Stupid Is as Stupid Does....

During the process of preparing for our adoption, we took several online courses and attended an all-day seminar at our agency for multi-cultural families. One segment of the classes focused on dealing with questions, remarks and prejudice from other people and total strangers.

Since we've been home from Korea, and have taken Isaac out to eat, shop for groceries, to the zoo and to the mall - we've mainly gotten lots of smiles and many kind comments like "He's SO cute!". We've also gotten quite a few stares (some have been not-so-friendly glares almost, believe it or not.), and a few people have just asked how old he is.

Today, however, takes the cake. We went to a K.O.H.L.'s store to exchange a gift we'd received for Isaac that was a duplicate. We approached the gal at the counter and explained we'd already received the exact outfit and just wanted to exchange it for another outfit or a toy. The gal insisted she see the baby (wanted us to back up the stroller so she could see him over the counter). When she saw that he was Asian - the first words out of her mouth were "Is He Adopted"?? I think I was so taken aback, that I think I just mumbled 'yeah'....Looking back, I wish I would've thought to just say, "No, Why do you ask?" or "What do you think?". (I mean really....He's Asian...Dad has blonde hair/blue eyes, and mom has red hair/green eyes....what do you think???!!! Did I ask you very personal questions? No I just wanted to exchange merchandise!! )

She then went on for 10 minutes, telling us about several people she knew who adopted Chinese babies, and all the problems they'd had with the children (and half-whispered "I don't mean to insult China or their babies, or um whatever") and asking more intrusive, sort of ignorant, slightly rude questions throughout. I finally even said "Um he's from Korea..." because she went on and on and on with a bunch of negative BS about Chinese adoption like she was an expert. Being polite as I usually am, I just answered some of the questions as best I could and hubby finally excused himself to use the restroom and I somehow got her to just explain the return process and shut up.

We both walked away from this gal feeling kind intruded upon, aggravated and shaking our heads at her ignorance and lack of grace. I am sure, however, she will not be the first. I know some people are naturally curious...and that's okay if you are nice, respectful, and don't pry or dig too much. But this gal was just rude and annoying.

In our classes we learned of the W.I.S.E. Up method of responding to adoption questions. This is a tool to help children decide how they wish to respond to adoption questions based upon what they are comfortable with sharing about their birth and adoption and their history. In the case of infants/toddlers such as Isaac - it's a helpful tool for families, when the child can't speak for themselves.

W.I.S.E. Stands for:
W= Walk Away....
I= saying "It's Private"...
S= Share (some info)
E= Educate Others

It depends upon the situation - which response you choose to utilize. Who is asking, what they are asking and why, etc. I think the WISE UP workbook is really a helpful tool for children and families.

I've also come across other materials that suggest responding with Humor, Gentle Sarcasm, and that question - "Why Do You Ask" - which really puts the questioning person on the spot. If the question really is rude, the best thing to do is say nothing at all and turn and walk away. Actions speak louder than words.

I wish I had been a quicker thinker today - and said "Well....Why do you ask? Is that important?" to that gal. Or "Look, I just came to exchange something, that's all I want to discuss". I think I'll be more on my game next time.


Andie said...

You and I have had this discussion before, and the way I feel about it. I wish that I had know about that when I adopted my kids.
I am sorry you had to deal with this, even though I dare say it's unavoidable. The simple facts:
People are rude, inconsiderate and ignorant. *Sigh* No easy button there to fix that.

I forget that my BEAUTIFUL and GORGEOUS and exotic looking bebes (*well, not anymore but to me they still are*) don't look like me, and that is the way it should be. And I am still taken aback when people make comments about their ethnicity.

Fortunately for us when we are together as a family they look enough like my husband whose heritage is Cherokee Indian that it stops some of that. But it makes it no less hurtful when people make such insensitive comments.

Because to us...they are our children, heart, soul, and spirit, no matter how they came to us or how much they do or don't favor us physically.

LOVE you. Kiss Isaac for me!

Apple said...

Don't you just hate when you think of something to say AFTER the conversation is over?


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