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Tuesday, November 22, 2011

You're Not His Dad

"You're not his Dad."  Those few words turned a trip with two little boys and their DAD into a very short trip.

My husband is often very ambitious in his adventures out by himself with the boys.  Where I would just rather stay home than take them to places I deem stressful (Chuck E Cheese's, a department store that doesn't have shopping carts, a restaurant by myself and them) my husband has no problems with it and packs them up in the car and they are off!  On Sunday he decided to take them to McDonald's so they could play in the playland since it's been below zero out for about a week and he needed to do some reading for school.  I know, reading while watching two toddlers at McDonald's playland!  Crazy!

My husband is very nice to strangers and is willing to talk and carry on a conversation.  So it was no surprise that when he was out with the boys a lady that was Native inquired what tribe AJ was from.  They talked a little about that and she shared which tribe she was from.  But then....but then....the lecture and grilling started. 

"Are you feeding him Native foods?  Has he tried seal oil?  Do you feed him lots of berries?  He needs lots of berries?  What about dried fish, I'm sure he loves dried fish?  Does he eat lots of white fish?"  Which is fine, ask away lady even feel free to tell us about something we might not have heard of and where to get it or how to prepare.  And present in a sharing way, not a 'you are taking his culture away from him by not tracking down some seal oil' kind of way.

Then it evolved into, "How are you going to make sure he's proud of his culture and gets to experience his culture?"  WHAT????? We've been grilled on that repeatedly by social workers, lawyers, tribal council members, birth parents, the judge, etc.  We dealt with that for 2 years straight and our answers and actions were deemed acceptable and he officially become OUR SON in June. 

In our state, there are commercials that are asking Native families to step forward to become foster parents because the percentage of Native kids in foster care is extremely high and disproportionate to the percentage of people that are Native in the state.  I understand wanting the kids to be able to experience the culture and honestly, if there had been an available Native home when AJ was placed with us, he would have been moved.  If a tribal member had wanted to adopt him over us, that would have most likely happened.  But there was no one that stepped forward and we wanted him so bad we did everything we could to make sure he didn't go to yet another family.

And then she drops the bomb, "Are you his foster dad?"

Husband : "No, I'm his Dad."

Rude lady: "No you're not."

I know my husband and I know how he sounded on the phone right after he quickly packed up the boys and left.  He was crushed.   After we talked about it I told him it's perfectly okay to tell someone, even a woman, that she was being rude and that the comment was completely inappropriate and left it at that.  I didn't want him to get into a verbal battle but it really is okay to tell people they are being rude. 

I'd say 90% of people that we come in contact with say things like, "Oh, he has dark hair like his dad, and this one has blonde hair like his mom!"  And they leave it at that.  The other 10%  of people dig a little deeper and start asking about their ages, are they brothers, etc.  I feel that I'm pretty good at reading people's intentions so if they are still asking appropriate questions then we will say we were lucky to be able to adopt our oldest this past June. 

I doubt this will be the last time my husband or myself encounter someone who makes inappropriate comments in front of our kids but it is a good reminder that we need to talk more about how to handle those situations and how we are going to start talking to AJ about adoption and where he came from. 

But in better news, AJ turns 3 this week!!  I can't believe it!  I brought that chubby cheeked cutie home as a 5 month old and he's a little boy now that carries on conversations with me!  We are very lucky to have him in our lives.


  1. Muaah to your boys..God bless your family..


  2. Oh heck no! I just can't even believe. I mean I can...I have heard so many things from strangers (and we get a lot of stares...have you seen the various shades and colors in my family? Lol) but that takes the cake.
    Your husband sounds like a good person. We all think we would have the perfect answer or response when dealing with a rude person but in reality many times we don't. It's the shock of it, that leaves us speechless.
    Don't let her ignorance get to you anymore. She is not worth it. Your boys are blessed to have a momma and daddy like you and your husband!

  3. My friends who've adopted have encountered rude people as well. We were at a baby shower where our mutual friend was the guest of honor. And I guess a distant rude releative came and happened to sit at our table and my friend brought along her son M with us that day because his dad was working. She asked lots of questions as M is Indian (India) and then she proceeded to make the remark that they took the easy way to parenting.

    My friend didn't say anything but I felt the need to. I wasn't mean but I think she got the point and realized she said something wrong. It was personal for me not just because she's my friend but because a year before we were in the adoption process and we'd been struggling to have a family.

    Sorry I have no option but to post as anonymous there's still issues with blogger.


  4. Wow that lady had some nerve to grill your husband like that. I would have flat out told her she was rude and not answered her string of questions. Your situation is no ones business but your own.I guess this is something i should prepare myself for in the future, im sure ill have the same situation happen to us down the line.

  5. Thanks Laks!

    Kim- Yes, my husband was in shock and I'm glad AJ wasn't sitting on his lap when it happened because he is definitely old enough to "get it." I guess I was just not raised that way. Even when I see a caucasian couple with say a Chinese child, I'd never question it. Families are formed in so many ways and no adoptive family needs to answer rude peoples inquiries:(

    Elisabeth- one persons easy is another persons hard, very hard. But it's just so odd people throw in their 2 cents without regard to the other persons feelings:(

    Jo- When my husband and I talked about it previously, we always said we would say we were his parents and never feel obligated to throw out that he was adopted or that he was a foster baby. We've just never had anyone not just leave it at that once we said that he was our son. Even when we were foster parents, we always just referred to him as our son because that's all he know. UNLESS we were at the Native hospital or something that legally required us to not state we were his parents but his foster parents.

    I just love that kid to death and want to protect his feelings!!

  6. So sorry you and your husband had to deal with that RUDE lady. Just know that there are far more people out there that think its great that you got to add that amazing little boy to your family. You are his momma, and your husband is his dad. Just tell the rude people where to go... and have fun enjoying both of your handsome little guys. :)

  7. Hi Brandi,

    I haven't been around for some time as we have had a lot going on (update coming soon!).

    It never ceases to amaze me the things that some people can say and it must have been terrible for your husband. I know there have been times when I have been out with Eden and have had "those looks" from people because she looks nothing like me, I even had one lady as "what is she?" and "has she got something in her" WTF???

    I think you just have to rise above other people ignorance. :o)

    Shel xx