When They Don't Get It, from Our Little Tongginator:
The other day someone walked up to me at a public event, gestured to the Tongginator, and asked, "where did you get her?" Okay, so maybe I'm overly sensitive about this, but... GET her? As if I ran down to Target and purchased some toilet paper, a bag of chips, baby wipes and, oh, a CHILD. Thankfully the Tongginator did not hear the woman's comment and I replied, "we adopted our daughter from China."Please Don't Pet My Daughter, from On African Tyme:
That's when she pointed across the room to her daughter and said, "I just thought we might have that in common."
The encounter made me stop. It made me think. I don't exactly know how to navigate situations such as these, when someone walks up to me - out of the blue - to discuss adoption topics. Usually the Tongginator also hears the comment, so I draw my daughter into the conversation, asking if she'd like to discuss the topic and, when she says no (and she ALWAYS says no), I share that my daughter doesn't usually wish to discuss such personal matters with people we do not know.
But how to navigate when the questioner is a fellow adoptive parent who either used an unfortunate turn of phrase that just so happens to be a hot button for me?
This morning Rodas and I were picking out some peaches at the grocery store when a woman walks up to Rodas--without even glancing my way or saying anything--and starts combing her hands through Rodas' hair. She then grabs Rodas' chin and tries to get her to look at her. She's not really aggressive, but she's very direct and her manner was as though she was looking for something on Rodas (lice? Trying to see if Mom was taking care of her hair? I don't know...). I was very taken aback. Rodas was as well, as she immediately stiffened up and withdrew (as if to say, go ahead and touch me but I'm taking my soul out of it). She's done this before and I know she likes to be the one to initiate physical touch (as it should be) ESPECIALLY from strangers. I know I wouldn't enjoy some complete stranger walking up to me and running their hands through my hair and looking me over like a doll they might buy.It's a Small World, But Not THAT Small, from adult adoptee Paula at Heart, Mind & Seoul:
I firmly tried to give the woman the hint to remove her hands from my daughter by saying "Excuse me, my daughter's not used to complete strangers coming up and petting her." I said it with a smile to lighten it, but obviously it was too light because the woman tried to get Rodas to look at her once again then she just smiled at us and walked off!
Setting: Family chain restaurant, c. 1990, predominantly white suburb in the MidwestGo read all three posts in their entirety, Then come back and talk!
Characters: Myself (19 years old) and well meaning white couple, approximately 50 years old
"Hello, my name is Paula and I'll be your server today. May I bring you anything to drink right away?"
"Hi there." Stares curiously at me. Tell me, dear, by any chance are you a Korean?"
"Yes I am."
"Are you adopted?"
"Yes, ma'am." (Oh help me, where is this going?)
"By any chance do you know Steve?"
"Yes, Steve. I believe he's a Korean and adopted as well. Our friends got him a while ago."
"No, I'm sorry I don't."
"Are you sure? Because he's a Korean. And adopted. Like you."
So, adoptive parents, what has been your worst encounter with a stranger? How did you approach it? Has your approach changed over time, as your child gets older? Adoptees, what encounters do your remember from childhood? How did your parents approach it? How did you wish your parents had handled it? As adults, how do you handle intrusive incidents?