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August 02, 2010


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I'm terrible with on the spot come-backs and defense. Like you, I get home and conjure up all the things I should have said and wanted to say.

Any non-nincompoop with half a heart would have said with affection and respect (because she is, too, a mother), "she's beautiful," after you pointed out your daughter, and left it at that. Some people are unfortunately unequipped with filters that can process sensitive thought.

I'm sure one day I'll be writing about all the non-sensical things that get said about my half-Turkish half-American children. While I'm not in the same situation as you, I can definitely relate to fending off comments.

Good luck - I agree - it's all a process.

Casey Freeland

You could throw food at her, make your daughter think you are playing some kind of party game and then skip away with her, laughing at your really good shot.


WOW! I am amazed at the ignorance of some people. Your daughter will grow up wise by your example. Be proud.


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Good luck!

Tracy Hahn-Burkett

The things that people say to adoptive parents, ESPECIALLY in the presence of their kids, never ceases to amaze me. And despite the fact that I hear this stuff all the time, I frequently find myself disappointed in my own response when someone directs an ignorant or rude comment at me with regard to my family. It's hard to be clever or effective when you're just so darn shocked at another person's behavior.

My daughter--whom my husband and I adopted from South Korea--is now five, however, and I have gotten better at this both because I've had time to practice and because I feel the pressure that comes from knowing she now understands more of what people say. Thus I was finally able to respond with a polite remark that silenced a rude, older man who was certain I would love his comments about Koreans being hard workers. (I blogged about this incident at http://unchartedparent.com/?p=985.)

It's still tough to always be "on" in case you have to respond to someone, though, and I imagine it's even harder in your situation with the added element of living in a culture that's not your own. You've got an additional cultural layer through which you must filter all of these interactions; that's a lot of pressure!

In case it makes you feel any better, I'll include a link here to a piece I wrote last fall called "10 Things Not to Say to Adoptive Parents--Especially in Front of Their Kids." (http://www.babble.com/parents-adoption-advice/index.aspx) It includes some of the answers we adoptive parents so often wish we could give when we hear these comments, but for various reasons we don't.

The bottom line on handling adoption comments: you're right, it's a process. It takes a long time to figure out how to do it, and it's going to change anyway as your child gets older. But you're thinking through it and working on it, and that's how you get there.


Oh, Kristin. I'm so sorry. I'm sorry that you are dealing, like the majority of adoptive parents, with all of this insensitivity. I could write pages about this (and as you know, I have "your own", "real," etc.). Find some pat answers that will work for you. When people ask , I often respond, "Why do you want to know?" You will, if you haven't already, develop an antenna for people like this and be able to cut the off or walk away...or use a code word. Hang in there. Give yourself a break, okay? You are a wonderful mother.

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  • Kristin Bair O'Keeffe

Kristin Bair O'Keeffe
Shanghai, China

I live in Shanghai, China, with my Irish
husband and Vietnamese daughter.
Throughout the past four years, I've
crisscrossed the globe more times than
I can count, and while doing so, have
discovered what a kooky, miraculous,
and lovely place our world is. My experiences
enlighten me, inspire me, and crack me up.