not with them, to which he has answered no they are mine.  Is that wrong?  According to most of the people on this subject it is.  They would tell him that he should say they are his biological children because when we get our Ethiopian daughter whe will be his also, but again it is different.  People have eyes they can see the difference, it’s there whether we like it or not.  We may love all of our children the same but the world does not work that way.  I certainly wish it did.  I know that when I am not paying attention and forgetting that i’m not just like everyone else (white) it never fails that my ethnicity is suddenly brought up.  My advice to adoptive parents is let your kids know that it is ok to talk about being adopted and they should not be ashamed of it.  Prepare them for the racism that is out there. It is very real and you may have never seen it before but that is much more hurtful than the topic of adoption.

sorry this post was a little all over the place.