Why I'm Dreading Basketball This Saturday (OR More Stuff People Say that I Just Cannot Believe)

This year both Chloe and Cooper are playing UpWard basketball. It's great because they have K/1 teams, so they can both play on the same team making my life oh so much easier.

However, I'm now sort of dreading basketball because lately, it's been the go-to place for stupid things people say about adoption. I'm sure it's coincidental, but still........

Basketball Game #1:

Sawyer is sitting on the sidelines when a boy he knows a little through UpWards past comes up to chat.   In the course of conversaiton, he asks Sawyer who he is here to watch.

Sawyer: "My brother"

Boy: "Oh, which one is he?"

Sawyer: "Number 12"

Boy (confused look on face): "Um....is he? Um.....what is he- Indian or something?"

Sawyer: "He's Chinese." (said in a tone that implies "DUH")

Boy: "Oh. (with a tone of realization) "OH....so did you guys adopt him or something?"

Sawyer: "Yeah"

Boy: "Oh" (with a tone that implies he's got it all figured out) "So, he's not your real brother."

Sawyer (both surprised and angry): "He's my real brother!"

Boy: "No, no I mean your REAL brother."

Sawyer (raising his voice): "He IS my real brother." (with a tone that implied the boy had better shut up....I was kinda proud)

I stepped in at that point and said something that I think was both instructive and gracious. I even managed to control my tone which would most certianly NOT have been gracious.

Here is the problem with this comment, which many people who do not have an adoptee in their family may not see: Copper has never, ever, for even one nano second doubted that he is anything BUT Sawyer's real brother- which of course, he IS! Cooper IDOLIZES Sawyer, and hearing this comment would have absolutely CRUSHED Cooper. There would have been sobbing, questions, and he may very well of assumed in his 6 year old mind that this uneducated boy was right. That he knows something that Cooper doesn't.

This is what people do not realize when they use the different versions of the "real" comment ("Where is his real mother?"; "Does he see his real parents?"): Cooper hears them, understands them, and internalizes them. You are sending him a message that is COMPLETELY untrue and makes him feel "less than". It's a comment that is damaging. It just is. You can try to argue why it shouldn't be, but it IS.

In the end, because Cooper didn't hear this comment, I was ultimately thankful for the encounter as it reminded me to work with my older two kids to help them find good ways to field this question in the future if I may NOt be around. And, I was careful to tell them that is I was not there and this happened in front of Cooper, that they were to defend his "realness" with all the passion they have in them. They'd never get in trouble with me if they do.


Basketball Week 2:

I was sitting watching my kids play when the pastor of this church came in. I grew up in this church, so I immediately said "Hello" and we started talking. I asked him how many grandchildren he has now, and he said 28, 29 was due any day, and 30 would come along in 1-2 months via adoption. I immediately congraulated him, and asked where his son was adopting from.

He replied, "Oh, he's adopting from North Carolina. You know, there are 600 children available for adoption in North Carolina right now. So many people want to adopt overseas, because it is "romantic" (he used air quotes here) and it's very "trendy", but you know, there are so many kids available right here in the United States, and I'm ALL for that. We should be adopting those kids."

Stunend into near speechlessness, I stamered something like, "Well, congratulations!", and literally turned and walked away. I figured an awkward, abrupt end to the conversation was better than what my knee-jerk reaction would have been.

In hindsight, I should have said, "Well, you know we adopted our son from China, and the words 'romantic' and 'trendy' would not have been words I would ever have occured to me to describe the experience."

Or maybe better yet: "You know, all kids everywhere are valuable. They are all created by God and He loves them all immensely- they are all worthy of a family, and I don't think God cares where that family comes from, but He is pleased when orphans becomes sons and daughters because it is a living breathing picture of His love for us."

That would have been good too. 

But, man, I get this one all the time and it makes me so angry I respond poorly to it every time!

It makes me SO FRUSTRATED because:
  • American kids are not any more (or less) worthy of a family than any other kids anywhere else on earth. Children from other countries are not any less worthy because they are not American. Period.
  • We did NOT go to China because it was romantic, trendy, exotic (another word we often hear), or anything else....we went there because God laid it on our heart as where our child was. We were filled with passion for China before we even researched adoption of any kind- we just knew our child was there. So be it- why do you have a problem with that? (And many, many people do, and have told us so.) A child who did not have a family will- how can you argue with that in ANY way without sounding like a jerk? We happen to love that he's Chinese. 
  • Please don't call anything about adoption "romantic"- that's so ridiculous I'll be tempted to punch you.
  • As IF I base my decisions on the likes of Brad Pi*tt, Ang*elina Jo*lie, or anyone else in Hollywood or on the planet for that matter. And following their lead to plan our family.......completely and utterly insane. 
Please- if you feel this way, do not say it out loud. Just trust me on this. 

This is just a reminder to educate yourself and be careful what you say. Think about how what you are saying will sound- especially if a child will hear it. 

Thankfully, the blizzard cancelled basketball for Saturday, but I am hopeful that these are isolated incidents that just so happened to both happen at basketball.

So, I suppose I'll go back this week. However, if it happens again- all bets are OFF!


rachel said...

ooooh jenna. it's weird, but since evie has gotten older we rarely if ever get these kind of comments anymore. the first one i would have let slide, because kids don't really understand the semantics of adoption and how those words feel. but the second one would have definitely had me seeing red.

strangely enough, the two mean-ish comments we've had within the last year were from people in our church.

1. Another AP to me when I was 35 weeks pregnant with Iris - "Boy, I don't understand how *anyone* could have bio kids with 150 million orphans living in this world." That one really frustrates me because we give away a lot of money to organizations that help keep families together. We also financially support other families in their adoptions. Adopting is not the only way to help orphans!

2. From a family who adopted an AA child domestically - "We don't get why people think they need to go "out there" when there are so many kids right here who need to be adopt. You waited for your child "out there". We were matched almost immediately with our child, domestically."

Really?? What is the point of saying that kind of thing? So rude. I'll admit though, in general Christians say things that often frustrate me way more than the things I hear from secular people.

Kristi said...

And the second one from a pastor no less?
The snarky part of me would have been tempted to respond, (as a resident of NC) "You want to play the numbers game? well, 600 is a lot, but there are at least 100,000 in the country of my children's birth alone. And when we consider worldwide..."
But like you, I've simply walked away from comments just like that.
Praying that the next game brings something positive to restore your hope in basketball. :)

WilxFamily said...


Romantic?! Um, yeah. No words for that one.

You should share this on FB...this is an awesome post!

Oh, and had a kid ask if Evan was Spanish this week. wow.

Beckie said...

Romantic...bwahhahahah! Yeah, that is pretty much our house right now...home all of 3 weeks with our "trendy" kid. Wow...I guess I'd better get prepared. So far, it's been just a lot of the "you are SO wonderful" type comments.

andrea said...

great post.

thank you for being vulnerable and real.

love you friend