Tuesday, November 26, 2013

The Questions, Comments and Stares

Before we adopted Elias, I spent a lot of time preparing myself for how to respond to curiosity and questions about our racial differences. Since it is obvious that Elias is not my biological child, I anticipated questions about "Is he really yours" and "Why doesn't he look like you?" and general international adoption questions from strangers who feel like it is appropriate to ask such things.

But I was totally unprepared for the amount of staring and questions that we would receive about his leg. In the 7+ years we've had with Elias, I've had ZERO questions about our racial difference and FOUR THOUSAND AND NINETY TWO questions about his disability.

The first few times I was asked a question by a stranger I was sort of caught off guard and stumbled through my response. (I can't count the number of time I have had people tap me on the shoulder to get my attention and then ask me "What happened to him?" Seriously!?!) As time has gone on, I've gotten lots of practice on perfecting my responses. I've also developed thicker skin and am able to set healthy boundaries and protect my kids better by the responses I give.

But even though we experienced years of stares and questions with Elias, I was taken back by the increase in the intensity of the stares and comments once Tessa became part of our family. At times this has been one of the most difficult aspects of life since adopting Tessa.

I have good days and bad days in how I handle my reactions and responses to people's stares, questions and comments towards Tessa. I've found incredible power in forgiveness- releasing the hurtful comments and not allowing bitterness to take root. And I continually thank God for the joy and honor it is to have Tessa as our own. This gives me strength to go to places where stares abound  like parks, schools, and restaurants.

Hearing about how much others comment and ask questions about our kids makes some people afraid to ask anything at all for fear of offending. Disability and racial differences can make people all awkward and overly fearful about doingsayingbeingasking the "right way". But education is key and I actually don't mind most questions- I see them as part of our role in our community as an adoptive family that includes kids with disabilities.

I'm going to do a little mini-series on the most common questions we are asked and how we respond and also a few tips on interacting with people with disabilities (hint= no different than anyone else). So stay tuned!

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