What Would You Have Said?

For those who commented on the little boy at the pool – 
Daisy, you are so right, in the end, the only thing
 that matters is what God thinks of us.
And Adri, there is no doubt that prejudice is as
 old as the history of our globe.
I have long been fascinated with the story found in 
Numbers 12, of Aaron and Miriam
 belly-aching about Moses {their own brother 
whose life they had helped to spare when he was a baby} 
and the color of Moses’ wife’s skin. 
I did some research once on that story and most
 likely Moses’ wife’s skin was black, or at least very, very dark.
Their story, again, proves to me that the Lord 
has quite a sense of humor as His response to the 
complaining about Moses and his wife’s skin tone
was to allow Miriam’s skin to become alarmingly 
white from a sudden God-directed 
skin disorder {quite possibly leprosy}.   
I am most definitely not making light of leprosy, 
but think about it….they were complaining 
that their brother was married to a dark skinned 
woman and God said, “Really?  So you think that 
you’re better than her because of the lightness 
of your skin?  Seriously?  Try this on for size 
Miss-Light-Skinned-Woman-Not-Turned-WHITE-Skinned-Woman”!  It appears that He was not gonna’ put 
up with Miriam and Aaron’s prejudice against Moses’ wife!
{I attached the entire passage at the bottom of this post.}  
God has given us the responsibility {and grace} 
to train our kids to respond appropriately
to people around them, whether our kids are of 
a different skin tone, have various handicaps
 or are the sibling or friend of one of the above.
First things first, God must always be glorified 
in everything we do.
Just for the record, knowing that God must
 be honored does not mean that I have been
 exempt from feeling like slugging someone though! 
{Just being honest.}
Yet, to honor Him, we must maintain self-control and allow the gentle fruit of the Holy Spirit to speak through us.
To ignore is not “more Godly.”
On the contrary!  
God never ignores injustice!
“Speak up for those who cannot 
speak for themselves, for the 
rights of all who are destitute.”
Prov. 31:8
In fact He commands us to speak up against injustice!
That would mean, we must speak up, not just for 
our own treasures,
 but those around us as well.
I’m telling ya’, you would think I get a commission
 for promoting Frank Peretti’s book,
{which of course I most definitely do NOT!} 
but seriously, it was so insightful, I can’t say
 enough about it.
It only confirmed the importance of adults leading 
the way in how to respond to cruelty against others
 in whatever form we find it.
I think one of the most important factors in responding to others is to try to understand where they are coming from and what their motive would be and maybe what their heart is like.
When I told the story of the little boy at the pool, I made sure each of you understood that he snarled as he spoke.  There was no denying that his heart was being unkind.  It was not an innocent kind of thing.
Over the years we have encountered all sorts of people saying {and doing} all sorts of things toward our family.   Some are just innocent folks trying to understand our life.  Some comments from others have felt ‘not quite so innocent.’  Although we can never be certain what someone’s heart or motive is, scripture does say this:
“The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks.”
Luke 6:45
God’s word is perfect.  And ya’ know what I love 
about His word?  It cuts to the quick.  
No messin’ around.  No pretending.  
He says it like it is.  I love, love, love that!  
So in other words, what the above verse means is this:  
You have a yukky heart?  It’s gonna’ spill out 
yuk from your mouth.  You have a tender, 
loving and kind heart?  Yup, it’s gonna’ spill 
out in tender loving kindness! 
No more making excuses for people who vomit meanness – it’s coming straight from their heart!
We have a few ‘rules’ in our family.
One of our ‘rules’ in our home is that our home is always safe.
There will never, ever be any picking or teasing tolerated.

The world out there can be so cruel.
And if we allow our home to mimic the teasing and cruelty
 in the world, where will our children ever feel safe?
So in our family, we will never, ever say anything 
unkind about or to one another…not even in what some
 might consider as ‘teasing’.   
Everyone is safe here.  

I am dumbfounded when I have heard siblings from
 other families ‘tease’ 
each other with cruel comments or nicknames. 
There is nothing funny about laughing at someone else’s expense, even if the person laughs along.
Down deep they are likely crying their eyes out. 

Another rule? 
We stick together.
Like Super Glue.
You hurt, I hurt.
I hurt, you hurt.
Someone vomits meanness at you,
I feel it like it was me.
So here’s a story of something that happened 
many, many years ago.
Autumn was just two years old and we had closed up Dw’s 
law practice and moved to Virginia Beach for 
Dw to attend seminary.  
Not long after arriving Dw had gone to get his 
haircut and at the appointment 
the hair stylist had invited us to the church
 she attended.  He had told her about our family 
and that we had three kids, two of whom we had had
the privilege of adopting.
The following 
Sunday morning, while visiting her church, 
this woman, whom I have never seen before
 came charging up to me and said, 
“Hi!  I’m the lady who cut your husband’s hair!”
Dw had gone to the bathroom and so I was 
standing alone with Autumn, Abigail, and Tyler 
when she came to us.
I smiled and responded, “Hello, yes, he told me 
about you cutting his hair.”  
Without any other conversation, and without any warning, 
she instantly turned her attention to our three kids
who were standing wide-eyed looking at her abrupt approach… 
and immediately thrust her finger toward 
Tyler’s little 5 year old face and exclaimed loudly, 
“Well I can sure tell he’s not yours!
 {and waving her finger back and forth between
 Abigail and Autumn she continued…} 
Which one of them is yours?
What would you have said or done?

{Lord willing, these posts will serve to get us all thinking about how to respond in all kinds of situations. There is no ‘right’ answer, but some responses will certainly accomplish much more than others.  So please share your thoughts.  What I did and said, may not be for you.  What someone comments may be more your style.  And in the future, many will read this post and the comments that follow…gleaning valuable insight into life, as we know it.}

Numbers 12 

1 Miriam and Aaron began to talk against Moses because of his Cushite wife, for he had married a Cushite. 2 “Has the LORD spoken only through Moses?” they asked. “Hasn’t he also spoken through us?” And the LORD heard this.
 3 (Now Moses was a very humble man, more humble than anyone else on the face of the earth.)
 4 At once the LORD said to Moses, Aaron and Miriam, “Come out to the tent of meeting, all three of you.” So the three of them went out. 5 Then the LORD came down in a pillar of cloud; he stood at the entrance to the tent and summoned Aaron and Miriam. When the two of them stepped forward, 6 he said, “Listen to my words:
   “When there is a prophet among you,
   I, the LORD, reveal myself to them in visions,
   I speak to them in dreams. 7 But this is not true of my servant Moses;
   he is faithful in all my house. 8 With him I speak face to face,
   clearly and not in riddles;
   he sees the form of the LORD.
Why then were you not afraid
   to speak against my servant Moses?”
 9 The anger of the LORD burned against them, and he left them.
 10 When the cloud lifted from above the tent, Miriam’s skin was leprous[a]—it became as white as snow. Aaron turned toward her and saw that she had a defiling skin disease, 11 and he said to Moses, “Please, my lord, I ask you not to hold against us the sin we have so foolishly committed. 12 Do not let her be like a stillborn infant coming from its mother’s womb with its flesh half eaten away.”
 13 So Moses cried out to the LORD, “Please, God, heal her!”
 14 The LORD replied to Moses, “If her father had spit in her face, would she not have been in disgrace for seven days? Confine her outside the camp for seven days; after that she can be brought back.” 15 So Miriam was confined outside the camp for seven days, and the people did not move 
on till she was brought back.
 16 After that, the people left Hazeroth and encamped in the Desert of Paran.

49 thoughts on “What Would You Have Said?

  1. I get questions like this a lot, some kinder and with more tact than others… I always smile and say, "she's mine. I adopted her, but she's mine!"

    ( I used to nanny so I am used to people wondering if annie if my daughter or my charge. One sweet girl at hobby lobby asked and then said that she new I was about her age, (so, young), so she wasn't sure if I was her mommy or many. We then had a talk about adoption, (she was a christian). )

    Although, sometimes when people say I'm not her real mommy, etc, I do want to punch them in the face! (but I just smile and say, "she's real, I'm real, I'm her mommy!"

  2. Ahhhhh, yes! I remember this when our kids were growing up. Our two birth children are white, two of our children are from the Philippines, and 3 are from the US~ spanish, black, native american, etc. I used to hear, I can sure tell which are "yours" and I would say, they are ALL "ours". Once we went to a therapist as a family after Joel's life was threatened by a parish member…I mean like police in our home with guns drawn protecting us to get us out of town to a safe location threat….Anyway, this therapist turned to our foster daughter at the time who was white and asked her how it felt to have so many foster kids living with her! He assumed that the kids who were not white were NOT our kids! Needless to say we let him know his error and never went back to him! Our daughter in law is Korean and married to our bio son…our daughter is Filipino and married to a guy who could be our bio son I guess. We often chuckle at people trying to figure out our family and saying the most bizaar things to us or asking us questions that are rude…we always try to be nice and we say, they are ALL part of our family. aren't we blesse?!!!!

  3. I would have embraced all three of them and said "They're ALL mine!"

    I've gotten this question asked of me when I'm out with my two little ones adopted from China : "Are they REALLY sisters?"

    Yes, they are really sisters.

  4. I believe in God. But, that's a really tough pill for me to swallow, to think that God punished someone with a life threatening disease (one that could spread to the rest of the family as well, and most likely outcast her from her entire family until death-Leparcy) simply for making fun of someone else. I would like to challenge your thought process about God for just a moment. I feel an obligation to do so.
    More likely, it was vitiligo. And I know I'm pushing your limits with your belief system, but in all honestly, I have to defend God here. God is not a vengeful god. He is merciful. Surely you understand and know that, because you are reflecting His mercy by your adoptions. Would YOU cast your own children out or strike them with a hard blow, simply for tattling on each other, or for being mean to each other? Probably not. Neither would our God.
    Perhaps she got vitiligo simply to help her understand differences…to help her grow. That's what this life is really all about…learning and growing from our own experiences, and God is there to gently guide us in that direction.
    I know you will not post this, because it simply does not coincide with your own beliefs, nor does it praise your words…however, in my heart, I feel an obligation to defend God when I see someone is misinterpreting Him as a spiteful and vengeful entity. Just as you feel a strong need to defend your children when someone sees them as 'less than".
    God bless us all.

  5. I'd have probably said something like…

    "They are all mine." To which the response would likely be, "well I know that, but which one was born to you?" (or something like that).

    My response would have been something like (trying to say it nicely here too) "Because all three of them belong to me, which mama birthed them really doesn't matter, does it?"

    Hopefully the conversation would end there. If it didn't I'd probably try to find some way to move my children along and out of the uncomfortableness of the situation. I'm sure loonnnggg discussion at home would be necessary, but hopefully, fruitful for my children and how they view others and what to pray for.


  6. I'd have probably said something like…

    "They are all mine." To which the response would likely be, "well I know that, but which one was born to you?" (or something like that).

    My response would have been something like (trying to say it nicely here too) "Because all three of them belong to me, which mama birthed them really doesn't matter, does it?"

    Hopefully the conversation would end there. If it didn't I'd probably try to find some way to move my children along and out of the uncomfortableness of the situation. I'm sure loonnnggg discussion at home would be necessary, but hopefully, fruitful for my children and how they view others and what to pray for.


  7. I'd probably said something along the lines of, "All three of them are mine."

    If I was in a joking mood, I might add something like "And Tyler looks JUST like his grandfather." (or someone else)

  8. I know you want an answer about what I would have done, but reading your post sent me in a different direction. You can always delete it of course LOL!

    Our oldest was in 2nd grade when our then youngest son was born with dwarfism (daddy is 6'3" LOL! Anyhow, we always told all the kids, to us it is the same as brown hair or blue eyes.

    ANyhow, by 5th grade the kids knew and loved our youngest. One day we went for lunch and sat with the boys. Apparently, a new boy didn't know anything about our little guy. He kept mentioning how short and little he was.

    Without missing a beat one of the boys said "He's a dwarf don't ya know!" and lunch continued with the boys still jockeying for positions to sit next to our little guy, eating and being . . . well boys!

    I was so proud of the boys that day. I don't want them to see our kids as different, and if they do to accept their differences as just that.

  9. I'd have smiled and said, "I know what you mean, but they are ALL mine. All three. Equally." And then I'd have told her that the conversation needed to end with your statement, so as not to cause hurt for your children.

    (This has actually also happened to my daughter, who has adopted 2 from Korea and 1 from Ethiopia. When asked if they are "real" brothers, she always answers, "Yes"…even though they (biologically) are not…but, yes, they ARE REAL brothers!)

  10. I would have replied with "they are all mine."

    I had an incident at a Target checkout when i was shopping with my daughter who was at about 2 at the time. She is biracial and has beautiful brown skin and curly hair. (she also looks JUST like her daddy!) The women began by commenting how beautiful she was. She continued complimenting her and then abruptly said "is she yours". I simply replied yes. She then proceeded to ask me if she was adopted. I said no. She then said "oh she must look just like her daddy." She sure does and I hurried up out of there because I wasn't expecting the 3rd degree from the teller. THe whole conversation should have ended when I said yes to the question of yes she is mine, doesn't matter if she is a bio child or not she is mine, just as all your treasures are yours.

  11. When going through the adoption process I read somewhere something that stuck with me. I am to honor God but my focus needs to be on my children and NOT the offender. It is not the time to teach, preach, rebuke or kill them with kindness. It is a time to focus on my child's wounded spirit. At least, in my children's presence, I won't get into an exchange with the offender.

    I would want to show my children the mama bear in me that will defend and protect them. I would have looked at them and responded with "they are ALL mine, some born in my heart some in my belly but ALL precious gifts from the Almighty." I would not have given her a chance to respond but would have taken them away. All in the best God-honoring tone I can muster.

    I was only one week home with my daughter a clerk at JC Penneys asked me how much I payed for her!

  12. Wow… That's hard. I don't know what I would have said, but I definitely would have told her all three were mine. I am just glad you are bringing this up, because I am sure we will encounter this in the future and I want to get some wisdom on how to handle this. I'm ordering the Peretti book too.

  13. To me, this is not a difficult situation to reply to like the last one. Oh my, I did not know what I would have said for that one. But this one is easy as I've had similar situations several times… I simply say they are all mine. Then I explain… Kaleb is my step-child, Nate and Nick are my biological children, and Teddy and Indy are my adopted children. I believe wholeheartedly that referring to them as step, biological, or adopted does not imply any more or less love, it simply clarifies for others. After all, God has an immeasurable love for me and I am his adopted child.

  14. I would have said gently (since she was being abrupt and to draw attention AWAY from her comment) as I stepped towards her and put myself between her and my children. They are all mine Thank You. Their names are…….- and then introduce them proudly!!!

    I think when anyone comes up abruptly our children need to see us intervening on their behalf so they do not feel threatened.

    AND then seeing you proudly introducing them makes them realize they are all equal in your eyes and you are proud to tell everyone who they are.

    ALTHOUGH here again- smacking them upside the head with a HUGE BIBLE may be preferred…..it will not further the Kingdom. 🙁 UGH!!!

    We don't get this comment (well not yet anyway) because our first 8 children do not share our skin color). We usually get the comment – don't you want to have any of your own? Yea, same kind of thing really. I say well I have 9 of my own already and here they are!!! 🙂

  15. What are you talking about? they MOST certinally ARE ALL MINE!

    wondering if you guys stayed at that church or moved on to another one…. what a HORRIBLE thing to say to a parent and in the kids faces too thats just CRUEL 🙁

    Janet in MO.

  16. They are ALL mine! We have 7 (4 are from China). I get.."so you have 3 of your own and then these 4" all the time. My answer is "No, they are all mine AND all 7 of them are adopted".

  17. We get kind of questions a lot along with " are they related?" (Pointing at my 2 kids from China) I used to stumble as I tried to explain it all. But now I have my clear rehearsed answers ready: " they are all mine" ( with a kind smile — I try not to be snarky even when I feelikd it) and "yes they are all sisters and brothers!" Some people don't get it or think I am not getting their meaning but I kind of play dumb. Then after we are out of their earshot I try to talk to the kids about how some people really don't know that families are made from love. Not biology or similar appearances. How sad for them.

  18. I would of given Tyler a hug and smiled as I said "actually he is" and then explain the story of how I adopted him and how wonderful the experience was. Since I wasn't there I don't know the tone, but "which one is yours" sounds more like a statement made more out of ignorance than malice to me. Sounds like a great opportunity to educate another human being about the 163 million little treasures out there.

  19. That is the time I would have used this one if I could have held the children's ears shut(just because of the first part)
    "Actually none of them are mine, they are God's I'm raising them for Him"

  20. Linny – I am one of those "closet lurkers" you talk about. I think I may have posted a comment one other time, but I am just in awe of your blog! I love the way Our Lord lives in you and your family and the way you guys so openly trust Him, in good times and bad. It is very encouraging, so thank you! I have a 4 year old daughter now, but before i had her I was an elementary school teacher in some areas that weren't the best. I used to reward my students by taking them places – zoo, out to get ice cream, etc. Many times, while out w/ the students, I would get those "looks" but I never had anybody be so bold as to say anything to me. Anyways, I am pretty sure in your situation, I would have responded with, "They are all mine!" and moved on to find my seat.

  21. First, I love that passage. It shows God's "mother bear" side. You better not mess with his kid Moses!! 🙂

    Second, Sarah has been home about 15 months and we've had many questions like the one you mention because she looks different than my other kids. I reply that they are surely ALL MINE, all are precious KEEPERS! As for her birth into our family, I say she came right on her "due date"; the only one to do that. I believe in affirming my kids right in the midst of the questions. Some are just not aware of how they have said it, some are uneducated about adoption and others, well, are plain rude. I try to remind my kids that rude comments come from deep hurts, have no root of truth and are not to be taken into our hearts.

  22. I would have said…well, my goodness, you must need to get your eyes checked…You must be blind not to recognize a loving family when you see one! 🙂

  23. Hi Linny,

    I think the first thing I would have done is a quick (and silent) pray to the Holy Spirit, because as you said, you want to be charitable, and at the same time be protective of your kids, etc.

    Then, I would have got a look on my face like she had just said that the grass was purple, and I would have said, "Well of course they are all mine! I am their momma, and they are my children forever and ever and ever!" Nice and loudly!

    From your description of her, I don't think you could have ended there. For some people, they would be quick enough to realize they had made some sort of faux pas, and would have just mumbled, "Oh yes of course," and sort of walked away. I don't think she would have done that. So I think I would have used the opportunity to educate her a little bit with better language. I would have looked her straight in the eye as proud as could be and said, "Abi is my biological daughter, and Tyler and Autumn joined our family through adoption, and I am so head over heels in love with all three of my precious children. Will you excuse me please." Then I would have walked away with my kids very directly, anywhere else.

    I remember learning from our adoption agency that we really have at least four options to respond to people's questions. (WISE UP is the acronym to remember them).
    We can WALK away.
    We can say "It's private or personal."
    We can SHARE a little bit of info.
    We can EDUCATE.
    And if the question is just plain off the wall or rude, or whatever, we can always say "I can't believe you just asked me that."

    All the best!

  24. I have had this happen to me before so this one is easy. I would say "They are ALL mine". I know there would be some back tracking on their part, trying to clarify what they meant. In my situation I just walked away after that but I guess you would have to continue the conversation so I'm not really sure where I would go from there.

  25. Oh I soooo hate the "is he yours?" comment. I have gotten that one several times. I always answer "he is absolutely, 100% mine!" Z is still too young to really understand what people are saying, but someday he won't be. My main concern is making sure he knows that we are his family, forever, no questions asked!

  26. Oh an easy one! They're all mine!

    Thought you might like to hear a little bit of a reverse story that happened to me today. I was getting out of my car next to another lady in a parking lot today. She had a cute little hispanic baby. I said, "Oh my goodness, she looks exactly like my daughter did as a baby. See, she's right there in the car." The lady looked at my car and then bundled up her baby really quick and took off suddenly. I looked at my car, which was a rental, and realized that the only person she could see was my 23 year old blond, blue-eyed child. My little Hispanic daughter in the backseat wasn't visible with the heavily tinted windows. My older daughter and I got a good laugh about the crazy old woman who tells people their Hispanic children will grow up to be blond with blue eyes!

  27. I I would say, "Well of course He is mine. The Lord gave him to me just like each of my other children. "

    But, that is crazy. As we go through this process of adoption, I can imagine that we will hear more stories like this and more manners in which we should deal with it. I really believe that people do not think before they speak.

    Thank you for sharing.

  28. After picking my mouth up off the floor. I think I would have said that all three of my children are a gift from God. I am wondering outloud if the "why do you ask" phrase would work, but I think no. When your precious children are standing there, you probably do not want to know why she is asking, as her answer maybe more of the same rubbish. I know there has to be a better answer, so I am looking forward to reading other comments. Thank you for doing this Linny.

  29. I'd like to think I would have said, with a smile, "You must be mistaken. They're all ours." And hope she realized how ignorant that comment was.

  30. Love how your blog update! cute!!! and love the new photos!
    You may want to check out my blog post today – it may be encouraging as my son and his friend didn't even realize their skin tones were different! Love the innocence of children – we can learn soooo much from them!

  31. (A similar version of this comment may by error appear twice 😉


    This post has ministered to my heart. I take heed to this wisdom. Thank you for sharing your heart and keeping it real. You have encouraged me more than you know. So much.

    I LOVE the new look to aplacecalledsimplicity! It is organized and easy to find information- truly keeping it simple. Looking around I found the Orphan Wares website, I easily went to "adoption" and clicked Orphan Wares. Each link for information is now simple for all. Amen.

    Rejoicing about Grandma (mother) Saunders being in Heaven at this very moment with Jesus!

    Praying as your family misses her deeply. How beautiful of a gift it is to love and cherish a life.

    Love you! *hug*

  32. I would have said, "They are all mine. We are so blessed by God to have these three children."

    If she persisted, I might have said, "That's a very unkind thing to say." Or I might have pulled her away privately and explained how hurtful it was to wag her finger in Tyler's face and say, "I can sure tell he's not yours." I would have told her it is important to protect the kids' feelings.

    Of course, I always think of the best solutions after an incident happens and not on the spot.

    Thank you for posting these scenarios. This is a great way to gain insight on how to handle these.

  33. First of all, OH MY GOODNESS I adore your new blog header! Beautiful!

    Second, I guess I have more of a question than a comment. We have 7 children. 5 are biological, 2 are adopted. One of our adopted children "looks" just like us, blond hair, blue eyes. The other is a brown skinned beauty.

    While we do not intend to hide that our adopted children are adopted (because the story of them coming to our family is TOTALLY GOD ORDAINED!) we do want to be sensitive when we speak about their adoptions.

    Recently, I birthed our 7th child, our precious Abigail Mercy. As we sat at lunch one afternoon, one of our adopted treasures (who is almost 4) said, "Mommy, you baby is not in you tummy anymore!"

    I replied, "No buddy. She came out!"

    He replied, "I came out of you tummy too!"

    I told him that no, he came from another Mommy's tummy.

    One of our almost 6 year olds, (who is our news reporter!) said, boldly and totally innocently, "No Bubbie, you were ADOPTED!"

    He wasn't being cruel with his statement but merely speaking the truth.

    Yet, it made me wince. I never desire our kids be segregated by "adopted" and "birthed."

    So, my question, How do you lovingly reinforce that some of your children came to you through birth and others through adoption and yet focus on FAMILY UNITY and not make it a divisive issue?

    I sure hope you read this! If you'd like to respond via email, feel free.


    Blessings to your sweet family as you continue to speak the truth, live your lives and proclaim the Savior BOLDLY!

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