ADOPTION: Blog Post #42, Chapter 30 – Behavior in Public
Recently I have shared some ‘non-book’ posts but today I’m returning to chapter excerpts from my book, ADOPTION: Encouragement and Advise for a Hopeful Journey. I hope you’ll enjoy reading this and it will pique your interest to purchase and read the whole book! Please SHARE with others who are adopting, fostering, or considering such a family ministry. I also suggest that every church library should have a copy of my book so pastors and leaders are informed of what is helpful, or not!
32. BEHAVIOR in PUBLIC
Without counsel, plans go awry, but in the multitude of counselors, they are established. Proverbs 15:22
Being out in public is a whole new ballgame for families with adopted children. If you thought your biological children embarrassed you, or caused you to well-up in uncontrolled anger while in public, just wait until you see what the good Lord has in store for your character-training now!
First, let me start out with the good news. Unless you live in the most backward of communities (or where population control by abortion is prevalent and desirable) most public outings with your adopted children will be pleasant, and people will typically compliment you on your beautiful children, asking “How do you do it?” or “Are they all yours?” Not once in all my years of mothering a large family, including adopted children with nearly every shade of the skin rainbow, has anyone ever made a blatantly racist or judgmental comment to me in front of my kids – thank you, Jesus! There have been a few questions that I had to steer into a positive direction with my answer, but I don’t think any of my kids have ever been publicly offended as we paraded around the zoo, or shopped with multiple carts of weekly groceries.
Second, my kids have embarrassed me a few times, but others nearby who witnessed it were gracious and helpful. My adopted children caused the same disasters that my biological children did. I have had a biological son vomit at Baskin-Robbins, and had an adopted daughter vomit in Bed, Bath, and Beyond! I have had kids urinate on the floor of the grocery store, and steal things at the hardware store. I have had kids ask questions in really loud voices like, “Mom, what is sex?” in the cash register line at 5 o’clock rush hour, and have had kids ask questions in really loud voices about handicapped people in line at the museum. And those were not the worst….
The worst, for me anyway, always involved a raging, emotionally out-of-control child. A child who was completely dysregulated—screaming, crying, cursing, hitting, kicking, resisting—anything they could do to gain control by being out-of-control! It has happened at the grocery store, at the doctor, at church, at restaurants—you name it. In the beginning, my husband and I would do things that escalated the problem. As time wore on, we could see and sense that bad was going to turn to worse, and we learned to diffuse the situation to prevent a total eruption. Often it meant leaving half-way through a meal, leaving a full cart of merchandise in the aisle, asking the medical provider to leave the room for a few minutes, or one of us sitting in the car with a child while the rest of the family continued on with worship until church was over.
It seemed that the worst of these happened on days where we had tried to do too many things, and on a traumatic holiday like Mother’s Day. The delay in our usual mealtime, or trying to correct a child on too many issues instead of picking the important battles, always made it worse. Major melt-downs often happened when only one parent was there, both parents were present but tired and cranky, or one parent was goading the other instead of working together as a team.
We learned to recognize the warning signs, remain calm, and gently deal with the issue at hand. This kept our sanity, the kids learned coping skills, and we all survived. Once in a while, there still is an incident which catches me off-guard, usually if I have fallen into the trap of thinking that by now all my children are normalized, and therefore no worries. All these years of living, yet I still have to remind myself our family has ‘special’ kids so we need to take precautions other families don’t. My early warning radar still has to be on alert, just not on ‘high’ alert anymore.
These are precautions worth consideration when taking your adopted child out in public:
(Chapter continues in book.)