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Tuesday, June 29, 2010

By the Milk

Last week I ran into this momma at the grocery store. She stood by the milk, talking with another woman. Although I don't know her all that well, I realized quickly, from looking at her body language and facial expressions, that these two women were acquaintances rather than close friends. And I figured that out because I recognized The Look.

It was the look of a person facing a crisis, who wanted to be anywhere else, but instead was talking with a kind, almost-stranger about a loved one's illness.

It brought back some really painful memories.

So I acted in a totally rude manner. I interrupted the conversation. I butted in. And I did it because I'd heard Ring and Rosie and Ring's sister talk all too often about how emotionally draining it was to hash and rehash medical treatments with every! single! person! you'd ever met. You feel you have to be polite... because people are asking because they truly care and want to help... but what is one conversation for that random acquaintance is conversation number 17 that week for the family in crisis.

It reminds me of my irritation when it comes to adoption conversations.

The person approaching the conversation doesn't realize that what they see as a brief and friendly exchange at the post office is actually Conversation Number 253 for the person on the receiving end. It is so very difficult to keep it together - to be patient, kind and gracious - when someone wants to discuss such a personal topic in public.

I wrote the momma a card and dropped it by the house a few days later. I wrote all of the heartfelt things one usually writes in a card such as that. I mean, really, there is absolutely no way to say "sorry your daughter has brain cancer." All one can do is to pray. And to help. I also shared with this momma that she might want to start carrying those cards around.

You know, cards that list the phone numbers of people organizing meals and other help. And possibly a URL (like CaringBridge) where the family updates everyone on their loved one's current treatment plan and condition. That way, when Random Acquaintance approaches them in the parking lot of the local grocery store, they can simply hand over a card and say, "thank you so much. I really have to go right now, but I so appreciate your offers to help/ concerns/ whatever. This card has all of the information that you need."

The momma loved the idea, so I'm making some for her soon.

And now I'm wondering if I need to make some for myself and for the Tongginator, for those random adoption conversations that crop up in the aisles of Target. Only what can I put on the card?


Now an Air Force Wife and Mommy!! said...


When you figure out what to put on your card please share :) I would love to make one now too!! (We are also in an transracial adoption and boy do we get some stares and rude comments/questions and I know some are sheer ignorances, but still just keep your mouth shut please!) Hmm...I'm thinking on my card I'll say "No, I'm not the baby sitter. Yes, that really is his father and I'm really his mother."

Its awesome you're making her the cards! I had never thought of that...I'm going to have to file that one in my mind (hopefully we don't ever need it).

Mia_h_n said...

I love the idea with the cards. A good way to avoid the draining conversations but still welcome people's heartfelt thoughts and prayers. Did you come up with the idea?

Your card? Hmm. I don't know. Are you even sure you want to share with randoms? Or was the question retorical?

PS. I think I might have been guilty of being one of those - albeit well-meaning - unaware people who asked you personal adoption questions. Sorry if that's the case. I don't think I kept digging, though...

Claudia said...

Nothing like as difficult as discussing an illness, but I remember when I was unemployed for a while acquaintances ALWAYS hit me with 'so, have you found a job yet?' even if they'd seen me the week before. And like you say, it was just a casual conversation for them, but for me, it meant that every time I saw someone I had to dig up all the stinkiness of being out of work. Can't imagine how much worse when it's an issue that's so much harder and deeper. I think the cards are an excellent idea.

bbmomof2boys said...

Great idea TM. Hopefully no one will be put off by it. Shame on them if they are, kwim?

Heh..your card? It should say "This is the Tongginator. Watch out"

Oh, wait, that is T's card!

Your card should say "Please pray for me because I am in big trouble when she hits her teens!"



Jenny said...

No idea what to put on the card, but I think you tend to be much more graceful than I am, so when you figure it out, let us all know!

Aus said...

Good morning TM - I'd offer some suggestions about what to put on the cards - but you'd blush....I can get pretty salty in my language sometimes!

hugs - aus and co.

Number 6 and no more counting! said...

my goodness, you are such a caring, thoughtful, sort.

I am always so shocked when I read on Blogs about the random adoption questions!


Sherri said...

Oh, I love you,TM! You're my kind of friend--one who really wants to help instead of just talking about helping, or creating a flurry while talking about helping. That was a terrific idea and a very hands-on way to relieve her from the same situation in the future when you aren't there to rescue her!

If you ever move to Alabama, I'll be your BFF.

Wanda said...

Jeepers - that's a clever idea. (Not too surprised you came up with it!)

And you especially would know exactly what your card should say. Not too much but enough to satisfy the inquiry. Again, really great idea!

I'll ber praying for this little one with brain cancer too. I can't even imagine it.

happygeek said...

I'm not totally sure what you could put on your card, other than "4 years and counting", but I do know of a family whose son has a rare (and very visible) illness. They get tired of explaining things, so they set up a blog explaining the illness and hand out a card with the website on it.
It is tiring explaining things to well meaning people. And having someone coordinate care makes all the difference in the world. At least it did to us.

snekcip said...

TM the Caringbridge site is just wonderful for families! It serves a wealth of support for families that are going thru similar journeys with their loved ones. It alleviates the numerous questions that well-meaning friends and families have. I have followed several families on this CB site and I encourage all of your followers to take a look at the site. These families covet prayers and uplifting messages. These families are mostly at the bedside of their loved ones for months on end and "CB" is their connection to the outside world.

What a wonderful act of giving TM. I will also keep this family in prayer.

The Hickels said...

Another similar site (that I have found to be more user-friendly) is www.carepages.com. We used it a few years back when we were going through our medical rough-patch with an extremely high risk pregnancy and sick premature baby.

Holly said...

for your cards...how about-
Mind your own business.
Thanks and have a blessed day!
hmmm. no?
Unless you truly want people to call you or look you up online..and I doubt you do since you've gone to all the trouble to hide your real identity on your blog, I'd ditch the cards..and offer REAL people that you think are interested in adoption and don't know where to turn, your email address with a short explanation about how you love to talk about adoption but just don't have time right then.
It's not an easy thing to handle all the time, but there really ARE people who are more than just nosey are rude and I always pray for discernment.

thegypsymama said...

I just LOVE how you think. I LOVE your heart. I LOVE your practical tangible ways of helping. I LOVE that you are so much more than lip service. I LOVE that you butt into things. LOVE LOVE LOVE it!

That is all.


Asher's gma said...

My grandson underwent brain surgery in Oct 2009, we also found out later that his tumor was malignant. At the time of surgery he was 11 months old. He underwent Proton radiation in Indiana for 6 weeks and at this point there is no sign of the tumor coming back. There is hope! I don't want to be another one of those that puts her nose where it doesn't belong but if she would like to contact someone that has been there and hear of a story that we are hoping will be a survivor story please let her know about my grandson. His website is http://aprayerforasher.blogspot.com and if she would like to contact me my email is bkokc00@gmail dot com . Just trying to help, i know how devastating it is..been there.

Asher's gma said...

Sorry forgot...my grandson also has a caringbridge site. My daughter updates on his progress there, and i started the blogspot site. His CB site is http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/asherrayreynolds

Debby said...

Yes, please share. What a great idea. So kind of you.
I am having a give a way. Hop on over and enter.

Debz said...

I like that idea, you could give them out at your disernment. The first thing I "plan" on saying if anyone asks me a direct adoption question is going to be "Why do you ask?"....I have it all planned in my head.....haven't had anyone ask yet though. That's a good thing.
As for your friend, I'm sure she appreciated you throwing her a life jacket by stopping to talk to her. Some people eh?

Sharie said...

I love this idea...my friend's son who is sick has a CarePage and she updates it when something is happening, otherwise we all know that everything is good unless we hear otherwise...whenever she posts or says he's doing well something goes wrong so we've all become superstitous.

Brenda said...

What about:

Yes, she is adopted.
Yes, she is lovely.
Yes, she is from China.

No, I don't know many details about her first (year).

No, you can not ask "how much it/she cost".
No, you can not ask "why she was left".
No, you can not ask any instrusive questions about adoption generally, or my lovely child specifically.

This would be tantamount to me asking you about which sexual position you and your spouse used to conceive your child. How many times you had sex before conception occured, and intimate details about the birth process.

Yes, adoption is that personal, and NO, I'm not prepared to have such an intimate, personal conversation with you today, or any other day.

Thank you for your interest in my family, and I wish you well.

Kristi said...

I'm not sure what the card should say, but if there is anyone that can come up with the right wording, I trust it is you.
And I sure could have used one on Sunday afternoon in the mountains...

The Byrd's Nest said...

You know...I was just thinking...have you noticed the way God is just tossing these people in your path? You may not agree but I think He is using you in a Mighty way my friend.

Chandra said...

Man, you have great ideas! I love Caring Bridge, hadn't ever thought of printing cards though. Excellent idea!
If I had printed cards during the time since our first adoption, it would say...Yes, my daughter/s is/are adopted. I love to talk adoption. However, this is not a good time. Please contact me at email or call my adoption agency #____. If they really want to talk, they will email or call. If not, oh well. If the questions were reguarding the next adoption...Yes, we are still waiting. This is not a good time to talk.

Half Gaelic, Half Garlic! said...

I am sure she appreciated you "butting in".....I think the cards are a brilliant idea. I am so devastated to hear about your friend's daughter..... how very sad. I will keep this family in my prayers.

As a side note, you need two sets of those cards for yourself. One for the random people that stop you in the stores and ask the inappropriate questions....and another set for the family memebers and friends who know that you are adopting again and contine to ask "When"

Have a wondeful holiday weekend~



k said...

remind me to call you when in need. you are amazing.