Stupid Things People Don’t Say

16 Apr

I have been wanting to write about all the stupid things people don’t say for quite some time now. And over the past couple of weeks, that post has been coming together in my mind – how I started reading books and blogs before our adoption ever became a reality, and one of the most discussed themes was the ignorant comments frequently directed at adoptive parents.

“What happened to his real mom?”

“How much did your baby cost?”

“Your child is so lucky.”

I was prepared to respond – and, truth be told, was actually looking forward to it!

But alas and alack, I guess my friends and family just aren’t that stupid. They already know that I, as the mom, am actually real. Beyond that mind-blowing factoid, they have been very protective of our privacy when asking about my sons’ biological moms. Sigh.

Regarding adoption-related expenses, our story is different from most people’s. Because we were living in Ethiopia at the time and we were legally excused from using an international adoption agency, the whole process to adopt both our boys ended up costing us less than $1000. That’s not private information. It’s more about our cultural experience than it is about our children. And it’s a cool story, so I’m happy to discuss it. But nobody ever asks. Sigh.

It seems like it would be a lot of fun to set some people straight on the whole luck aspect. If you think it through logically for a nano-second, you would have to conclude that any child in the position of needing to be adopted has been through trauma of some kind. It is downright evil to label them lucky for that. I believe that God brings good out of awful circumstances, and adoption is a beautiful example of that. But again, luck diminishes the profound blessing that adoption is – for the adoptee and the adopter. Sigh.

I was very excited to be on the receiving end of The World’s Stupidest Question just a couple weeks after our adoption was finalized. I was holding our two-month-old son and someone asked me, “Does he speak English?”

Wow. I did not see that one coming. “Uhh…not yet,” I answered, wide-eyed.

But that was it. All those books and blogs…all my prepared answers…and nothing.

Over five years have gone by and I have waited and waited. In a final act of putting my hopes to rest, I started to compose this blog post.

And then – today. Today it happened.

I was grocery shopping with my now five-year-old Ethiopian son. An older woman approached me in the baking aisle and opened with this awesome line: “I have mixed-race grandchildren.”

Okay then!

She followed me all around the store. My son even asked me why she kept following us (quietly, thank the Lord! It’s the first time he’s ever said anything quietly. There’s the silver lining to his being home sick today and not having much of a voice.)

She asked me, “Is he yours – ?“ (which I interrupted by answering, “Yes”) “- or is he adopted?” (which I also answered, “Yes.”)

Then she got in my son’s face and asked him, “Where are you from?”

Bless his sweet little soul, he told her, “Canada.” And then when I asked him if he could say where he was born, we told her Ethiopia.

She told me about a bookstore in Toronto that has lots of great books about mixed-race children and they even have people of different races on their staff!

Merciful heavens.

At the check-out (yes, she happened to arrive in the same line as me), she wished me well in my parenting journey and cautioned me that it is hard sometimes. I thanked her and assured her that I was well aware of the difficulties. Teensy-weensy bit of an understatement, that!

I am pleased to report that I did not launch into a sarcastic tirade at any point. Grace won out, as it should. Although I sincerely wish I had responded to her introductory comment (“I have mixed-race grandchildren”) with “Congratulations. I hope I will, too, someday.”


Posted by on April 16, 2013 in Adoption, Family, Humour, parenting


3 responses to “Stupid Things People Don’t Say

  1. Sue

    April 16, 2013 at 5:15 PM

    Oh wow. I don’t even know how to respond. Praise God that grace won out Anita.
    God Bless you, you very real Mom!

  2. hiskidcare

    April 21, 2013 at 1:03 AM

    Having many friends who have adopted, and hoping to do so ourselves someday, I have tried really hard to not say those kind of stupid things. I figured you’d love this story…
    We were at a friend’s house with a few families from their small group. I saw my 7 yr old son playing with one lady’s 2 boys (or who I thought were her boys). I knew she had adopted one of her kids but the 2 boys looked strikingly similar. I commented how fun that despite different DNA the boys really looked alike. Later as she was leaving with her son and a little boy of a very different ethnicity I was horrified to realize the 2 boys I’d seen earlier weren’t brothers. She had just smiled and nodded at the time. I was so embarrassed as I didn’t even realize which kids were hers so I explained myself to her. I mean, if I had been talking about her biological and adopted boys looking alike it would have been STU-PID! But I was not even meaning to try to just make nice talk. I really thought the 2 were brothers and thought how cool that God had them look so similar! So much for my attempts 🙂 I still feel so dorky thinking about it!

    • Anita Neuman

      April 21, 2013 at 8:35 AM

      Great story! An easy mistake, though. 🙂


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