Responding to intrusive questions from strangers

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Responding to intrusive questions from strangers

Adoptive families like mine are often visible because we don't look like each other. That means that strangers think, and often feel entitled, to ask us questions about how we are connected, or even if we are connected. That can trigger to children. That can often stimulate them to feel if they belong in our family. It's important we give some careful thought to this. When strangers come up to us and ask us how much our children cost or details of their birth, like, was their mother on drugs or whatever stereotype they may have of adoption. First of all, that's none of their business. For me, I might not be that nice about it, but if you are you and you want to respond to the adult. What I say to you is; your number one responsibility is to the child standing next to you, whether they are two or five or eight. Believe me, you will get those questions at all those ages. You need to take care of your child. You need to act like family. You need to entitle your child not to tell their personal story of their private business to everyone. Nobody is owed that, even if they are an adult. You need to give them permission not to answer questions. That means, you need to demonstrate it. So, in my family, what I often did; was touch my children, we acted like family, and then I would say something like, "Do you want to answer the question this time or should I?" You'll notice that I re-directed my gaze to my child. What was I saying? Who is important here? You are. Not this stranger over here, you are. Then, they would say, "You take it mom." The other one would say, "Tell them I am a Guatemalan princess and my family couldn't take care of me this last year, so I'm living with you." The adult would look at us like, "Are you going to tell us she is full of it?" I never did. I always had my daughter's back. We are family. We always said, "It's us against them." Then, we have to do the most important thing of all. After these things happened to us in the grocery store, we go home and talk about it. We got laugh about it or got annoyed with it.

Learn about: Responding to intrusive questions from strangers from Beth Hall,...


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Beth Hall

Director, Pact - An Adoption Alliance

Beth Hall is an adoption educator who co-founded Pact, An Adoption Alliance, which is a multicultural adoption organization dedicated to addressing essential issues affecting adopted children of color. Pact offers lifelong support and placement services for birth and adoptive families with adopted kids of color. A national speaker, she is also the author of numerous articles and a book, Inside Transracial Adoption, which is filled with personal stories, practical suggestions, and theory, and delivers the message that race matters; racism is alive; and families built transracially can develop strong and binding ties. In 2010 she received the Outstanding Practitioner in Adoption Award, from the Adoption Initiative at St. John's University. She currently serves as a contributing author and advisory board member for “Adoption Clubhouse,” a project promoting positive identity in transracially adopted children for the Evan B. Donaldson Institute for Adoption and as an Advisory Board Member for the On Your Feet Foundation, dedicated to supporting birth mothers of adopted children.Commitment to family is a way of life for Beth. She is the white adoptive mom of two young adults: Sofia, a Latina, and James, an African American. Beth grew up a member of an adoptive family—her sister, Barbara, was adopted. She lives in Oakland, California, with her husband and sometimes her adult children, when they are home.

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