What I Did

As always, I am sharing my heart with you. 
I am grateful for all your responses because I really did want to know how many of you would have handled it.  
You know how they say, 
“Hind sight is 20/20”
I have thought over and over and over and over 
about the situation.
What I did.
What I didn’t do.
What I could have done.
Asking the Lord to prepare me now, for next time.
Asking the Lord to prepare my kids now, for next time.
Asking the Lord to give us all wisdom –
and lots of it!
Many of you had some really great ideas.
Truly, when the little boy said what he said, I was stunned.
Stunned on at least three counts:
1.  Stunned that he said it.
2.  Stunned that it came out of nowhere as
 they had not even been playing with him.
3.  Stunned with the way it was snarled.   
Quite honestly, I am still stunned.  
That’s why I wanted to know what you all would have done.
Over the years we have heard all kinds of hurtful comments
dating all the way back to when when we first
 brought Tyler home 26+ years ago. 
Actually since bringing our precious Ruby home we have had a recurring question asked from complete strangers so often that we had to pray and talk and pray some more – asking the Lord to give us an appropriate answer that would quell adults who are rude and lack discretion toward people with special needs. 
I will share that situation soon.
But this was somehow different.  
It was sooooo hateful.
It was from a child directed at my children
 and completely unprovoked.
No doubt, when Elizabeth’s eyes met mine, 
I could tell.
Her eyes were pleading with me.
I knew I could not just ignore it.
And just in case any one were to think that there 
is not a Mama Bear residing in me?
Guess again!
I can still see the pleading look in Elizabeth’s 
eyes even as I type.
I had to do something.  
Right then.
About 10 years ago I took my Tyler fishing in Canada for a week.  Just mom and son.
We had a blast.
I took a book I had just gotten with me to read.
{I just googled and linked Amazon with the book in case any
 one of you would want to buy it, and just opening the window to 
put the permalink in, seeing the cover, my eyes welled with tears.  
Powerful book. Truly powerful.}

Have you read it?

It is Frank Peretti’s own personal autobiography regarding the deep pain that he suffered from society while growing up 
because of his physical disfigurement.
All I can say is that I sat on a rock in Canada reading 
his book and literally wept for hours.  
I remember Tyler fishing nearby and 
coming over to me every little bit 
and finding me sobbing uncontrollably each time….
It is a must read for every person/parent/aunt/uncle/
grandparent/teacher/youth worker/
child care provider, etc.
It seems that all too often most people would 
rather ignore hateful comments than hold 
anyone accountable for their words or actions.
Frank Peretti really, really challenges that thought.
It is an amazing book that I would highly recommend.
Anyway, between Elizabeth’s eyes and Frank Peretti’s book tumbling around in my head…
I did the best thing I knew to do.

Turning toward the boy, whose eyes met mine, I said,
 “Hey, would you come with me so you can say 
that in front of your father?”
To which, immediately, the little boy, with his eyes locked on mine, walked backwards 
and disappeared around a wall of the pool.
But I didn’t feel I could end it there.
I turned to where the boy’s father 
{whom I had been introduced to a couple hours earlier}
 was engaged in a conversation.
We really had been getting ready to leave and at that point, I just wanted to whisk my kids somewhere safe from racial prejudice.
So I prayed.  
“Lord, please!  Could you have that person talking to the dad, 
leave, so I could tell the dad what he said?”

Since so many of you responded, I also will share 
what I felt….for starters – like many of you suggested, 
 my guess is that it’s pretty likely 
this little guy hears inappropriate and hate-filled 
talk in his home.  He is one very, very angry little boy by 
the way he snarled at Elizabeth and the others.

And as a mom of precious treasures who have 
all been through such painful things in their little lives
pre-coming-home-forever, and  
being completely honest, I was not really feeling all 
that concerned at that moment 
for that little boy.  
 I want my kids feeling safe, valued and protected –
 knowing that Mama will never ever 
placate anyone at my children’s expense.

I also believe that if a child is old enough to 
open his mouth to spew venom on another child, 
he is old enough to be held accountable.  
And lastly, it seemed pretty clear to me,
 that the way he walked backwards and 
ducked out of sight, he clearly knew his behavior 
was wrong {but he’d still chosen to say it}.

I sat there and kept praying and glancing
 to see if the dad was alone yet.  
the person talking to him walked away.
I jumped up to approach him.
With as much kindness as I could muster, I said, 
“Hi, isn’t so-n-so your son?”  
He grinned from ear to ear, “Yes he is!”  
I continued, “Well I was wondering if you
 could have a talk with him because he just
 told my kids,
‘I hate you all {pausing} because you’re black.’  
I continued on…
“I have three children from Africa, we swim here
 all the time, and he needs to understand that it’s not okay.”  
The dad then said this:
Well he doesn’t have any idea that it’s bad to say that.
He doesn’t even know what he’s saying.
He wouldn’t have any idea that there is 
anything wrong with that.”
Hmmmm, really?
I wasn’t going to debate with the dad that 
since his son had backed out of view he most definitely 
understood that it was nasty and mean!
Clearly, it seemed like it was pointless.
But at least, telling him, I felt 
like maybe, it served to put the dad on notice.
I would like to think that the dad was at least embarrassed that I called him on it and will watch more closely next time.
Regardless, it was such a hate-filled and mean thing to
 have said to anyone, and yet it provided a 
good opportunity to talk with the kids about 
praying for him 
{now that the initial feelings are over}
and learning how to show God’s love to others
 in spite of their mean behavior toward us.  

38 thoughts on “What I Did

  1. Good for you!! So glad you told the dad and i'm sure your precious little ones felt very safe and protected by you!! I can't even think of what i would do ( i pray i can be loving and not nasty if i ever do have to deal with it!) Thank you for sharing!

  2. Sounds like you handled it really well. I am impressed that you thought to bring him to his father and challenged him to say it in front of his father. As I said before, I am so glad you shared this. I will remember what you did. I think it was great. (Now, I have to check out that book!)

  3. He had "no idea that it's bad to say that"?!? I find it hard to believe a 6 yr old doesn't know it's bad to say "I hate you" to someone for any reason.

    Some parents will make any excuse for their kid's bad behavior, thereby encouraging more bad behavior.

  4. You know, my first thought is that God will use this in that little boy's life. Especially if you will see him on a regular basis this summer.
    You never know, Your babies could teach him differently than what he has learned already.
    God could use this as something huge in his life. Maybe even one day he will have little African treasures of his own.

  5. That was so wise Linny! To hold him accountable for what he said. Also for approaching the one who was reponsible for him. I pray that this father comes to terms with what is festering under the surface…maybe even in his own heart.

    This is heartbreaking all the way around!

  6. Confused! Why would the dad say the boy wouldn't have any idea why that was bad? Did the dad go on to tell you some other information about the boy, like that he has a social disorder or that he was adopted from a trauma background or similar situation? Wow, Mama Bear, I'd be shaking after an encounter like that. How did you respond to the dad?

  7. I'm glad you went to talk to his dad right away – that was absolutely the right thing to do. I wouldn't have thought of it until I had already left, and I would still be kicking myself. It is sad that his father was so dismissive about the whole thing, but as you say, at least he now knows that it happened and hopefully he will be watching the next time. I'm very very glad you stood up for your children in a way that they could see. They need to know that showing God's love for mean people does NOT include accepting the abuse or allowing it to continue. Good for you!

  8. Linny- you handled it the right way. What you said to the boy, talking to the dad, and praying for them with your children. It is so difficult not to step out in your flesh in a circumstance like that. So hard. It's a test of spiritual attack, will you stay in the Spirit, talking to Jesus (keeping your eyes on Him) around such hatred directed towards you (or someone you love) or will you speak/act in the flesh? This week hatred was directed towards me. Wow- is it ever hard to love the un-loveable and treat them as you would want to be treated even when we (or those we love) are treated so disrespectfully. Only in light of Jesus and His blood on that wooden cross does He give me the strength and love to treat people with love. The dad making excuses for his son's behavior (sin) and the son hiding after spewing hatred so clearly shows that they are desperate for prayers. I am praying for them now and Elizabeth for healing and for forgiveness all around. Put on the whole armor of God. So many flaming arrows. God will turn this around for good!

  9. Great respsonse Linny!!! That was a very christian thing to say and do and make the father aware that No, his comments aren't accetable and that you were aware of what he said to your little treasures. WOW!!! Anyway, you sooo did the right thing. Hugs, my knees would still be knocking if I had that happen to me. love, Ellen W. of Illinois

  10. I'm so thankful you did say something and protected your children. These comments will hurt your children, but there is also a great gift and security that builds in their hearts when they see their mom go and stand up for them. Wish my parents would have for me, and that makes me such a "mama bear" myself. I think I'll get that book. I'm sure I'll have comments about our family in the future…

  11. Wow. I've been out of town so I'm catching up and just saw this. I am in shock. I am guessing that he also hears these things at home, how heartbreaking. I am praying for your children's precious hearts to be protected from that hate, and for this little boy – that someone will help him to know the healing power of Jesus Christ and that he will change his views over time. So so sorry to hear this and I think you did all you could. Hugs!

  12. I am lurker to your blog for many many years. Since you brought Isaiah home actually.

    When I read what happened to your sweet children I wept for them. I was stunned! I am once again stunned that the father of this little boy was not mortified and continued to try and justify what his son said. I would have wanted to crawl under a rock. Yet, I would have been a parent, found my child and took care of the situation immediately while you were still there. I am pretty sure you handled it better than I would have. I would have either got really angry or really sad and left. I'm not sure which. I hope I never have to find out!

    I too am the mother of adopted children. One of my babies has brown skin. We have faced racial comments several times and it breaks my heart each and every time.

    One of my children was attacked by a neighbor child last summer simply for being adopted. I will admit the momma bear came out of me too. I marched outside and talked to the child and then to his mothers home to speak to her as well. She too made excuses. "His dad and I are divorcing, he had gained a lot of weight and he was being teased. He was probably just trying to hurt someones feelings because his get hurt too." I believe I said "seriously?". It amazes me that parents can be so complaisant of their children's behaviors. It's very sad!

    I am so sorry your sweet children had to hear this. I am so sorry that little boy is so hate filled at such a young age. I am so sorry his father is enabling him and excusing him from his wrong doing. It is not doing him any favors. Many prayers are coming your way. Sweet Elizabeth reminds me of my daughter. I can imagine how hurt Katie would be if someone said that to her. My heart just breaks for her.

  13. You did the right thing, Linny. Speak up where there is injustice. Just the way God would have wanted it. (((Hugs)))

    p.s. you are Elizabeth and Ruby Grace's knight in shining armour because of your faithfulness to what is right, His way! 🙂

    Isa 1:17 Learn to do well; seek judgment (justice), relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow.

    Psa 82:3 Defend the poor and fatherless: do justice to the afflicted and needy.

    Pro 31:9 Open thy mouth, judge righteously, and plead the cause of the poor and needy.

    Isa 58:6 Is not this the fast that I have chosen? to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke?

  14. I love you, Linny!
    Reassuring our own kids of their value in Christ is vital. I know you spent time talking with them about that later. We can't control others but we can let Christ rule in us so we respond with His love, even when we're hurt. That's a difficult lesson to experience, but one that will certainly help them recognize the importance of speaking words which benefit those around us.
    You're a great mom, to each one.

  15. Linny,

    We have been in exactly this same place and I did almost exactly the same thing. We graciously approached the parents (who claim Christ) and one of our our (black) sons (with TEARS in his eyes) told them, "I just wanted you to know that your daughters told me they didn't like me because I am black and told the other children not to talk to me because I am black. I am not mad, I just wanted you to know so you could talk to them about it." He was obviously distraught and agreed to talk with them (they are OBVIOUSLY old enough to know better). He then called my husband a week later to say, "my girls said they had no idea what I was talking about so it must have just been a misunderstanding on your child's part." totally crazy the lengths at which parents will go to preserve their delusions that THEIR child would be incapable of sin. a seriously messed up worldview and it is sad that our children have to suffer because other parents are unwilling to teach and train their children in righteousness.

  16. I am soooo Sorry. I guess the preK teacher in me wanted it not to be like that. I was really hoping the parent would be horrified and he would be a new friend in the neighborhood. Well, I'll be praying with you. I guess it will be just a bigger miracle when their family is changed from the inside out. Sheri

  17. I read your blog often, and love to hear about your journey. I wanted to say that response to the child hadn't occurred to me. Love it. It's telling that the father defended him by saying he didn't know it was inappropriate. It's our job as family members and educators to teach our children what is appropriate and what is simply unacceptable. I hope that your kind handling of the situation touches his heart.

  18. Hey – Ok, streaching it, maybe the kid didn't know much about being african american or seeing people who are (arizona not the most racially diverse). However, pretty hard to believe that the kid did not know that it was hostile (he doesn't have any idea its bad to say that, that there's anything wrong with that) to say I hate you all. Sad, if he doesn't know its wrong, then its the parents who need to let him know it is completely unacceptable.

  19. Linny,

    I think you handled that very tactfully. I tried to leave a comment on the "what would you have done" post, but my phone wouldn't allow me post it. I pray that the Lord will work in that little boys life and in the lives of his parents to change his heart. I pray that they learn His loving grace and come to know Him. I pray that your beautiful children know how loved they are and that they have nothing to do with anyone else's hateful hurtful behavior. The responsibility lies with the ignorant people who say foolish mean comments like that.

  20. Linny,

    I am still sick in the stomach at what took place. I cannot imagine how I would have reacted, and I think you handled it very well. Your treasures saw that you stood up for them and handled it the grown up way.

    I will say that it seems to me, at least, that God has a definite purpose for your wonderful family living in that specific neighborhood, to continue to speak out for the orphans and fight hatred in spiritual warfare and The Enemy's plan to further harm the least of these.

  21. Im sorry your sweet babies had to endure such hatred from the little boy and his father.

    I just sent you an urgent email request. I forgot to label it that way.


  22. Heartbreaking. I'm praying that someone in that little boy's life takes five seconds and tells him that hate is always wrong, and love never is.

    Also praying that Elizabeth's heart is comforted knowing that she is loved by so many.

  23. Oh Linny i am so sorry. I don't comment oftenbut I will come out for this one as I have an adopted black niece and we ran in to this often as she was in a town with three other black families. People were ugly but we taught her to respond in a polite tone" Oh I m sorry you feel Tgat way as the bible says god loves all tge children of the world that means me and you. Glad you are my brother or sister ". And just walk away. Then we would always pray. She is in jr High has many friends is silly athletic and a very awesome Christian. She understands why she is adopted and loved. Please give those babies extra hugs. Love you all and praying for you. Lynne

  24. So, now I'm going to ask- as a Mama who's raised successful, minority kids- how did you prepare them to handle these situations when you can't be there to step in for them? I'm sure you have hit a nerve for many of us adoptive parents addressing fears and realities for many. I'd love your advice as to how to handle this while maintaing Christian love, and positive self-esteem. Thanks!

  25. Sounds like a hurt little soul to me! I think of that poem: "Children Learn What They Live". I "think" I would have said: "Black? No, this is beautiful Brown skin. Isn't it pretty? You know? You were probably born in the United States. My children were born in Africa! Isn't that cool? And, their Daddy and I got to choose them to be our children! Would you like to hear about Africa?" It seems like children who speak out in anger really need someone to Teach them with kindness. Having said all of that, I know how it's easy to feel hurt and anger when our children are hurt by someone's words! I will pray for ALL of the little hearts and souls involved. And, for your Mama-Heart, too. That He places a Hedge of Protection over the Hearts and Ears of your Sweet Babies. With all of the reporting on the shooting of that young man in Florida, (Trayvon), I have definitely thought about so many who adopt children from Africa, Uganda, Haiti. Sadly, those children, along with AA children born here in the U.S. will face ignorance and prejudice. I've seen several Moms on TV who are talking about teaching their children, sons in particular, how to NOT be a target to those who might harm them. While it's difficult to have to teach them those things at ANY age, it may be best to start using these incidents now, while they are small and soak in your words. That's all. I love you, Linny! And, all of your babies! ~ Jo

  26. We live in such a fallen world! My mommy heart breaks with yours. Your precious princess should not have to contend with such ugliness – her cares should be as simple as what to dress her dolls that day. Thank you for making me think more deeply about what my response will be when we inevitably encounter racism. I failed my baby girl a couple of weeks ago by not holding a group of mean girls at the park accountable – they were working so hard to exclude her and kept running away from her whenever she joined them. I finally re-directed her and joined her on the slides – she is so friendly and does not yet understand social cues so she was clueless about what was happening. However, that is no excuse for me not to start showing my precious lambs that mama will always protect them.

  27. Well Done Linny ~ I wholeheartedly agree as a mom, gramma, and as a teacher. Somehow in situations such as these we find that the perpetrator can easily become the victim, somehow it all gets twisted and people end up wanting to protect the one who verbally abused/hurt. It is our job as moms/dads/grandparents/teachers to help our children feel valued, safe, and protected….as you so well said. And I also agree, if he is old enough to spew it, he's old enough to be held accountable. So he can grow and change.
    I am so sorry this happened to your sweet ones, but I am so glad they have a mom like you who models Christ. You are one amazing mom :-).
    PS thanks for the book recommendation
    PSS I am a friend of the Hujus' with anothr tbi miracle son 🙂

  28. I really like what you said to the little boy, so simple, but very direct. Wish his father had a different responce as he appeared to show no regret for what his son said or the fact thay you and your children were hurt :-(. Thank you for sharing.

  29. Linny,

    I love what you did. I think it was not only appropriate, but productive. You were honest, to the point, and did not debate. I pray that seeds were sown for the father to have a honest and up front talk with his son and that this will start and a good learning period in the child about how to treat others.

    I believe that child is old enough to be held responsible and to know that it will not be tolerated. I have a precious treasure who is 7 and he has realized for sometime now that he has dark skin and we do not, so I know a 6 year old can comprehend it. I will be praying that your children are protected from that and that a six year old little boy is forever changed (in a good way) because a wonderful mother had the courage to speak up.


  30. I was so upset to hear your story this week! I know it happens but makes me all sorts of Mama Lion all the same! I shared your post with my girls as we talk often of what we will do when this type of thing comes up with their coming siblings.

    To my complete surprise…the issue actually came up today with a little guy I tutor. He saw the picture of our future son on my phone and we had quite a conversation!!! This young man had very strong opinions of who I could or could not bring into my family. I was very clear with him that Miss Joy loves ALL CHILDREN and will be so very happy and blessed to be their mommy NO MATTER WHAT SHADE OF SKIN THEY HAVE.

    Anyway, your post gave me the courage to approach the mommy and bring it to her attention. It ended very well. I am sure we will encounter other occasions that it may not be so good.

    Thank you again for living out loud and encouraging us as we walk our own journey to our forever family!!

  31. I am so sad to hear what happened to your precious treasures! i like you do think that that boy knew what he said was wrong! And you go girl! let that Mama Bear shine through! Blessings! Janet P.S. I have grand-children who are Latino and some of the comments directed toward them are mean. It like Martin Luther King says in his I have a Dream speech that He hopes that his four little children will be judged by their character than the color of their skin Janet

  32. Thank you for sharing. I"m looking forward to hearing your upcoming responses to situations you've encountered and appreciate you revisiting these hurtful memories to help those of us coming up behind you. {hug}

  33. Hi Linny, I think you handled that very well but didn't you say that your new house had a pool in the back yard? Just wondering why you were at the public pool. Anyway, good work!

  34. It bothers me extremely that the dad did not even offer an apology for his child, even if he wanted to claim that the boy didn't know what he was saying; which of course he clearly did.
    ugh or something…..
    I don't know what I would have done, not being a mother myself, but this makes me fairly agitated; I'm afraid I would have had trouble constraining myself. It sounds like you did a very good job and handled it the best you could. hugs for Elizabeth.

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