Wednesday, February 11, 2009

How Rude!

Someone I know has a child with significant issues.

I'm leaving the particular details out of this post because in the end, they don't matter. The issues could be medical, behavioral, emotional, educational, physical, mental...the list goes on and on, but you're smart people, you bloggy friends, and you get the picture.

It's not even important to qualify the child in question with specifics. He (or she) could be any age, any religion or any race. It is sufficient to say that this child's story (or parent's story--depending on which side of the table you're reading from) is any child's story. Most likely you know a child who has struggled somewhere along their way, and many of you have probably parented one.

And if you aren't, let your knees hit the floor...quickly.

When I jokingly tell my mom stories about some of my more *special* (read: high-maintenance) children, she wisely tells me, "Aren't we all a little *special* in our own ways." Evidencing yet another cosmic truth: My mother is always right. Granted, some *special* needs may not seem as challenging to the casual onlooker, but to the parent dealing with the child who has tried on every pair of pants she owns and deemed them all "too scratchy" it can challenge the most patient parent. Trust me.

Which is why I was shocked at the implication, appalled by the audacity and saddened by the notion that someone should pose this question to my friend regarding her situation:

"Why did you even do this?"

You see, there is one important fact that must be a part of this story.

The child in question, who has struggled so mightily, was adopted.

So the question to the not-so-silent observer was obvious. Why would you have ever taken on a child who would cause you such pain, force you to make such sacrifices, and occasionally remove any sense of control you had from your life?

Horrified, I thought to myself, "Would anyone dare ask such a question to a mother whose biological child was such a burden?" On first thought, it would seem unlikely. The implication of the question my friend was subjected to bespeaks one of the tragic misconceptions of adoption:

Children raised by their birth parents never struggle, while adopted children always do.

But, as we who have parented the children we have birthed we know the fallacy of that argument. We understand the role God's grace plays in the lives of all our children--birth or adopted. Sadly, however, as I thought a little longer, it dawned on me that birth mothers are all too often asked this question as well. The only difference is in the timing. Mothers who are given a frightening prenatal diagnosis hear that same question when they decide to continue a pregnancy with a child whom the world deems less-than-perfect.

What would you have said to such an intrusive (and by intrusive, I mean rude) question? I'm finishing my thoughts on this but I'd like to hear what you all have to say.


Eileen said...

How about, "Because he's my son."

...paired with an incredulous look that leaves no doubt as to the inappropriateness of the question -- and that the conversation is over.

And a mental check: Don't talk about issues like this with that person anymore.

I think it's important to be very, very selective about with whom, and how, I share my struggles with my children. Often, when people hear someone share frustrations and difficulties, they think it's because the person wants out. They also tend to "side" with you, and to think less of the one who is causing you such pain (which is not fair to your child).

Barb, sfo said...

People never fail to astound me in their capacity to be rude.

I will pray for your friend today....and I think Eileen's comment above has a lot of wisdom behind it.

Kristina said...

I like Eileen's comment. I would add, "Because I love him."

Maureen said...

"Because I'm his Mom."
Having a family that is a mixture of colors I sometimes get the strangest comments. I always presume the best intentions and answer never know when it might make someone stop and think about their preconceptions.

Anne said...

As a mother to both biological and adoptive children, I tell them and others that it is GOD who built my family and it is GOD who will give me the graces needed to parent each of them. But that does not mean that I won't struggle.

One child is not better than another. Each is unique and an individual, but I love them all. God loves each of us as individuals. He died for each of us, not as a 'unit.' And if they have any comments about my children, they better bring up to God first. Then they can make a comment to me.

Becky said...

Oh, that is such a terrible comment. Basically she is chose this so you deserve it. Horrible. I don't know what I would say...I know I can't think of anything kind...or clean! It makes me sad that women aren't more supportive of each other...especially as mothers. God bless this mom and I'm sending my love through prayers for her...and the dork who made that comment.

scmom (Barbara) said...

I have no idea what I would say to someone posing such a rude question. It might be equally rude. I know, however, that I ask myself this question all the time and my children are all biologically mine! Yes, all kids provide their own special headaches (and heartaches) to their parents. But, that's what parenting is all about -- it's a combination of trial and joy.

Life in Fitzville said...

Some comments are not even worth a response... but I like that first one... because he is my son.

I will also say that while I haven't had anyone be so blunt, I have had people pose the same question to me.