Tuesday, July 2, 2013

On Display

One thing is for certain...

we don't blend in.

No matter where we are,
what we are doing, 
we stand out.

It has been a mixed blessing.


Sometimes we want to just go places and enjoy our children and not look different than other families.

But the truth is
an older caucasian couple with 11 Chinese children
 just doesn't blend in... anywhere... at all...

We try to take our children places and enjoy life just like any other family.
We want them to get many experiences in life and so we do not let our large size stop us.

Sometimes we are smiled at, nodded at, and given the thumbs up.
While other times we are stared at, pointed at and loudly talked about as if we aren't even there.
The children come up to me and say 
"Mom they're staring at us."
"Mom I can hear them talking about us."

At first it made them very uncomfortable.
We just told them to smile back, ignore and move on.
It's also a good lesson for the children not to stare at others who are different or disabled.
(Which is hard for them to do. The children have a tendency to want to stare at others.)
It doesn't seem to bother them as much now.
They are taking it more in stride.

On the other hand Sam will strike up a conversation with anybody that so much as glances his way.
He will share with them our "adoption plans" whether they have asked or not!
He is pretty psyched to get 2 more boys in this family!

People show us their feelings about us "outwardly".
Some rejoice with us and marvel over these blessings of ours.
While others frown and are inconvenienced by us even being near them.

The larger we get the more we notice it...

When walking through C*stco I see people counting the number of children that are with me.
I usually just walk by with a smile and say there's eleven!

When we go to a restaurant for the first time.
I know the people at the restaurant are concerned.

Which waitress will have to take "that" table.
Let's get them in and out fast.
Do they dare sit anyone else next to us?

While at the restaurant-
anyone who sits next to us basically discusses our family throughout their meal.

We ALWAYS surprise them!
( I love surprising them!)
The kids are so well behaved at restaurants!
The waitress always comments regarding how well behaved the children were!
I always get the order all organized before we place it.
I like to make her job easy and take away whatever stress can be taken away.
Every place we go we are invited back!

The other day we walked around a nearby lake. It was 2.2 mile walk and 74 degrees with a breeze.
Absolutely perfect!

We got many smiles and nods from others! 
And we ran into two old friends!

At the beginning of the walk Emma strayed into the bike path.
The bikers that ride there are serious bikers and they were going fast.
I pulled her out of the way so she did not get hit by an oncoming bike and then tried to tell her 
she could not walk up there. 
Emma is a wonderful girl but she did not want to listen to me. 
My point was for her safety and for the bikers safety 
(There was a 12 yr old boy biking towards Emma. He was with his Dad and they were moving fast.)

Her cognitive disability makes it challenging to reason with her.
She gave me a look and pulled away.
Once again, I told her why she could not go there and that she needed to stay with us and walk on the walking path.

Now she was mad at me and refusing to walk with us.

Hubby told her 3 times 
"Emma walk in front of us so we can see you."

She refused and wanted nothing to do with us or our words.
We decided to just keep walking and focus on the positive.
(Knowing Emma would not be far behind us- she never is.)

We all went on and enjoyed our time while Emma lagged 50 ft behind us, 
but now she was crying.

There were hundreds of people around us.
One person saw the interaction and misinterpreted the situation.
They called 911 and reported us...
I am sure they were well meaning,



Now this is the kind of attention, I can do without...

We ran into a friend and visited. Emma caught up and decided she would walk with us now.
She was done being mad and sad.

We continued to walk and half way around the lake a squad car pulls up.
We meet eyes,  we nod,  we smile and we continue walking, 
until he says...
I am actually here for 

"Okay, what's going on?" We say.
Someone called and said you were "mad at your child".
So I'm here to check it out.
We were completely surprised BUT truth be told, after 50 something years of living life we have seen some pretty strange things happen...
Now we can add this to the list!

The officer was really nice and respectful to us.
He asked what happened and we said our daughter was disobedient but we didn't go into detail and he didn't ask us to.
I am guessing he watched us for awhile before stopping us, 
kinda creepy, 
but that's life...
We chatted with him for a short while and yes, of course Sam spontaneously had a conversation with him... and then shared our adoption plan...
That's our Sammy!

Turns out he was from a big family of 19. 
Counting his 6 siblings and all the foster children.
As he left he wished us well.

I wish incidences like this would role off my back but they don't...
First I have to process 
what on earth just happened 
and then
 I have to give it to God in prayer.
He heals me quickly!
Thank goodness!

After our walk we went to a malt shoppe for lunch!

And yes, the children did great!
The waitress complimented the children.
The people that sat next to us
talked about us.
And we were in and out quite quickly!

(All pictures are from our visit to the zoo and have nothing to do with the post.)


Lori said...

Oh my GOSH. What a wild story. And I would have been SO DANG MAD! I cannot imagine anyone calling the police for that. Geeeeee. This is the world we live in now, I guess. Thank goodness for such a REASONABLE cop. And so cool that he came from a big family.

Keep being the GREAT parents that you are!

From the Erben Gang..... said...

Really Crazy. But I have learned that people will continue to surprise me-with their craziness, kindness etc. YOU continue to surprise me-amaze me. I learn from you every day. xxoo

Julie said...

I am sorry that happened to your family. I'm afraid I might be one that would count and talk about your family if I lived near you. While my intention would be good: I wish we could adopt, I'm envious of large families, and your dedication to your children is an inspiration; the end result would be you being talked about again. Thank you for sharing this so I might be mindful to never do that to others.

Janet and Kevin said...

Oh Jean, I am so sorry someone called 911 on your precious family. You handled it with such grace. Good for you!

janet and gang

csmith said...

We also get a lot of attention with our 10, I think mostly because we have a lot of redheads and they seem to draw lots of stares. Most of my kids are very outgoing and don't mind it, but one daughter in particular hates being stared at. She sometimes tries to talk one or more siblings into staying home so we don't have to take our big van. When we're out I try to keep her distracted by letting her help with one of the babies (which she loves), but it's a work in progress. It's ridiculous that someone called the police about you! I'm quite sure you were not screaming at your child or being abusive in any way.

kristin said...

I grew up in a family of 11 and we got counted too. I have to tell you, a month or so ago my sister-in-law (who loves my kids and who has 12 kids) told me she saw the most wonderful thing. She saw this lady going into a store with about 10 Chinese kids with her. :) It was you. She was so impressed when I told her about your family.

Eileen said...

One evening when I was living in an apartment with my wife and two children, we put my 4 year old son to bed. We had a policy that once he was in bed he needed to stay there once his necessities-- drink of water, bathroom, prayers etc.. were completed. That evening he decided he didn't want to go to sleep and began hitting the door saying let me out I don't want to go to bed. We reassured him and he settled down and went to sleep after about 10 minutes. An hour later after we all had gone to bed, there was a knock on our door and two policemen ask to see our children and wanted to know who was being "disciplined". We quietly opened the door of their bedroom and they shined flashlights on each of the children inspecting them for bruises. We learned that our downstairs neighbors had called the police. My wife was mortified. We spoke with the neighbors the next day and told them that we appreciated their concern, but there was truly no abuse occurring. It was readily apparent from their expressions that they didn't believe us. We felt like we were walking on eggshells the rest of the time we lived in that apartment. I think people generally mean well, but their good intentions often manifest in odd ways. With our two adopted children, we do get the occasional odd look as well. You have a wonderful family. Best Wishes.

susan nichols said...

I am so sorry that this happened to you and your wonderful family. We take in and adopt medically fragile children domestically and get all the same responses you do. (are you with a school? Are they all yours? You don't have them all out by yourself do you?) We have also had a few referrals called in on us over the years as well. We live on a farm and have goats and one person had called in because we feed our children goats milk!!! Another because we let one of our wheel chair bound children play on the floor if they ask to. (the person that called in thought it was degrading) The child likes to play on the floor sometimes and get out of their chair. Sigh. God is so good. We have always been protected from these few false things. But it does indeed hurt and make me very sad. Praise God He always encourages me and helps us. God is so good and it is Him we will have to stand before on judgment day. I pray I am worthy. Blessings!

Stephanie M said...

Wow, wow, WOW! You are so amazing to share all this with us. I am a little embarrassed to admit, even though we have a "larger" family and are waiting on two more from China, that if I saw you in public it would be hard for me to hide the joy, amazement and excitement I would have seeing a family like yours! We have already dealt with unnecessary comments about our adoption plans - like when our Dr. showed his displeasure by saying "How many kids do you think you need??" Thankfully, the Lord has allowed me to let comments roll off my back - because I know His plans are bigger and better - and that we are in His will! You are right - give it to God!!! Blessings to you Jean!! You inspire me.

Sarah said...

I'm always amazed by people's questions/comments and we only have six kids! You handle it wonderfully!


likeschocolate said...

Interesting how something so simple as saying no ends up with a visit from the police. What is happening to this world. While I may give your family a glance, I know better than to discuss your family situation in hearing distance of the children. What happened to good old manners. I think it is natural to be curious. Heck, if we weren't in the process of adopting I would pay you to spend the day with your family. I would love to see how you run your house. I am sure I could learn a few things from you!

Old Oak Press said...

This is a crazy world. Even though I only have 3, we get stares b/c my Chinese son is missing part of his arm. I totally relate to getting "thumbs up" or the "frowns". My kids are usually really good in public too! On the one hand, kids aren't valued in our society, on the other hand, how dare you not indulge your child when they disobey! Thanks for sharing this- you have a beautiful family!

Rebecca said...

Wow... I can only imagine how mortified you were. And annoyed with the people who called 911. It's unfortunate. So many people out there truly not being good parents and many other people out there overreacting to good parents. I'm sorry you were misunderstood... There's nothing worse.

Jolene said...

That kind of stuff scares me! I'm glad it ended well for you all but seriously, that is just wrong.

One question....how do you organize things for the waitress? Do you decide for the children who is having what? Do they get to pick what they eat?

We let our kiddos pick (within reason) but I would love to know how to reduce the chaos of ordering!

Hanna said...

Beautiful pictures! Someone rang 911 to report you?!! Lucky the cop was nice and understanding :)

Judy Deaton said...

Seriously!?? That's crazy! The police had better hang out at W*l-Mart on a permanent basis then! I hear parents screaming profanities at their kids there on a regular basis.

Love Sams input!ha ha, I'm sure people stare partly because your family is so beautiful:)

We only have 4 kids and still get stared at because 2 are Chinese, and we are using sign language. Honestly, I would probably stare too....I love people watching and trying to figure out the situation.....but I would never intrude, and try not to be too obvious......a good pair of dark sunglasses work well:)hee hee.

Love the graceful way you handled it! If all Christians would use more grace, we would shine a better light. (note to self)

Janet said...

We get counted, and there's only 6 at home. I would not be surprised if we get a visit from officials at some point. SOme of our kid's emotional meltdowns can be heard out at the mailbox. And I have been given "the look" when I have "let" the blind children run into things, or step off a curb, in order to teach them to rely more on their cane...and not me.
Crazy that call was made...not like there was screaming or hitting going on, people are just too nosey.

Shay Ankerich said...

I just read this whole thing to Scott and we can both so relate although in not such a big way. We stand out too being in a very small town and being the only ones that have Chinese children. I LOVE you for being so real and making me laugh...sorry. Love you and blessings! XOXO

Wendy said...

Oh my, Jean, how sad. Please know, this happens even in smaller families and families that look exactly alike. One day, I was in Barnes and Nobles with my then 2 year old. I was planning to sit and read with him while my older son was involved in a group activity. Well, my little guy took his shoes off and would not put them back on and then proceeded to have a temper tantrum. I moved a few steps away from him and let him get over his 2 year old behavior. Another person asked me if I wanted her to call for help. Seriously...I kindly told the lady that if she could figure out a way to get my son to stop having his 2 year old moment, more power to her. Oh my, they mean well but let's look at the bigger picture before jumping to conclusions. One, would you mistreat a child? Probably not likely...you must obviously love children to adopt 11. You did the right thing...which probably you can find evidence-based information on....you told Emma what she needed to do...you set a limit and then let her figure out how to follow your expectations. I say that is what most parents have difficulty doing. Bravo for you. Poor police officer was probably so embarrassed. The big issue is while this officer was with you, how many other actually 911 things were going on he could have helped with. People....
Your family is beautiful...and well-behaved. Good for you. God bless you!

Sammy said...

Our life is pretty much just like yours. We have 10 and will soon have 2 more and that will be 10 still at home. We are also with my sisters' Chinese kids half the time so again, I can relate. It must have been a God thing that the police officer came from a large family too. I have to admit I probably would not have handled the 911 call very classy. I would probably be thinking the person was a busy body and half a brain could have figured out you were not abusing her. So, don't listen to anything I have to say or I'll get you in trouble. : - ) I have learned to laugh at all the attention and for the most part doesn't bother me at all.

Amanda said...

Oh Jean :-(. How humiliating to have someone call 911 on you in public!!! I wish the grace card was passed out more readily. In our small town, we get all sorts of attention with our Vivi. Stares, comments, questions, etc.... and we only have three kids total! Ha! the kids have yet to notice the staring and pointing. I just smile... and sometimes stare back. :-)

Megan said...

Wow- what a story! Can't imagine someone calling the police on you, but I'm thankful the officer was kind and understanding. This will be a fun "remember when" to talk about as the kids get older!
And, people often count, point, and stare when I'm out with my kids....and we only have 5!! I love seeing you out and about with all of your kiddos- I'm guessing others are admiring your beautiful family, just as I do :)

-Megan (Lucius)

Julianne said...

I think your family is beautiful! I am frequently in MN, and I have to say that while I might stare at you for awhile....it would only to be to figure out whether or not you were the incredible family whose blog I'd been following :)

Hunan Mommy said...

I would be happy to have you sit next to me any day in a restaurant! My little has an outward special need, and over the summer I've found public places can be quite invasive. In some sense I completely understand!

elaine said...

God bless you and your family! Can't believe how rude some people can be! Kudos to you for well behaved children!