"People have accused me of adopting a designer baby, like Angeline Jolie. I don't love her any less than my biological children," says Joy of her 4-year-old daughter, Annie. "I've had people come up to me in stores, airports, customs. One time, I had Annie in my arms, and this woman came up to me and said, â€˜Where did you get her?' and it was like, â€˜Where did you get that purse?' She said, â€˜How dare you take this child from her own country?' Finally, I just ended it by saying, â€˜You're a fat little troll, and go climb back under the bridge where you came from.' I'm afraid that the verbal attacks will hurt Annie's self-esteem. I worry that she'll feel less my daughter, because the differences are always pointed out to her."[AD]
"The people who harass my mom, they have no idea how much she loves Annie," adds Joy's son, Robert.
"When people attack me in front of Annie, I just don't know how I should respond. Do I walk away? Do I stay there and fight?" Joy says. "Dr. Phil, how do I deal with these people?"
"This happens a lot," Dr. Phil says to Joy. "How do they start this conversation?"
"Usually, you can tell by the way that they approach," Joy replies. "There are a lot of people who are just curious. It's the people who come up, and they have an edge to their voice."
"What is your typical response?"
"I usually attempt humor at first. I'll say, â€˜Well, I like things made in China,'" Joy relates. She says she has a hard time deciding whether to confront rude people or to walk away, because she's not sure what message the latter response sends to Annie.
"The fact is, your daughter is watching. You are the most powerful role model in her life," Dr. Phil says. "If you are gracious, if you are patient, but if you step up, and defend her and say, â€˜We celebrate these differences. We love and honor her history and her culture,' and you're gracious about it but firm in your support of her, that's the best thing in the world that you can do for her. If you get defensive, if you get combative, if you get confrontive, she will internalize that."[AD]
Dr. Phil displays a graphic with cross-cultural adoption dos and don'ts:
Do treat your son or daughter like any other child.
Do support your child when curious strangers ask questions.
Don't introduce your child as adopted.
Don't assume adoption is a second choice.
For the complete list, click here.