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« On Again & Off Again. | Main | When You Look at Me »

June 08, 2010



Paula!! I'm so glad that you're posting!!

And I'm even more glad that you posted on this particular topic. I know my kids, now that they're grown, are dealing with this, and I hope every day that I've given them the tools you talk about. WISE Up was the acronym I used to remind them, from the CASE workshop: Walk away, say It's private, Share something, or Educate others. Frankly, I hope they turn to the first two more often, because I think it sends a message to people who would ask such questions in the first place. But they can choose, they're grown ups now.

Hope all is well in your world!

Paula O.

Margie - I completely agree about utilizing the "W" and the "I" as much as possible. I'm all for sharing and educating when it's initiated by me or my kids and it's a choice that we are exercising freely, but not when it feels like it's something that ought to be done just for the benefit of the person asking the question.

Cathy Doyle

Paula thank you for this. My daughter probably has a bit more toughness in her, but she's getting to the age now where her teachers report that they're discussing adoption in class (5 of the 20 kids in the class are adopted) and we need to do more to prepare her to tell others to bug off--but in a nice way!


I love this and I agree that I think you are doing something really *nice* for your kids. Your words are very thoughtful. Getting ready to adopt transracially myself at this time, I struggle with these types of boundary issues.


It can be so difficult for me to get people to stop saying offensive things while at the same time not being offensive myself. And I hate scenes which also limits what I feel I can say and do. I'm glad to hear that other people have some of the same issues.


Thank you! Thank You! Thank YOU!!!! You hit the nail on the head. I am a 30 something adoptee who has struggled all of my life on how to respond to those "Questions, Comments, and unwanted Advice." Please keep blogging...they are wonderful!


As a 'nice' person, with a daughter who happens to be adopted from Vietnam, I applaud you. Oh, I don't mind people asking decent questions. And, I, like you, feel the need to educate people. However, you brought up some VERY good points. Why should I, or my daughter, when she gets older, have to put up with blatant racism, just to be nice? To make the other person feel better?!?!

I am truly going to take your post to heart, and use it to educate my daughter, when she starts school, on how to just walk away, or to let her know it's OKAY to be rude back, if someone is being rude to her. How liberating! We don't HAVE to be nice!!! THANK YOU for that!!!!!!


One more comment....your statement, "What ARE you, exactly?" has just rankled my nerves. Part of me would love to teach my child to answer this question with, "a space alien, you dumbass." But, to take a little more of a high road, I'd be happy if she just answers, "a PERSON," and walks away.

How horribly, terribly rude of that person!!!!!!

Paula O.

Michelle - I'm right there with you about the question "What ARE you?" It's so offensive - just as bad when people ask "What kind of blend is your daughter?" (Seriously - she ain't coffee or fabric!)

In regards to the above inquiries, I've tried to help my daughter respond in a way that turns the question around and puts the onus back on the one asking. Responses like "What do you mean exactly?" or "What are you trying to ask me?" or my favorite "I think I know what you're trying to get at, but could you please rephrase it in a more appropriate and respectful manner?"

Admittedly we're still working on those kinds of responses (she usually just walks away or chooses not to answer), but hopefully at least she knows that she has options.

Robin Westbrook

We moms have the same problem. But the thing is that I have never seen a tombstone engraved with the words, "She was a really nice person." I have also never seen one that said, "she held on to her virginity" or "she never gave anyone an argument." Sometimes you just need to be calmly firm and let people know their comments and questions are inappropriate and hurtful. Good blog.


Great post, Paula! I applaud you for coming to the realization that you owe no one an explanation... for anything. My children and their feelings come first over anyone's curiosities and I hope my responses to strangers reflects that. You are helping your children in more ways than one to be strong, confident and loving individuals. Thanks so much for your insight!


Paula, you mean your daughter isn't a nice (pun intended) poly-cotton blend that washes up well??? (BIG SIGH).

Thank you for letting me see that my daughter will also have options. She does NOT have to be nice. I REALLY love the idea of having someone rephrase the question. LOVE that. I shall file that one away in my mind, too. THANK YOU!!! (Again). :)


Thanks so much for sharing this post, Paula! I'm just starting to deal with all the random and upsetting things that people say when I'm with my daughter. I spent the first six months in "shocked silence" or "overeager explaining" modes, but have been realizing that these approaches aren't going to work once my daughter is old enough to follow the conversations. I like some of these "turning the question back on the asker" responses you shared.... I think I'll try them.

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