It never surprises me that some people are so unaware about how foster care and adoption works. It has led some people to ask me some pretty strange questions, which can often come out rude, and this never surprises me either, but sometimes these comments or questions catch me off guard. Today, I had one of those moments. A moment I will never forget because I handled it all wrong.
Today was a great day, we spent the morning playing at the park with our friends, taking a nap and when we awoke it was library day. It was the day that we were signing up for the summer reading program at our local library and watching the crazy balloon lady tell stories. As she waited in anticipation, she turned around to say, “mommy, do you think she will blow up a balloon crown for me?” As I replied, “I don’t know, you’ll just have to wait and see,” a woman standing nearby approached me, saying, “Is that your daughter? I bet you get this all of the time, but she looks NOTHING LIKE YOU. I mean really! I bet you get that all of the time.” Like I said, I’m never surprised when people say things like this, but sometimes it catches me off guard, and today it did. Maybe it was the way she said it. She was so loud and NOTHING LIKE YOU was so drawn out that I felt the whole room was staring at me. As a side note, they totally weren’t, the comment just made me so self-conscious that it felt that way.
Either way, I handled it all wrong. I wish sometimes I was one of those witty sarcastic people who could use sarcasm to chase people away and put them in their place. However, I am not that person. And so instead of blowing her off I explained, “well she’s adopted and so she probably doesn’t look like me.” I am annoyed by my response to this for one reason, my daughter’s little eyes and ears are always watching and listening. The last thing I want her to feel is that she doesn’t belong with us or that she’s different. I immediately recognized my error, but it was already out of my mouth, and so I went home and consulted my foster-to-adopt mamas, and my mom friends. I told them what had happened and asked them how I should have responded because it will happen again,and I was at a loss for words.
I received everything from the snarky mom response, to the kind mom response, to the response I realized would work for me. Now I know the next time somebody says something I will simply respond with, “I know, isn’t she beautiful.” I love it because it’s 5 little words without an explanation, because let’s be real, in this situation I owed her absolutely zero explanation. I also love these 5 little words because it’s a response I want my daughter’s little ears to hear. We live in a community that is surrounded by blended families, transracial families, adoptive families, gay and lesbian parental families, and while curiosity may get the better of people, it’s none of their business.
The way I see it as she begins school, kids will ask questions, and she will have to craft an answer as to why she doesn’t look like her mommy and daddy. It will be up to her as to what she wants to say, but I always want to leave her knowing that we are proud to be her parents! I want to hear words come out of her mouth that show she knows she’s accepted and loved even though she’s adopted, and she’s only going to learn that through watching my actions as her parent.
Now, I love my mom friends. They always have ways of making me feel better, helping me through tough situations, giving advice, and also giving me the other perspective. One of my mom friends pointed out that she may have been striking up the conversation because she assumed it was an adoption scenario and wanted more information and didn’t know how to go about asking. While that may have been the case, in this situation I don’t think it was, and we always need to be conscientious of the little eyes and ears that are always watching us. While she may have been curious, I think she should have been teaching her daughter to accept others no matter their stories.
As a side note: My favorite snarky mom response: which I would never say, but will always think of and laugh in the back of my mind the next time this occurs: “Yeah, I know… my husband says it was my slut phase.” Like I said, I want the little ears to hear something appropriate, but my mom friend said this just to help me feel better, and it did give me a good laugh.
Thanks for reading and happy parenting,
Also, if liked this article, you may also like this one: How This Foster Mama Answers Rude Comments and Questions