Dealing With Insensitive Comments – One Parent’s Approach

Adoption STAR CEO Michele Fried encourages staff to stay fully informed when it comes to current adoption-related stories, themes and trends. With that in mind, she routinely sends e-mails to staff when she comes across an adoption article, report, or blog post that she thinks may have value for the staff or encourage some interesting discussion.

A few weeks back, Michele sent staff this link via e-mail.

Michele also asked the staff, “what are your thoughts on this article?” Several staff members responded, and here’s what they had to say:

Megan Montgomery, International Adoption Coordinator – “Amazing and shocking what people will say in front of children. I do think that sometimes questions, while they sound bad, are just people being curious. However, many of these statements sound downright mean-spirited. Not sure how I feel about the mom showcasing her children like this, but I could be considered overprotective.”

Sue Reardon, Adoptive Parent Mentor and Coach – “My question (before reading) was how did the girls feel about the project? It sounds like they were very much in favor of it, and I didn’t see it as exploitation. As a mom, I try to handle ignorant and insensitive comments with grace, but that’s not always easy. But I agree with Meg – most questions are just based in curiosity. However, I can think of dozens of scenarios that I am “curious” about, yet I recognize that asking a stranger these questions is not appropriate. Most people just don’t realize how inappropriate and insensitive they sound.”

Chris Fancher, Post Adoption Correspondence/Office Support – “I feel that these pictures definitely shock the viewers into seeing how insensitive and downright rude many comments are. In this sense, the project is a success. However, in actually trying to correct this problem, these pictures do very little. As advocates for adoption, it should be the goal to talk about adoption positively. These pictures define that a problem does exist (the insensitivity of people in talking about adoption in today’s world), however it does not show how to appropriately ask and communicate about adoption. I feel that in addition to pointing out the problems, this project should also show solutions to the problems (for example, what else could be said that isn’t so insensitive). I did find the pictures to be extremely meaningful and definitely provoke a problem that needs discussion in the realm of adoption.”

Zack Fried, Client Relationship Manager – “These three (the children and their mother) seem to be quite strong, and appear to be handling the ignorant comments that come in an effective way. Kim makes a wonderful statement by not wanting her children to internalize what is being said to or in front of them. This proves she knows it is always her role as a mother to talk about the comments with her daughters, and help them respond in an appropriate manner. LOVE the humor used by Lily when she asked someone if they gave birth to their husband! The children (as well as the situation) do not appear to be exploited here, as the children are very much a part of the project and are in full support. They are at ages where their voice can be heard on the subject, and kudos to them for having positive self-images when it comes to their adoption stories. As an adoptee, this was empowering to read as one can never predict when these ignorant comments are going to pop up.”