Adoptive Mom Pet Peeve

Up until now, I have considered myself a fairly new adoptive mom.  This week, however, I realized I have a new pet peeve.  I think that having a pet peeve officially moves me out of the “new mom” phase.

Boundaries.  Oh my goodness, boundaries.  They are important, people!

Most mothers know that it can be awkward when you are pregnant and strangers feel like they can come put their hands on your stomach.  Then there are always those people in the grocery store that seem to think they can touch your baby.  I always hated that. Bringing home Hannah, though, I have seen a new level of people demonstrating lack of boundaries.

I really don’t mind the intrusive questions.  I feel passionate about adoption, and I will happily talk anyone’s ear off that asks me friendly questions.  I do feel like it is crossing a boundary, however, to start telling me why I should have adopted from the United States rather than from China.

Worse than that are the people that seem to think it is fine to touch Hannah. When out in public, I have had multiple strangers tell me how cute she is and then touch her face, grab her hands, or even try to hug her.  Three times now someone has actually PICKED HER UP.  That is not okay!  I have been thinking about this all day, and there just has to be something about Hannah being obviously adopted that makes people feel like it is okay to do this.  I have never had a stranger try to hug or pick up any of my other children.

I would be curious to hear if you other adoptive moms out there are experiencing this.  Is my adopted child somehow viewed as less “mine” than my biological children that makes people feel like they can take more liberty with her?


Or maybe it is just her crazy cuteness? 🙂

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27 Responses to Adoptive Mom Pet Peeve

  1. Jonathan says:

    I’m going with the ‘crazy cuteness’ one.

  2. Heather Bare says:

    Emily, I have no idea, since I’m not there yet, but I will definitely take this to heart….and by the way, what do you plan to try and do about it (especially the picking up part??) Hannah is adorable!!

  3. vanessa says:

    I don’t really know, I am not an adoptive mom even though I have seriously contemplated it in the past. Maybe it is due to an feeling of compassion strangers feel towards her journey. Wanting her to feel extra loved? It could also be the extra cuteness LOL she is super adorable…

  4. Karen Naide says:

    Gotta be the crazy cuteness. I mean come on, just look at her!

    I agree that boundaries are important, and people should NEVER touch your child without asking. My sister-in-law has very curly hair, and adults always used to pat her head when she was young… now she can’t stand having anybody touch her head as a result. Hang in there though… she’s a happy, cute, healthy child and that’s really what is important.

  5. Bill Lin says:

    I can’t say for certain, but my instinct is that it’s that your daughter is insanely cute. My oldest son was crazy cute as well (I’m Chinese, my wife’s Caucasian), and strangers would want to hold him all the time, though I can’t recall a time someone actually did so without my permission – possibly because I’m a guy and don’t look particularly friendly. I remember being in an airport when an older gent struck up a conversation as I was holding my son, commenting on how adorable he was, then he did that “come to grandpa” movement where he clapped his hands and held out his arms to my boy, as a cue for me to hand him over. I just stared at him until he dropped his arms. I was NOT about to hand my 1 year old son to a random stranger, and I was flabbergasted as you were that someone would actually try!

  6. ehilimire says:

    Heather, so far I haven’t had a great response. I don’t know why I have continued to be shocked by it each time it has happened. I guess I need to come up with a standard good retort. 🙂

  7. Aimee Small says:

    Crazy cuteness. Without a doubt.

  8. crazy cuteness is my guess:) says:

    My guess is her crazy cuteness:)

  9. Mary Hollowell says:

    I think it might be “the China doll stereotype” – from another adoptive mom

  10. Maggie Buerger says:

    I don’t have children of my own, so I feel blessed that there are so many beautiful children to make a fuss over. I notice every baby and toddler in public places, especially stores. I would NEVER pick up a stranger’s child! There are just too many weirdos. There’s admiration and then there’s overstepping boundaries. Many thanks to you and Jeff for sharing stories about Hannah and all of your adorable children. I love reading this blog.

  11. Howard Montgomerhy says:

    Your passion for adoption is shared wholeheartedly. I have a wonderful adopted grandson from Peru (now a senior in college), and a lovely granddaughter from Nepal (now a second-year college student). They have blessed our lives trmendously.

  12. Megan Powell says:

    Interesting. I have found that as my children born in China get older, we get less hands on and comments from strangers. However, baby Z always gets lots of comments, but no one has ever tried to pick her up. She always get lots of “she is sooo cute.” and she is. I still wonder if we would get as many comments if she wasn’t Chinese. She has an obvious physical “disability” missing her arm, but I wonder if the number of comments we get is because she is Chinese, and if she wasn’t, people wouldn’t feel the urge to comment on her cuteness. The picking up is not good and not acceptable, however, I try to always not take offense and understand that the person means good. It gets harder as the children do get older and people have asked, right in front of my kids, “are they foster children???” Really??? If they were, none of your business. But, again, I try to view the situation as a positive and not as offensive, which so far, has never happened yet, only good kindhearted people. And, H really is a cutie pie, so of course people can’t help from commenting.

  13. Sarah Cook says:

    We get the same question. I have found the reply, “They are all God’s children, aren’t they?” pretty effective!

  14. Lynn says:

    whoa – you’ve struck a chord with me, Emily! (sorry i’m behind in reading your blog!) My most recent pet peeve is “are your girls sisters?” ugh! “Yes, but not biological” is my answer. “…well that’s what i meant” is the light and flippant response, to which i just smile. argh.
    When C came home, she gave a whack at/towards anyone who tried to touch her – so i always had to stifle a laugh while grabbing her arm before it made contact. I don’t know if she was protecting herself or me or both but they got the message. I don’t know the answer to this when strangers (OR others) are so fwd.

    I do have 2 other comebacks for when they at least ask a question:
    To the ‘where is she from’ or, arg, ‘how do you get her’ or those other icky impersonal questions i have learned “I would be glad to tell you about our family, but I’d love to hear about yours first.”
    To the ‘give me a hug’ or ‘can i hug/hold you?’ i often pull back E or C’s hand i might be holding so she’s closer to me or even step slightly btwn the needy person (often a friend or family member!) and my daughter. Then i say “C, do you have a hug to give [anyone] today?” Or “Can Ms X hold you for a moment?” Hugs are hers to give – not something someone takes….there’s a whole long child protection thing in here I could go off on :-} I may be embarrassed for a second if she doesn’t want to hug this friend or family member, but it’s my daughters’ decision as to who gets a hug…even if she is 2.
    I often think some adults are just…well…stupid. A child is a person. I’m not being flippant or prudish, but would they like it if an admiring person just came up and patted them on the head or tried to hug them?
    sorry…didn’t mean to go off!
    H *IS* crazy cute!…i can tell she has blessed yall AND yall have blessed her!

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  16. Julia says:

    It is because you are living in a western country. I am eurasian and walked with an adopted chinese baby girl on the streets of Hong Kong. Nobody ever went for the child…touching or her picking up. No sidelong glances. Nothing. It was obvious the child was not ours (my husband is 100% caucasian). My sons are blonde haired and I notice Asians did the same thing with them when not in an heavy expat spot like Singapore or HK. Touch them, pick them up etc. It is the novelty factor.

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