Thursday, October 1, 2015

Buy Coffee for Jerks?: Adoption Talk Link-Up

This topic is anything here goes something.

By now, you've probably heard the story of the woman who was standing in line at a coffee shop when she overheard the women behind her poking fun of her hair and her weight.  In return, the woman bought the two women's drinks.  Her 22 month old daughter was present during the incident.

Hold up.

This is like turning the other cheek.  Killing with kindness.  Catching flies with honey.  Salt and light. Counter-cultural, for certain.

I'm a mama bear.  When someone says something inappropriate or insulting to or in front of my kids, I feel my blood begin to boil.   Like the time my toddler son was called a "cute little thug," or when I hear someone say that something or someone is "so retarded," or when we're asked questions about adoption/our family's authenticity in the worst possible ways.  

I have had moments of victory.  For example, the time we were standing in line at Aldi to buy groceries and a stranger-woman turned to us and said, "Are they real sisters?"  (They being my two girls at the time).  I said, "Yes."  She then says, "But are they REALLY real sisters?"  Before I went all un-Jesus on her (it was right after church...), I took my girls by the hand and walked out the doors and to our car.    There was the time a woman blocked us from exiting our seats at my middle daughter's basketball game and began asking similar "real" questions.  I finally said to her, "That's really none of your business."   There was the time I was growing increasingly upset at a children's librarian who kept giving my family double-takes, and for some reason I felt like I must hold my tongue.  As we checked out our books, she confessed that she was adopted as a child and shared some of her experiences.  Giving her the benefit-of-the-doubt ended up being a fantastic opportunity to have a rich conversation.

But there have been times, as I shared in a recent Infant Adoption Guide podcast, that I gave away too much information and too much of my power as a mommy and advocate for my child.  These mostly occurred early in our parenting journey when I desperately wanted to be deemed as a real and confident and conquer the world mom.  What wasn't ok was that in being prideful, nervous, and anxious, I gave away too much information to people who didn't love us and wouldn't be part of our lives: they were just strangers.  Nosy strangers.

Families like mine constantly work at striking a balance between protecting our kids' stories and family privacy and being friendly enough that someone might actually want to be our friends for the long-haul.    Too much information makes us weak and isn't fair to our children, but too little information makes us seem snotty, uncertain, and prideful.  We dance, and dance, and dance again, each time getting a little smarter, stronger, and spot-on.

The mom at the coffee shop took the higher road than I have many times.  She had just a few minutes to decide what to do.  Should she give it to the women good (she had every right to!)?  Should she ignore the two women?  Should she put them in their place with a big dose of humble (pie) coffee?  Should she roll her eyes at them? Should she be passive aggressive, or just aggressive or just passive?

We moms are so hard on one another.  Strangers can be so cruel.     The saying is true.  Hurting people do hurt people.   What should we do in return, when we encounter hurt that stems from ignorance, pride, anger, confusion, selfishness, or bullying?

Every situation is different.  Every day is a new adventure in learning grace, patience, kindness, self-control.

One thing is for certain, the mom at the coffee shop made a choice that had far more of an impact than the alternatives.   I hope that I can have the wisdom, patience, and conviction to do the same, no matter my mood, my schedule, my anger, or my fears.

Now on to the Adoption Talk Linkup!

Today's topic is Names. Grab a button for your post and join Erin, Jamie, Jenni, Jill, Madeleine, Rachel, and me!
New to linking up? We'd love to have you join us, here's how.
No Bohns About It


  1. Rachel, I love this.
    I have a newly placed foster daughter in my home, and every day I feel like I've said too much to someone, somewhere. I am notoriously hard on myself, but I still wonder if/when I will ever "get it". It is so encouraging to me to hear how you have learned as you go along. I need to stop comparing my beginning to someone else's middle or end.
    I struggle with being a blogger but respecting the biological families privacy. I need to take a lesson from your book! Thank you so much for sharing.

    Suzanne Hines

  2. This is so important, that we don't get so caught up in LOOKING like we're doing it right that we aren't actually DOING it right -- parenting our kids. "What wasn't ok was that in being prideful, nervous, and anxious, I gave away too much information to people who didn't love us"

    I like the option of meeting aggression with kindness. It may not always work, but whenever hearts are changed, I imagine it's through kindness rather than through more aggression.

  3. I did the same thing, and even now I know I have a different filter than others might have. When they were little I often answered whatever questions people asked. I regret that now a lot... even if we don't have any current connection to those people... just the fact that I let out some personal things has stuck with me. My biggest mistake was signing a release for an adoption day picture. Our agency then used our kids picture about 5 years later with their story in the newspaper.... I never would have imagined the agency would have paired the picture and story together like that. I assumed they would just paste the picture up in the office or something.... anyways, all this to say that I have made mistakes. I hope I make less moving forward.


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