Friday, August 27, 2010

are they sisters?

For the first two years of being an adoptive family,
I am happy to say that we did
not receive any stupid, rude, or ridiculous questions about
our sweet little mix-raced family.

Two glorious years.

No doubt, the Lord knew I wasn't quite ready to handle
such questions.

But recently,
the inquiries and comments have started trickling in.

I truly try not to carry around a defensive attitude.
I hate that.
And I don't ever want to sound harsh with my reactions.

"Let your conversation be always full of grace,
and seasoned with salt,
so that you may know how to answer everyone."

Colossians 4:6

But seriously.

Do people not think?

Do I have a sign on my forehead saying:

"Please, feel free to say whatever you want in front of
my precious adopted girls."

The most common question as of late is
"Are they sisters?"


Is what I always say.

Macy giggles at this.

If they press the issue, as if it's their right to figure out
our family dynamic,
I will sometimes say,
"They aren't biological but they are, very much, SISTERS."

And what about people who comment on the fact that
we should be adopting domestically, not internationally?

As if there is something Biblical about saving American children
over any others in the world?

Makes me crazy.


To me that's like saying of my biological children,
"Why did you give birth to those kids?"


Let's see....because they are who God gave us.


Adoption is no different.

So, to all of you who have no doubt dealt with these things
also...what the heck to you say?

Do you have neat and tidy answers?

Do tell.


Jennifer O'Cain said...

Great idea! I too have been spared most comments but the one I most frequently get is the why didn't you adopt domestically one. I hate it because why does it matter. All I really say is that we felt God call us to China but really most people cannot even comprehend that. Someone once told me I should sweetly say, "why have you"? But I haven't said that, yet.

I can't wait to see the responses for this, I would love a great arsenal.

Cristy said...

I get the "are they sister?" ALL.THE. TIME.

I just answer, "Yes, of course they are"

I usually get the "How lucky for them they have their sister" comment. I ignore that one ;)

I have LOTS of mean spirited, rude and ignorant comments, but rarely have heard the "Why China" in front of my girls. I think I would smile and say, "Because that is where God had our girls waiting for us.."

I have gotten very angry at times, but I do try to represent Christ in each situation.

My favorite is, "are they twins?" We get that every time we are out. Can't wait until we HAVE the twins home, and the shocked looks at 2 sets of "twins"


Madeleine said...

Oh dear Woman. THANK GOD you were not a born & raised Jersey Girl.

You would be dangerous. LOL.

Probably in all the wrong ways. :)

I was talking to my nephew last night about racism. But it really applies to anything. Basically we decided that ignorant people are pathetic, but forgivable, but stupid people are dangerous idiots. And I don't use that word lightly.

So, do you know how many hispanics adopt a chinese girl? I can count them on one hand. One finger actually. lol. Do you know how many hispanics live around here and ask me why I didn't adopt from any one of our native countries?

Basically, I told them " I didn't adopt from there because this is my daughter. duh." Yes I include the duh.

My future looks interesting. ;P

And remember, sometimes you just have to walk away from ignorance. They can't help it.

And how much would I LOVE to talk to someone who knows EXACTLY where I am??? To help me up off my face. Again.

Stacy said...

You should see the looks I get with a blond, Hispanic and Chinese daughters. This is not really a nice reply but it was late one day and I was really worn out, I told them that I was really a busy woman at one time and couldn't decide what race of man I really liked. Needless to say there was no response to that! LOL

connie said...

Oh, Friend, we've heard it ALL! I must say that CJ is much more gracious than I in responding - mostly ;-) But his typical response to the 'why china; why not here?' question is:
He draws a circle representing the Earth and says, 'now imagine you are God, looking at Your creation. Do you love the children of Asia, Africa, North America.... any differently?'
'Nuf said! Love that man!

connie said...

Oh, and how I would someday love to say to all the nay-sayers, "Tell me about your adoption experience," since they DON'T have one. But I do ask the Lord to guard my naughty tongue!

Lisa said...

I say "Yes. Why do you ask?" By turning the question around on the person asking, you can halt an ignorant person in their tracks. On the other hand, you can also start a lovely conversation with someone who may be truly well-meaning and curious.

I did have one unpleasant experience with an ignorant woman and my then-2-year-old daughter. My daughter was getting her hair cut and there was a woman in the next chair who told me about "someone she knew" (isn't that always the way the conversation starts?) who had "returned" two kids she adopted because the kids were "just horrible." I responded by saying, "In our family adoption is forever." And she said "well, yes, but these kids were just horrible." Thankfully the haircut was over by then and we left.

In the car on the way home I told my daughter how the lady had said some things that she shouldn't have, and that there was nothing my daughter could ever do that would make me stop being her mommy. Like I said, my daughter was only 2 and I don't know if she comprehended a word of what was said, but I thought it was important to address it.

Good luck!

Karin said...

I get this ALL THE TIME!! "Are any of them brothers and sisters?" I seriously don't think it occurs to them that it might be offensive--they don't mean it that way. And I don't necessarily think they are ignorant..just haven't been exposed to adoption and our version of political correctness. :) If it is someone in a store that I will never see again, I just say, "yes." If it is someone at church or school that I will see often, I say, "Not biolgically--but they are now." Not too profound but it works and our kids haven't seemed too upset by any of it. Not yet, anyway. :)

Shonni said...

Here’s one nice thing about having so many children...people are so shocked by the shear number of the children, that they are to dumb struck and can only ask if they are all ours. I’m sure all those other stupid questions come to their minds....later, when I have left! LOL

Tony and Rett said...

I turn to the girls (who are biological but it would work with yours too) and ask, "Well, are you sisters?" Let them answer! I bet they say, "YES!!!!!!" Once the person figures out, "OH, they understand my nosey, rude, and unhelpful questions..." they may keep their mouths closed!

My favorite? "Are they twins?" DUH! And then, "How far apart were they?" I'm like, seriously people? I didn't give birth to them, how would I know? But, like you, I try to be polite. I always say, "Two minutes." *shrugs* Maybe they WERE two minutes apart? And it always appeases them.

Chris said...

I LOVE the answers...just wait till you bring their brother home...that opens a whole raft of questions!
I usually use Karin's answer...or "they weren't, but they are now." That usually brings "they look so much alike." I let it go...

a few times I have told people "they have different fathers." That gives them something to think about :^)

The Kings said...

I am the worst for coming up with quick, good answers. These silly comments always catch me so off guard. The one that makes me absolutely hot is "How many of your children are your own?"
"Ummm, Let's see....ALL of them!"
I too always want to be gracious, but when people ask me these kinds of questions right in front of my children the mother bear in me rises up pretty quick. GRRR!

Marie-Claude said...

I get it quite often. It comes and goes.

When I'm with the girls (mix of bio and adopted) usually Catherine 12.5 yo takes charge.. she can't stand those questions. She's a bio sister and was with us in China, it is so close to her heart. She simply answers, like Lisa ''matter of factly'' yes we are sisters forever, ''why do you ask''; it usually ends the questionning. At the question or the comment about the cost (yes we get those too) again Catherine once jumped in (at that time she was about 8.5 yo. ''It cost a lot of money because we are a long time in the plane and gas is very expensive!'' I laughed so much, I simply gave her a great big hug, told her I loved her and wished the nosy inquirring people a ''good day'...with a big great smile.

Basically, we try to educate about adoption if we see the people are polite and ask some intellgent questions. If not, I simply do not bother and wish them a great day... and off I go with my daughters. Life is beautiful.


Holly said...

Well, since Elaina is not home yet, Josiah is our only Asian child along with our 2 bios. What I have gotten a LOT is "Obviously THEY are yours (pointing to Anthony and Halle) but where did you get him?" And no I am not even kidding.
Along with "How much did he cost?" to which I ALWAYS respond "They ARE ALL MINE" (sometimes if I am feeling gracious followed by "Josiah joined our family through adoption" and "He didn't cost a thing- He's priceless! It is illegal to buy children. However, we did incur legal expenses for his adoption process."
Also I have gotten "So, was his Dad Chinese or something?" (apprently insinuating that they believe Josiah to be biracial and that I had a former partner who was of Chinese heritage) to which I ALWAYS respond, "Yeah, I'm pretty sure he was" and let them think what they will. Ridiculous!!! I could go on and on. I have written about such things too!

Janet and Kevin said...

We get "Are they brothers?" all the time. I at first answer, "Yes, forever!" Then they almost always press for more. That question bothers me, but the one that bothers me more is, "Are they twins?"

Philip and Elijah do happen to have both been born in China. But really - they look NOTHING alike! I just answer, "No" to that one. Sometimes people who have just asked that question will look at them again and comment on their own that they don't look like twins.

When people comment about us adopting from China and not from the US, which happens A LOT, I just say, "We adopted from China because that is where our children were!

There aren't any good answers all of the time, but these are just some I use. Sometimes I am very patient and want to help that person understand. Yet at other times, the quetions really bother me and I am not so patient!! I need to remember the Bible verse you wrote in this post.

Janet and gang

Tesseraemum said...

Love the answers! We are just beginning the process and I need good answers for family and friends who ask why not domestic. We have prayed about this and feel called but that doesn't seem to be a good enough answer.
Also! A friend who is bi-racial and married to a 1/2 south american guy has 3 kids... a set of twins one black, one latin and a blonde blue eyed son. We have the best time when we are out! She has a good time with it because she and her sister heard it all as kids. Their mom was THE BLONDEST Dutch woman you could imagine! Being the fair skinned friend I loved going out with just them and their mom! You can imagine the looks and questions! Sheri

Tesseraemum said...

Ok, so, the point of the friend story is to say that your kids will probably handle the questions easier and have more fun with their differences when they become parents than most families do!! My kids have to defend their dizz brained mother!-) Sheri

julie said...

Although we are still waiting for our litle Asian Princess-we have still encountered the-"why would you adopt from China when there are kids in the U.S.?" drives me nuts.

We are already parents to 2 great bio-daughters ages 21 and 13. Our 21 year old is a hair stylist and recently had a bad experience with a client about the adoption issue. The older lady asked my daughter if she had any siblings-my daughter responded "Yes, I have a 13 year old sister and I will soon have a little sister from China, my parents are adopting." Well, I guess this woman thought it was her place to inform my daughter of the mistake we and many other families were making by adopting from China-she continued on and on, even telling my daughter that in 50 years there will be more Chinese people in the U.S. than Americans. My daughter managed to hold her tounge, although, I don't know how she did. But, when she called and told me about it-she said "how stupid was that woman for talking like that when I had SHARP scissors inches from her head"-That's my girl!

Kathy said...

I get asked the question are they sisters
all the time. When I say yes. I have had a
few people say, "No, I mean are they real
sisters?" I will then say."Not biological,
but very real."
I have been told there are lots of children in America
who need families. My reply is, "How many have you adopted?"
Recently someone asked,"Are you going to adopt
another one of them?" I just said, Excuse Me!?!
Needless to say that (friendship?) has ended.

Sam-Is-Mad said...

It isn't just limited to adoptive families. My friend is half Chinese, and her mum is white. She used to have people stop her mum on the street and threaten to phone the police for kidnapping. Seriously.

And very recently this same friend and I were talking to another bi-racial family, and when they left a nearby lady asked us if they were "her children". We replied yes. "They don't look much like her," was the next comment. Their father is Chinese. The lady thought that was about the strangest thing in the world.

What can I say? There are lots of rude people in the world.

Lynsay said...

Since I have never been in the states with my 9 Chinese babies I have not been exposed to these particularly stupid questions, BUT I have been exposed to my fair share. Here and there.

I used to get very mad, until I started to see how much people are just ignorant of adoption, truly ignorant. Both Christians and non-believers alike.

That realization is what eventually led us to the other side of the world anyway, so I'm thankful, I guess, for dumb questions.

(I used to walk around with a 1 month old and a 7 month old in a double stroller, do you KNOW how many people would ask if they were twins???) EVERYONE.

And why? Because the concept of adoption, the fact that they could be adopted, was completely foreign to them.

The day is coming when my family, legally, will be racially mixed, Yippee, and I can't wait, every single one coming by ADOPTION!

And if you don't like it, you can just go pick your nose somewhere, oohh, that would be fun to tell someone. :)

Holly said...

I remember once years ago before I was even married, I was talking to Kevin Max of DC Talk's dad, Max. (He was a friend of mine...long story.) Anyway, I had no idea Kevin and his brother were adopted, so when I found out that day, I said something like, "No way! I didn't know that. Do his real parents know who he is now?!" Max said, "his WHO?" I repeated in total innocence thinking he hadn't heard me, "his real parents." He asked me again, "his WHO?" Again, (I was dense) "His real parents." Max said, "We are his real parents." Then I got it. Honestly I knew zero about adoption, but I did know that when someone is adopted his new parents are his real parents. But I wasn't up on the correct terminology, so I made a dumb mistake. So I understand when people make dumb mistakes that they really don't mean to be rude. It doesn't bother me. If I had two Chinese girls and someone asked if they were sisters, I would know what they meant, and I would just say not biological. The person knows that they are sisters now. They are just curious if they are bio sisters. When someone asks why China, not here, (and I have had that question) I just answer honestly why I picked China. I'm sure we all have an answer even if it's simply that God led us that way. I like answering people's questions. I would only be annoyed if they were honesly being rude.

Cari said...

I love both of Connie's comments!
I have had "are they sisters?", "why haven't you adopted from the US?", "what's their story?" even strange looks when I have all my kids together with just me...I think others are wondering "who the baby daddy is?" :) My answers vary from short to long depending on my mood or time, but I always try to keep a positive tone if any of the questions are asked in front of any of my children. Basically comes down to that God is forming our family and He told us to adopt this specific child. If they don't like that answer, then they can go argue it with God.

Debby said...

I get the "Are they sisters" all the time. I usually answer yes, but if I'm not careful, I get a full dose of questions on how I managed to adopt real sisters from China & then I have to back up to explaining that the girls are not bio sisters. I love the answer above that they have different think I'll use that soon.

The question I get more often these days is about Lindsi. She is deaf, but has worked & continues to work really hard to be able to function in a hearing world. She uses a cochlear implant very well. I can not tell you how many people in the last year have commented on her deafness as being cured. Cured??? ReallY?? I know they think they are being complimentary(??) about her speaking ability, but it really demeans the amount of effort it costs her daily to function in a hearing world..or that they even think she needed to be cured in the first place.

I really do not get that comment at all. I usually tell them that she is still deaf, but with scientific break throughs & her own hard work ethic, she has accomplished much.

Carol said...

I am a very short (five feet in heels), chunky, never married Anglo woman. In July 2003, I adopted two little guys from my school. My boys are now 15 and 16. They are gigantic- the older one is 5'10, the younger is 6'4" and has size 16 feet. Oh, and did I mention that they are African American?

We get comments and stares ALL. THE. TIME. Mostly I try to be kind. I figure people are just curious and this is my opportunity to educate them about adopting from the foster care system. Maybe my example will lead someone else to take a child.

The one comment I absolutely CANNOT stand, "They are so lucky to have you."

Yeah, I guess they are lucky/blessed to have me. But I am also SUPER BLESSED to have them. We are blessed that God, from when time began, ordained that we would be a family. From the time I was a very little girl, I have wanted to be a mom. For whatever reason, God did not plan me to marry and have children biologically. Instead I get to be the mom to these two terrific guys… And I love being a mom. And am praying about adopting a couple of more.

My favorite adoption comment ever:
Shortly after I adopted my boys we were at a football banquet at a local arcade. The boys were 8 and 9 at the time. We were standing in line waiting to go into some attraction. One of the little guys on my son's team was struck up a conversation with me.
Him: So you're K's mom?
Me: Yes.
He looked K up and down and me up and down, and I got all prepared to give my speech about how people didn't have to look the same to love each other. Here was his next comment however:
Aren't you kind of old to be a mom?

Ok, then.

Jean said...

I tolerated it at first- want to share our story and in hopes others may want to adopt.

But now our daughters are older and they hear the conversation- it is so inappropriate.

It really bothers me now and I don't have a good comeback...

I get "Are they all sisters?" and "Where are they from?"- I answered back the suburb we live in- it didn't stop her she then moved onto "they are obviously adopted. What country are they from?"

oh ugh...

Sally-Girl! said...

Sounds like we all have the dame issues and it frustrates each of us. I tend to be more like Karin's comment, but I do like Lisa's "why do you ask?"

Jennifer O'Cain said...

I finally had a chance to review the comments. Yesterday I finished reading Silent Tears by Kay Bratt(I know most of you probably read it ages ago but I avoided it for a long time bc I was scared of it's truth)and I was struck by what she wrote at the end of a chapter towards the end of the book. I hope she doesn't mind my requoting it here but she wrote in regards to why not adopt domestic.

"I never respond to these irrational people. Don't they see? The birth country isn't the point at all. If they could see what I see, or hold one of these children in their arms for a minute, they'd realize that it doesn't matter what nationality these kids are or what country they came from-they just need a home."

So my favorite response is from Connie.

"He draws a circle representing the Earth and says, 'now imagine you are God, looking at Your creation. Do you love the children of Asia, Africa, North America.... any differently?"

Your hubby sounds like a smart man! I hope he won't mind me stealing his line.

annie said...

Ok, comment from someone who has not adopted (yet) but wants to...

I can understand why hearing the same ignorant questions gets old. I really can. But I like Holly's comment about trying to be sensitive to the fact that most people are not trying to be rude when they ask these questions. In fact, I believe that most of them are trying to be friendly by learning more about you and your family. Perhaps they don't come off that way because they're not versed in the "language" of adoptive families. But I hope everyone can find a way to answer in grace and love and forgiveness...

And I'm curious: Why is it offensive if somebody asks if two are twins? or what country they are from (since it's obvious they are of another ethnicity)? I'd really like to know! Since I hope to adopt someday soon (probably from Ukraine), please give me some insight.

Email is fine:

God bless.

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