August 6, 2008 - Questions

Ok, we get a lot of questions - the most common, "Are they twins?" I try to answer the curious questions graciously. I'm not known for my tactfulness but I figure if having a question answered makes them more comfortable with the next person with Down syndrome they meet - or helps them realize it's not such a tragedy if someone is born in their family - then that's a good thing, right? I also love to talk about my kids.

Over the course of the years, I have been asked if Caelia has Down syndrome in unique ways. I had a little boy ask if she was "retarded?" His mom tried to disappear but I wasn't really offended - I just told him that she has Down syndrome and that means she learns a bit slower. He was happy to continue playing with her - but he did slow down his instructions to her. My favorite was a cashier at Target who looked at the girls and asked if they were twins or did we get "special angels" twice.

We went out to eat with both girls this weekend - Michael was playing with a friend. Caelia sits pretty well while waiting for service - Lera tries to crawl under the table, lay down on the bench. etc. We sit in a corner whenever possible and contain the girls by sitting on either side so they don't escape and disturb other diners. On this particular outing, I heard a loud voice from the table across from us say - Oh! she's really pretty! I said, "thank you, so is her sister if she would come out from under the table", and continued coloring with Caelia. A few minutes later - right behind me I hear, "Are they twins?" and turned to see this woman had come across and was standing next to our table.

"No, they are 3 months apart. We just adopted Lera from Ukraine"
She looked at Caelia. "is she from Mongolia?" Ok - this is a new one.
"do you mean, mongoloid? She has Down syndrome, yes"
"She's pretty but the other one is prettier" (OMG!)pause "She doesn't understand me, right?" (which one? Caelia is looking at you like that because she just doesn't like you)
"Is it expensive to adopt?" - "you should go to Reeces Rainbow if you would like more information" (sorry, Andrea)
"Are they hard to keep?" (they're not dogs!!!!!)
"I would like to adopt one" --- "It's VERY expensive"
We paid our bill and tried to leave as quickly as possible before this woman was anymore offensive.

I didn't chew her out for two reasons. One, OMG!!!!!! I just couldn't register what she was saying and two, I serious began to wonder if she were "slow" herself and perhaps, no one had ever told her.

Not everyone is as enlightened as I would like to believe but this was the most obnoxious, that I can recall. Sorry for the negative post - I just couldn't wrap my brain around this person's perspective.


Mandy said...

Oh my goodness, you are too funny! "Slow and nobody told her" LOL
They do look alike BTW and they are BOTH adorable!

Randy and Sheila said...

Thank you, Mandy. Some members of our own family can't always tell a photo of Lera from one of Caelia if they are not side by side. I wasn't looking at which girl she said it to and I think they are both beautiful- I'm biased though.

Dolores said...

I love the "they're three months apart" comment, I think I'd just leave it at that and let them wrap their brains around it. LOL Like my daughter and her "virtual twins", one biracial, the other not-- three weeks apart. I think the person in your story is just very uneducated and it doesn't hurt to tell them the RIGHT words to use. The shock does cause us to pause, I understand! Your girls are BOTH beautiful!!!

Christine said...

"I serious began to wonder if she were "slow" herself and perhaps, no one had ever told her." How funny. I think you handled it very well.

Randy and Sheila said...

Thank you, Dolores. I am just naive in thinking that Americans are more enlightened that other countries in our treatment and acceptance of disabilities.

Randy and Sheila said...

Christine, thanks for the comment- I keep replaying it in my head wondering if I should have reacted differently - I feel like I should have socked the woman.

AZmomto8 said...

Poor woman swallowed her entire leg, did she turn inside out?

Honestly, we get the weird statements all the time. Being that I am Uhem, a little older, I get the "Are all three adopted" I tell them I gave birth to Meghan but the other two were adopted, but THEY ARE ALL my DAUGHTERS.

We have been to three doctors appointments and they think Amanda is "more affected" than Kara and Meghan, Ugh, I tell them it is because she just got home, still trying to learn a new language, it doe snot mean her IQ is lower.

No one will thank Kara and Amanda are twins, but they are only 5 months apart.

My all time favorite is "You must be a saint" I always laugh at that one, and tell them, honey, I am far from it, I just wanted to love two more little girls, so if anything, I am selfish...

schoolmother said...

I'm sorry Sheila.

Randy and Sheila said...

Aren't you sweet, Joy! I think that you develop a thick skin after a while because not everyone understands why you would adopt a child with special needs - or even adopt. Every once in a while, however, someone really floors you. I can laugh about it now that I vented to those who feel the same calling because they too can see how ridiculous her statements were. Thank you very much for listening to me kvetch.

Nikki~Down syndrome Storyteller said...

Wow, what a, well, let's just say highly tactless, uneducated woman! Your family is Beautiful!