DEAR ABBY: May I comment on the letter from "Open-Minded in Pennsylvania" (3/6), the adoptive mother of a biracial child who asked for a witty comeback for strangers' comments/questions? This is a rare teaching moment! If a parent reacts with the slightest hint of displeasure, the child will think the parent is displeased with her/him.
We adopted a daughter of a different race 29 years ago. When I received comments/questions from acquaintances and strangers, my face would light up, and I'd respond, "Oh, we adopted her! She is Filipino! We are so blessed to have her in our lives!" Usually, the person would smile and say something positive. The rare times someone didn't, we would hurry on with a wave and a smile, and I would hug her close.
Our daughter has grown up proud of her ethnic background and knowing she's special. She is now married and the proud mother of two biracial children. -- JUDY IN TEXAS
DEAR JUDY: You handled the situation beautifully. I heard from a slew of adoptive parents after printing that letter. Let me share some of their comments:
DEAR ABBY: Thirty years ago, we adopted two baby girls of a different race from ours. Our adoption social worker gave us some insightful advice about what to do when someone made a bigoted or ignorant remark. She said:
"Always remember your child is watching you to see how she is supposed to feel about what has just happened. If you become upset and defensive, your children will feel that way too and begin to believe something is 'wrong' about them and your family. So take the role of teacher and educate the ignorant person. Keep it light, add humor if you can, and then chuckle later with your child and other family members about the silly dumbness of a few people in the world." It worked for us. -- ANTONIA, MOTHER OF TWO
DEAR ABBY: When my adopted son from Bogota, Colombia, was about 4 months old, we were shopping for groceries one day. A woman approached our cart and asked, "Where is he from?" I smiled and replied, "Heaven!" -- KATHY IN NEW YORK
DEAR ABBY: I employ a strategy I learned from your column. I face the questioner with a smile and say, "I am stunned that you would ask such a personal thing!" The look on the asker's face is priceless. And it makes it quite clear that I have no obligation to respond to anything someone may choose to ask. To that mother: Hold your head high, radiate pride in your precious child, and know all's right in your world. -- PAT IN THE NORTHWEST
DEAR ABBY: I have a wonderful grandchild of mixed race. When I'm asked insensitive questions like, "What is he?" I smile, hold him close, and respond, "He's PERFECT -- don't you think?" -- PROUD GRAN IN SOUTH CAROLINA