When we returned home to Long Island with our Vietnamese born ten month-old son, we had lots of visitors.
Our friend Jeff sat on the couch holding Lucas in his arms. Jeff looked up at John and me.
"When he speaks will it be in English or Vietnamese?" he wanted to know.
One may find it difficult to believe that my husband and me were asked this question. Amazingly, it was asked by more than one person! And yes, the question was posed to us by adults with educations and jobs and the abilities to run their lives!
We must assume there is a misconception out there, shared by more than a few, that language is something inborn or so deeply etched in the brain from birth on that it can't be forgotten. The fact that my son had been spoken Vietnamese to and heard this language for the first ten months of his life was enough for some people to imagine that this language would be the one he would attempt communication with us months later when he began to talk.
As adoptive parents we're often asked some strange questions. This one made me laugh a little. It's a question that just doesn't apply to a foreign-born baby who really isn't verbalizing yet. To think that when Lucas began to speak he wouldn't be parroting back whatever words we were speaking and teaching to him is a little funny. Children learn to speak what they are taught.
Had he been speaking at all, he may have been using some very basic Vietnamese words at ten months-old. But, we found he really didn't say much.
Yet, he caught on to English well, even though we were told by his doctors to get him some early intervention with the language.
Thinking about the myriad of things people have said about my adopted child has given me insight into people's prejudices, ignorance and misconceptions--including my own. It's not a bad thing to realize that human beings just don't know certain things if they've never been exposed to them. But I believe within us all is a desire for understanding about all kinds of things.
Just ask anybody what he or she thinks about any topic. Even if he doesn't know much, he'll likely give you some sort of an opinion. Everyone likes to have a little bit of a grasp on things--whether it's a political issue or the subject of God or any number of topics--even if they don't have all the facts or information necessary to make an accurate assessment of it all.
I have to remember the teachers I've had who said, "There's no such thing as a stupid question," when it comes to others questioning me about my kids. In those classes I felt reassured that in my genuine desire to understand something I didn't have to fear looking foolish or just plain dumb by asking a question that may have been apparent to nearly everyone else.
Unfortunately, I've also had teachers, primarily in Catholic school that discouraged questions. For instance, when I wanted to know things about God or the Bible--like more information about the sixty "mortal" and "venial" sins we had to memorize at the age of ten for the sacrament of Confirmation--I found myself abruptly silenced as though I were an impudent heretic. I distinctly remember the humiliation I felt for asking a "wrong" question, and therefore need to give grace to those who ask of me silly or uncomfortable questions. And I should give answers, even if that's difficult.
I know that it can be terribly frustrating to ask a question that never gets answered. I remember asking my mom when I was seven years-old, "Mommy, why does Janie pull her hair out?"
How does a mother explain trichotillomania to a second-grader? But I persisted, "Does she pull it out one at a time or all together?" Obviously uncomfortable and maybe not sure herself back then when this kind of condition wasn't as well known as today, she didn't provide an answer. I can still remember our little exchange so many years later and the thought I had asked a BAD question.
With all these situations as part of my own experience, as an adoptive mom I've got to give grace to others and their questions even when they seem silly or unworthy of an answer.
America, Land of Condemnation (Part Three)
4/15/2021 1:00:00 PM by: Christine
America, Land of Condemnation (Part Two)
4/6/2021 1:01:00 PM by: Christine
America, Land of Condemnation (Part One)
3/24/2021 1:55:00 PM by: Christine
Government's Desperate Need for Humility
3/11/2021 12:21:00 PM by: Christine
Is the Church Changing?
1/19/2020 10:55:00 AM by: Christine
What Are Our Values Anymore?
11/22/2019 7:29:00 AM by: Christine
The Final Frontier (Part Two)
9/4/2019 10:10:00 AM by: Christine
The Final Frontier (Part One)
7/29/2019 9:00:00 AM by: Christine
4/30/2019 5:00:00 AM by: Christine
The Colors of a Writer
12/29/2018 5:00:00 AM by: Christine
What's Not to Get About the Writing Life?
4/18/2018 1:24:00 AM by: Christine
Learning to Sing the Song of Winter
12/10/2017 by: Christine
Perspectives & the Second Half of the 10 Commandments of Conflict
8/25/2017 9:57:00 PM by: Christine
Perspectives & 5 of the 10 Commandments of Conflict
5/2/2017 by: Christine
Run Writer Run! Make Music with Your Words
2/15/2017 5:30:00 PM by: Christine
Mom, the Fishstetrician
10/14/2016 by: Christine
The CONSTITUTION For President
6/5/2016 3:41:00 PM by: Christine
The Radicalization of Hillary and the Democrat Party (PART 2 OF 2)
4/16/2016 12:00:01 AM by: Christine
The Radicalization of Hillary and the Democrat Party (PART 1 OF 2)
4/15/2016 2:51:12 PM by: Christine
Why Ted Cruz NOW?
3/19/2016 12:26:00 AM by: Christine
Why is the GOP Committing Suicide?
3/14/2016 12:30:25 AM by: Christine
3/12/2016 9:36:14 PM by: Christine
Does God Give Us More Than We Can Handle?
2/29/2016 10:08:29 PM by: Christine
That Unanswered GOP Debate Question
1/9/2016 12:00:01 AM by: Christine
12/31/2015 3:04:50 PM by: Christine
Fractured Nation (2 of 2)
11/14/2015 8:42:06 AM by: Christine
Fractured Nation (1 of 2)
11/11/2015 11:04:35 AM by: Christine
What is Orphan Sunday?
11/8/2015 12:00:01 AM by: Christine
November's Gratitude and Longing
11/4/2015 8:30:39 PM by: Christine
Losing a Child is Like...
9/12/2015 12:00:01 AM by: Christine
Finding God in a Tenement
9/3/2015 12:00:01 AM by: Christine
Doing School in the 21st Century
8/22/2015 12:00:01 AM by: Christine
Superstition vs. Planned Parenthood
8/19/2015 12:00:01 AM by: Christine
Addicted to Giving Birth?
4/21/2015 12:00:01 AM by: Christine
Why We Should Have "The Talk" Before Marriage
3/20/2015 12:00:01 AM by: Christine
Adoptive Parents "Hypersensitive" & "Selfish?"
3/12/2015 12:00:01 AM by: Christine
What's So Wrong With Calling It "Gotcha Day!"
2/26/2015 12:00:01 AM by: Christine
How God Connected the Dots
2/7/2015 12:00:01 AM by: Christine
Exposure of Transracially Adopted Kids to Their Races a Bad Thing?
2/2/2015 12:00:01 AM by: Christine
Out With The Old
1/12/2015 12:00:01 AM by: Christine
Those Who Scoff at International Adoption
8/16/2014 12:00:01 AM by: Christine
Setting Aside Birth Story Facts for Truth
7/31/2014 12:00:01 AM by: Christine
Sneak Peak, "How much did you pay for her?"
6/11/2014 12:00:01 AM by: Christine
Blessing Through Adoption Pain
5/16/2014 12:00:01 AM by: Christine
Eight Ways Publishing Your Book is Like an Adoption Journey
2/23/2014 12:00:01 AM by: Christine
2/17/2014 12:00:01 AM by: Christine
It's a Boy
2/8/2014 12:00:01 AM by: Christine
Thoughts of Her
2/1/2014 12:00:01 AM by: Christine
To My Son
1/30/2014 12:00:01 AM by: Christine
1/25/2014 12:00:01 AM by: Christine
Minority Against Minority
1/12/2014 12:00:01 AM by: Christine
Happy New Year!
12/30/2013 12:00:01 AM by: Christine
11/25/2013 12:00:01 AM by: Christine
You ARE my mother?
11/10/2013 12:00:01 AM by: Christine
The Transracially Adopted Children's Bill of Rights and Some Thoughts
11/3/2013 12:00:01 AM by: Christine
10/19/2013 12:00:01 AM by: Christine
Will He Speak English?
10/11/2013 12:00:01 AM by: Christine
10/5/2013 12:00:01 AM by: Christine
What's in a Name?
9/30/2013 12:00:01 AM by: Vhristine
An Adoptive Mom's Message to Those in the Healthcare and Education Professions
9/25/2013 12:00:01 AM by: Christine
9/11/2013 12:00:01 AM by: Christine
When We Are Weary
9/1/2013 12:00:01 AM by: Christine
8/24/2013 12:00:01 AM by: Chrisrine
A Fresh Start
8/22/2013 12:00:01 AM by: Christine
God Works Behind the Scenes
8/13/2013 12:00:01 AM by: Christine
Why Adoption Requires Forgiveness
7/28/2013 12:00:01 AM by: Christine
Dust Bunnies and Poo
7/19/2013 12:00:01 AM by: Christine
7/13/2013 12:00:01 AM by: Christine
Forgiveness is Work
7/9/2013 12:00:01 AM by: Christine
An Answer to Prayer, Part Three
7/3/2013 12:00:01 AM by: Christine
An Answer to Prayer, Part Two
6/27/2013 12:00:01 AM by: Christine
An Answer to Prayer, Part One
6/22/2013 12:00:01 AM by: Christine
Are They Really Brother and Sister?
6/16/2013 12:00:01 AM by: Christine
Infertility's Not Fair
6/13/2013 12:00:01 AM by: Christine
Has He Ever Eaten a Dog?
6/11/2013 12:00:01 AM by: Christine
Sometimes We Fail
6/9/2013 12:00:01 AM by: Christine