Dear Abby: May I comment on the March 6 letter from “Open-minded in Pennsylvania,” the adoptive mother of a biracial child who asked for a witty comeback for strangers’ comments/questions? This is a rare teachable moment! If a parent reacts with even a hint of displeasure, the child will think the parent is displeased with her/him.
We adopted a daughter of a different race 29 years ago. When I received comments/questions, my face would light up, and I would respond, “Oh, we adopted her! She is Filipino! We are so blessed to have her in our lives!” The rare times when someone didn’t respond in a positive way, we would hurry on with a wave and a smile, and I would hug her close. Our daughter has grown up proud of her ethnic background and knowing she’s special. She is now married and the proud mother of two biracial children.
– Judy in Texas
Dear Judy: You handled the situation beautifully. I heard from a lot of adoptive parents after printing that letter. Here are some of their comments:
Dear Abby: Thirty years ago, we adopted two baby girls of a different race from ours. Our adoption social worker gave us some insightful advice about what to do when someone made a bigoted or ignorant remark. She said:
“Always remember your child is watching you to see how she is supposed to feel about what has just happened. If you become upset and defensive, your children will feel that way, too, and begin to believe something is ‘wrong’ about them and your family. So take the role of teacher and educate the ignorant person. Keep it light, add humor if you can, and then chuckle later with your child and other family members about the silly dumbness of a few people in the world.”
It worked for us.
– Antonia, Mother of Two
Dear Abby: When my adopted son from Bogota, Colombia, was about 4 months old, we were shopping for groceries one day. A woman approached our cart and asked, “Where is he from?” I smiled and replied, “Heaven!”
– Kathy in New York
Dear Abby: I employ a strategy I learned from your column. I face the questioner with a smile and say, “I am stunned that you would ask such a personal thing!” To that mother, I say: Hold your head high, radiate pride in your precious child, and know that all is right in your world.
– Pat in the Northwest
Dear Abby: I have a wonderful grandchild of mixed race. When I’m asked insensitive questions such as “What is he?”
I smile, hold him close and respond, “He’s perfect – don’t you think?”
– Proud Gran in South Carolina