Friday, June 01, 2001

Suffering fools

When someone approaches you in a supermarket and asks a poorly phrased question about your adopted children in front of said children (something like "Where are their real parents?" or "Are they really siblings?"), do you:

a) treat it as a "teachable moment" to enlighten a stranger in the true wonderfulness of adoption;

b) fire back a clever comment that puts the rude questioner in line;

c) hit the person about the head with the nearest blunt instrument.

Personally, I would like to say my answer is "b"; sometimes, "c" definitely does seem to be appropriate; but normally, all I can think of is a relatively straight and overly informative answer that would probably place me in category "a." The "b" answer, I think of a couple of hours later.

Unlike a lot of adoptive parents, if a recent go-round on an adoptive parents' e-mail list is any indication, I don't have strong feelings about this. I've often said more about my kids' adoption than was really necessary, and it's often turned out well -- people who were considering adoption or know people who are get some encouraging information from me, and I get to feel like a good little adoption evangelist. I've advocated in this space for people not being afraid to tell their adoption stories, and I meant it. At the same time, I'm a little alarmed by the notion that adoptive parents have to be good little adoption evangelists every waking moment, always ready to say a good word, even when they're at the supermarket and the kids are screaming and they really just want to go home.

Sometimes, it's true, people who make insensitive comments are really good and interested people with poor language skills. Sometimes, they're just nosy and rude, and if someone is quick-witted enough to fling a barbed comeback their way, my hat's off to 'em.

In fact, maybe they could come shopping with me.

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