Rude, Curious, or Just Ignorant

I have four children. Active children. Not the kind of kids that sneak into a place unseen and unheard and two hours later someone comments – wow! I didn’t even know they were here. Those are not my kids.

As a result I am quite used to getting comments about our large family size (read that larger than the average 1.6 kids) and usually they don’t bother me or stand out to me much. “You must have your hands full.” or “My what a large family.” are standard statements I’ve heard many times. This time – this time however a woman made a comment that really stood out to me in that I had no idea how to respond.

The woman was near me as I was preparing to check out and said “Wow! You have a lot of kids.” I smiled, “Only four so far – you never know what God will send you!” (How could I not resist the chance to blow her mind if she thought four was A LOT of kids, right?)

She was still looking over my children and then, gesturing towards Micah, said, “Oh I see – you adopted this one didn’t you.” <insert blank, shocked stare here> Finally stammering out a response, “No – God has just blessed me with a diverse family.” I’m still wondering what else I could have possibly said.

I’m still wondering how I’m supposed to feel about that statement.

Offended? Sad? Annoyed definitely – I mean…I just keep thinking ‘What kind of question is that!?’

One implication is that it’s ok to have a larger-than-average family if you’re adopting. Or that families that adopt children are usually larger than normal? While I’ve seen that in action, I’d hardly say that’s a fact…it’s a rather odd assumption to make in fact.

Or because Micah’s skin tone is a shade darker than my other son, he’s not part of our family? How unfair.

And here’s the thing that bothers me about it the most I think – Let’s say for a second that it were true….Why would I differentiate between adopted and biological children? Does anyone really say “This is my daughter. And this is my adopted daughter.” Don’t they just say “These are my two daughters.” because they are all their children?

In the two cases of adoption within my immediate family it just isn’t something that is talked about all the time because it just isn’t something that matters at the heart of things. Family is family. Love is love.

And so I’m back to the original thought – why would a total stranger think it’s ok to ask about my children in such a personal manner anyway? There’s something about her question that bothers me that I just haven’t put my finger on to be able to articulate yet. Whether she was being rude, curious, or just ignorant I may never know.

About AngEngland

has written 423 posts in this blog.

Founder of Untrained Housewife, Editor-in-Chief of Blissfully Domestic (http://blissfullydomestic.com), mother of five, wife of one, and God-seeker always.

Comments

  1. says

    I’m never surprised with the amount of stupid people feel it’s okay to let fall out of their mouths.

    Or to spew ignorance without the slightest bit of embarrassment.

  2. says

    We have four also, one is my bonus daughter from my husband’s former marriage. I also get a lot of comments about the size of our family. At first, I was extremely annoyed at the insensitivity, but then I realized perhaps God was using us to impart His message. I loved this post. Thank you.

    • says

      I tell people all the time that our family is blessed – We love having a large family. You’re right though that it does tend to attract questions and comments.

      I grew up as the oldest of eight and thought I had heard it all…this was a definite first.

  3. says

    wow. i am speechless. i thought strangers always asking me how old i was when i started having children was bad. she was rude, curious, and ignorant! i can’t believe people sometimes.

  4. says

    Hmm…I would have to vote for rude or ignorant. Maybe both!

    Angela, I think your family and your devotion and love for your family is one of your best qualities. I’m so sorry that you had to deal with this.

    Don’t let comments from small-minded people like this get you down. In the grand scheme of things, she’s a little person with a small, closed mind. Sadly, she’ll probably never be any different and she’ll probably never understand why her comments were inappropriate.

    BTW, being childless myself, I’m probably one of the people who commented that you have “your hands full”…LOL

  5. says

    Ignorant AND rude. Some people are ignorant and have NO filter. It amazes me that people think these kind of things are appropriate to speak.

  6. says

    I applaude you for not being the rudest person ever to her because when it comes to your kids, all of them no matter how many or how little, how bright, dark, or color or shade, they are your kiddos. For that rude person, mind your own business, didnt your mother teach you not to be nosy in other people’s business. Your kids are beautiful. I only have been blessed with one. I am getting married next month and am hoping to start expanding my family soon.

    • says

      Congratulations on your pending marriage!

      I agree! I think that the fact that my children are naturally diverse is going to give them a much healthier attitude towards other people. It’s normal to them. As it should be to us all.

  7. says

    Yea, why would anyone ask that, especially in front of the kids? Maybe if you were away somewhere and showing a photo of your large family, they might ask if you adopted, but never, ever, point out a kid who’s standing right there and ask such a question. What are you supposed to say?? What if he was adopted and you had to answer that? Wouldn’t the child feel odd and singled out?

    Some people!!!!

    BTW, I think Micah has beautiful skin!!

    • says

      Maybe that’s a lot of it – that she asked me with the kids RIGHT THERE. It had the potential to raise some issues that two-year-olds don’t really need to deal with. Maybe that “kids can’t hear me” attitude I see so many adults with is part of the bad feeling I had about the situation.

  8. says

    I’m not sure what I’d label it either (other than that woman has no internal filter!), but I don’t think it’s anyone’s place to ask such questions of a stranger or someone they don’t know. I would be speechless probably!

  9. Sharon says

    I have four children, with one being adopted. When people ask me in front of her if she’s adopted, I have learned to change the subject without warning or apology. Otherwise there is serious danger of my child hearing (or even being pointedly TOLD) that I am not her *real* mom. Does that mean she’s not my *real* child? We’ve also been told that God never meant for her to exist in the first place.

    I have no idea how some people’s minds even work, much less how they come to the conclusion that it’s okay to say what they are thinking. But you are right…..your children are your children. That’s all that matters.

  10. says

    Having grown up bi-racial, very little surprises me in terms of the bizarre things people feel it’s ok to ask a total stranger. And I have been assumed to be the nanny on more than one occasion, despite that my daughter looks so much like me (except for skin color) that it’s eerie. I now am much more comfortable letting people know when they’ve asked a rude question.

    Being curious AND ignorant is still no excuse for being rude.

  11. says

    It’s clear to me that this woman didn’t choose you specially (as special as you are to ME) to make a rude comment to – I’ll bet she’s has more than one tongue wagging, LOL. What a crack up! My oldest daughter has very light skin and my other kids are dark (olive complexions)…this is hardly a strange phenomenon. But the same thing crossed my mind about the comment.

    What an utterly rude jerk to not only comment on how the children came to be yours (for the love of Pete), but in front of a child? HELLO. Dumb-ass.

  12. says

    Oh Ang.

    Wow. That just about all I can say is wow. When Kyla was small and we first moved into an apartment complex the landlord asked me “does she stay with you all the time?” I was so confused…I was like “Um, yes. She IS our daughter.” Turns out she assumed Kyla was Jon’s daughter and my step-daughter. I remember being floored. Totally floored. She went on to explain that Kyla looked nothing like me, so she just assumed she wasn’t mine. We now have a fair headed little girl and hear weird things often. I have been asked before if they were both Jon’s…in FRONT of the girls. I just grin and bear it, while silently screaming. Ignorance is everywhere.

    I love your family. Your beautiful children are just that…beautiful inside and out. Just like their parents.

    Ps. Who wants quiet kids anyway?

  13. says

    I don’t even mind curious. I would rather have someone talk with me than talk about me. Much prefer they ask directly than assume as they walked away, etc.

    The woman’s error was not in asking, but in asking in front of the children. That showed an amazing lack of judgement.

    Angela, you will find that your family is one small tool of witnessing to the world about Jesus and truth.

    The truth: Biblically children ARE a blessing and God doesn’t error. Our culture just has gotten things lost in the last 150 years, but the 6000 years of human history before that we “got it” with regard to children, with the exception of some barbaric cultures that sacrificed children as they had long strayed from God.

    Truth #2: your 4 children represent (in miniature) a living example of the genetic diversity possible between a Hispanic/Puerto Rican dad and an anglo/white mom. Think Genesis in living color!

    The challenge is this one was a new comment you were not ready for (it will not likely be the first time you hear something similar given where you live – not exactly a place used to diversity). So, like we have, you will begin to develop your little lexicon of come-backs. We have ours for the eight kids – depending on the person, situation and which silly comment they utter. We have ours for when they assume the Dad is the grandfather and the kids the grandchildren rather than is children. You will have yours too. At some points you might even just ward off potential ignorance/rude/or poor judgement with your own reply. (sort of the debate strategy – counter it before it comes up).

    So a future response, if you were in the mood, might be, “only four so far. Never know what God will do. I just love how Micah looks like his Daddy, Brianna looks like me, and Evan and Adam are a fun blend. Each one is so unique, special and God’s gift. Really cool”.

    It is like when I used to say extra loud in a restaurant, “Angela, would you hold your little sister”. It just shut people up who were trying to figure out if the baby was yours or mine (and some might have been foolish enough to ask me). It eased the situation before anything negative happened (that could embarrass you, or set me off!!)

  14. says

    WOW. The same thing happened to my friend who is your standard blonde haired blue eyed girl, and her husband is Filipino. One of her kids is blonde and blue, the other is tan with brown hair and brown eyes. A lady whispered “she must have adopted THAT one.” My friend kindly voiced “no, he just looks exactly like his father.” It is just amazing what people will assume, and voice to strangers. Its rude to say that in any circumstance, since what if the child IS adopted, and they don’t know? What then if you’re not ready for that talk? Curiosity…Rudeness…who knows…i think above all people need to adhere to manners.

  15. Melody Fielder Wong says

    I think she was ignorant.

    My son was born 8 weeks premature, the question I got was “What did you do wrong?” I didn’t. How could you ask someone that? I always answered, “He was in a hurray to get here. He was due on New Year’s eve, he wanted to make all the good holidays, so he made his entrance the morning of Halloween.”

    My husband is Chinese. I am German and English. I was often asked if I was the babysitter when we would be out and about. Often people would turn to my friend and tell her how beautiful her son was – while I was holding the baby, my son. She has a darker complexion, dark hair, dark eyes. People assumed she was the mom of the baby.

    I think people just want to say something and do not really think about how what they are about to say will REALLY be received.

    I think you have a beautiful family and that you have been blessed to have four children.

  16. tasha says

    That happens to me all the time with my youngest. I am african american and my husband is from honduras but his father is from spain and is mother is native of honduras. My husband looks like his father, palest skin you ever did see with jet black hair and dark dark brown eyes. Our youngest looks just like him while our oldest three look just like me. Now that the summer is here and she has a good tan she looks more south american. Yesterday I had a woman walk up to me and say “Wow you have a beautiful family.” After I thanked her she then says to me “I thought it took at least six years to adopt from El Salvador, how did you get yours so fast?” At first I was perplexed until I saw that she meant my baby. Some ppl are just plain ignorant and really don’t know any better. when she realized what she had done when I looked at her the way I can look at ppl sometimes when they need to be corrected without you saying a word, she immediately apologized. maybe the person in your experience just didn’t know any better. Poor thing.

  17. says

    I’m hispanic and my wife is…well, white. We gave birth to a red haired blue eyed kid and we get the “where did that red hair come from?” question all of the time. As if my child wasn’t really my child because he’s red hair and blue eyes. If people really thought through what they were saying they’d realize how insensitive they are…but you’re right, they don’t think, they just blurt…just like children!

  18. says

    I am a biracial child, my mother is white and my dad is black. My mother dealt with parents the refused to acknowledge her existence when she was with my day and when she did go to them for help it was always with a price. Thankfully my grandmother has since changed her ways and has become a really good grandmother, but even 29 years later I can remember the challenges my mom faced raising us. She also has 4 kids. I have a twin and two younger sisters and its funny cause my two younger sisters also have a darker complexion than me and my twin. I wonder if she ever faced a similar situation. In my opinion it was plain ignorance. People who are close-minded cant help but blurt out the stupidity that envelops their mind. Kudos to you for being a better person and not responding in anger. I believe that for the most part the world has changed for the better and that you and your kids will face less and less ignorance than I did growing up.

  19. Mavis says

    I agree with Karis, our society in general doesn’t believe children to be blessings but burdens and to have more than the “normal” amount is odd at best and a plaque to the earth at worst.

    We have a family of 6 ranging in ages from 21 down to 9 months. Although our oldest doesn’t live at home anymore he got the stares when he would hold his younger brother. When he was about 16 he was holding his baby brother and a woman said “Don’t you think you’re a little young to be having children?” I didn’t hear the comment or I would have come unglued…guess it’s a good thing I didn’t hear. :)

    Unfortunately, ignorant and insensitive people are everywhere. Take their comments with a grain of salt and know that YOU are doing what you is right for your family.

  20. Renee says

    Angela,

    I loved this post. It is insane what some people will say! I mean, I have a loud mouth and I have been known to speak my mind. However, what kind of person even asks that?

    We adopted a girl who is 9 months older than my son. When people ask their age, I always get a funny look! There has only been one person who let it come out “wow” and I do not think it was on purpose. So I then of course explained. However, I do not like having to explain! While most people who know us know everything that we went through, I do not want her being “adopted” to come up once a week, or even once a month for that matter :o)

    Thank you for your post!

  21. says

    I probably would have given her a heart attack if she were in line behind me, my 5 biracial children and my two black step sons in a grocery store LMBO! My husband and I took all 7 of them AND my stepsons little brother (8 kids) to Walmart one night and you should have seen the stares. People are so intrusive these days. I published an article about an experience I had similar to this one in which I wrote:

    I don’t go around asking other people if their kids belong to them… mainly because it’s irrelevant to me whether or not a stranger’s child was adopted or if they are babysitting. Is this imposing mentality a modern twist on a centuries-old racial “battle” in which these people feel that they have some kind of right to know and that we have no right to privacy?

    The Ridiculous Things We Get Asked

  22. says

    Interesting post. I also came from a family of four children and recall people making comments about our “very large family” when I was a child. However, my best friend had 19 brothers and sisters and my future husband, who was also a childhood friend, had six brothers and sisters. In our community there were many families with more children than mine, so I always found that comment a bit odd. Comments about challenges and the work involved in raising children don’t bother me. Comments about skin and hair color–those bother me. My younger sister had fine golden hair that looked like it was spun from silk from the sun and people always stopped to admire her…then asked if she was adopted. When she was two her hair started changing and it’s now the same reddish-brown as mine. My daughter has very pale skin, burns at the first hint of sunshine and has reddish-brown hair. She looks like the rest of my Irish clan. My son has dark skin and black curly hair. He looks like every member of his father’s Irish family. Oddly, I was also subjected to questions like, “Is she adopted?” and in one shocking moment, “Does she have a different father?” Really, could they be more offensive? Humans should have a “Stop and Think” button on their foreheads so you can push it when you see them starting to open their mouths.

  23. Chris Pascale says

    Also having 4, I find some odd comments, but not too often – they just stand out.

    For example, some strangers will ask in a round-about way if we married each other with kids from former marriages. We do think about adopting 2 more down the line – who will likely “look adopted” – but how about a little courtesy. 10 years from now when I walk into the grocery store with my (insert race different from mine) sons, they will be my children who happen to be adopted, not my adopted children. And, how embarrassing will it be if someone asks, ‘so they’re adopted?’ and I, instead, have to tell them, ‘no, I just blacked out one night doing drugs and 9 months later this one came. Fast forward a year, and I had another!’

    At family events, one of my uncles (who loves my girls) stops at some point and says to someone, “four girls,” almost as though he can feel the weight of raising them. At this I’ll jump in and say, “four girls so far.”

    Someone has to keep this family young!

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