Last week we went to the fair.
During our quest for the greasiest, most expensive food on the planet, we were walking down the crowded midway and a young girl behind us noticed Justin carrying baby Noelle.
She innocently asked, "Daddy, am I adopted?"
He acted like the question was some kind of affront. "No! Of course not! Why in the world would you ask that?!" His words weren't necessarily harsh, but his tone was.
I had to talk Justin out of turning around and giving the man a lecture. The man didn't mean to be rude. The question took him by surprise. But he sure seemed upset that his child would ask that. The man's tone of voice clearly said I'm offended that you asked that. The between-the-lines message was Something is wrong with adoption.
His daughter is smart enough to pick up on this. After all, our nonverbal communication is far more impacting than our words. Perhaps they have a nuclear family with a biological mother, father and children. But I guarantee that the little girl has a classmate (or several) whose family looks a little bit different. Single parents, step parents, adopted by step parents, raised by grandparents, homosexual parents, cohabitating parents, step parent adoption, step siblings, traditional adoption, you name it. That little girl knows someone with a family that is different than hers.
And she was just told that something is wrong with that.
Plus my daughter--who is very proud of the fact that she is adopted--was exposed to the derision in this man's voice. Joci didn't look at me with confusion and hurt in her eyes and ask, "Mommy, is it bad to be adopted?" I hope that the reason she didn't say anything was because she didn't hear the man, not because she felt shamed into silence.
I am not sure why the man didn't respond to his daughter a little more diplomatically. "No, honey, you weren't adopted. Why do you ask?"
Careful the things you say; children will listen.