‘special people’

We all know them.  The grownups who, if they were still kids, could be diagnosed with Aspergers.  The ones with completely inappropriate social skills and who, without a doubt, have no long-term close-knit friendships.  In an attempt to be a nice person, I like to call them ‘special people’.

Today one of them crossed my path. Grrrrr…

A sweet elderly lady began talking to Sofia (I think we’re gonna take the ‘j’ out) while we were out today.  She said a couple of times, “You are so beautiful!”  My daughter responded with an earful of Serbian and so the nice lady looked at me and asked, “Do you speak English?”  I told her yes and that we had just adopted our daughter from Serbia and that she had only been an American for the past twelve days.

Before we came across the nice lady, we walked past this woman who was very obviously watching us.  At this point in the conversation with the nice lady, the stalker lady started walking towards us and before she was even in my line of sight, said, “I adopted my daughter from the Ukraine eight years ago when she was only eight months old.  She asked me yesterday what her name was before she was my daughter and I told her that it was none of her business.  She’ll just have to wait until she’s eighteen if she wants to go back to that life.”


Awkward way to start a conversation, but this woman has adopted from eastern Europe.  So I thought for a second that she may have an ounce of wisdom to share with me.

I’ve developed many online relationships with other adoptive moms in the past eight months based on this one common thread.  Some of them have given me advice and shared wisdom from their own experiences that I have found priceless.  Some of them have even helped me avoid some pretty big mistakes.  And who knows?  Maybe some of my online friends are ‘special people’.

So while my daughter stood there rocking from one foot to the other, making figure eights with her head and producing a low growl, I made eye contact with the woman and said, “We loved her name and since so much about her world is already changing, we have decided to keep it.  I guess we’re lucky that it’s a pronouncible common English name. (chuckle)”

This woman, who is over six feet tall and has the shoulders of a linebacker, grabs little 5’5″ me by the arm with her right hand.  At the same time, she grabs my daughter by the arm with her left hand.  The low growl now turns into a very loud tigerish growl.  She pulls us both into the doorway of the bathroom that is just behind her, releases my daughter, puts her index finger in my face, and says, “I highly suggest that you take her to Children’s Hospital immediately and have her evaluated.  She has a psychiatric disorder that they haven’t told you about.  Do you know anything about the autism spectrum.”

You’ve gotta be kiddin’ me!  I’m still wanting to slap this woman for grabbing me and my daughter by the arm.  The reaction that her comments were evoking was much uglier than a simple slap.  I wanted to put her in her place.

After a very long awkward heated pause, (during which I removed her hand from my arm) I responded with, ” I happen to have a son who is autistic.  I’ve been parenting on the ‘spectrum’ for about a decade.  We were matched with our daughter because of our experience.  Are you only familiar with it because of your Aspergers, or do your children also fall on the spectrum?”

Her mouth fell open and she stared at me.

I stared back.

No response for several seconds.

I then grabbed Sofia by the arm (as her mother I have the right to do so) and said, “Come on, baby girl.  Let’s go.”

But no000000….  She couldn’t just leave it at that.  She says, “Who do you think is gonna educate her?  The schools will just warehouse her like they did my daughter.”

The urge to slap was growing stronger.  I knew that I had to end this conversation and walk away or end up in the backseat of a military police cruiser.  I really did not want my daughter to experience jail within two weeks of arriving in America and this is probably not a good point in my husband’s career for his wife to be arrested on a military installation.

I turned again and looked at her and said, “My son is main-streamed full-time now in the third grade.  He is where he is today because he’s had great educators and because I’ve fought tooth and nail to make sure that he is given every opportunity to succeed.  The schools only “warehouse” (and yes, I used finger quotes) children whose parents aren’t proactive enough to make sure that doesn’t happen.  Maybe you should be a bigger advocate for your daughter.”

Then I walked away.  And no.  I don’t feel bad about putting her in her place.  She was begging for it.

15 thoughts on “‘special people’

  1. Catherine Denny

    OUTSTANDING!! Way to go, Kaci!! You’re a better person than I am… I don’t know what I’d have done in your place, but being grabbed & thrust into a doorway would have skyrocketted my blood pressure – her “handling” my child would have been dangerous!

  2. Barbara

    Wow! Sorry you had to deal with this lady. It’s shocking what some people will say and do. Sounds like you handled the situation quite well. Sofia is blessed to have you as her advocate.

  3. Debbie

    You showed amazing strength with your reaction, Kaci. Little Anna Sofia is so lucky to have you as her mom and her advocate. I loved meeting her today and am amazed at this little girl who has been through so much in her short five years. All I thought of on the way home was how lucky she is, and wondered how her future would have been had she remained in Serbis. (I really liked the spelling Sofija…are you sure you want to change it? I thought it was as unique and wonderful as she is.)

  4. Wow. It really is amazing what some people feel they have the right to say to a complete stranger. Not being able to have any children the traditional way, I’ve had a lot of interesting comments thrown my way. You showed a lot of restraint and courage and Ana Sofia will know she has a mother who stands up for her no matter what. Now that’s a victory.

  5. Love it! Way to go. You could not have handled it any better if you tried. That was amazing. Well done. Me, I shamefully would have ended up in that police cruiser I think. LOL. Handled w/ grace and dignity.

  6. Karyn


    I can’t believe the nerve some people have, absolutely agree and am proud that you had the where-with-all to have your response together and ready to fire. I also applaud you for giving credit to the educators that have helped in Seth’s journey. You next-to-never hear (as an educator) parents giving credit to those that did make a positive difference. The field of Special Education (as you well know) is soooo underappreciated. Thank you for giving her a piece of your mind.

  7. Mary Burgess

    Kaci, you are the mother!

    The world is full of courageous love and goodness, expressed by you and Chad, and your family with beautiful Ana. There are some very unhappy, lonely, and angry, under-miners out there. They are prickly and like to dismember joy. They have their own pain, no faith or relief, and want to share the misery they feel, locked in the negative. You faced it with love! Ana is so much your daughter. She will flourish in your family.

    I pray the lady feels something from this and won’t spread that sadness to anyone else until she takes care of it herself. God bless her and help her find more love and joy.

    Can’t wait to meet Ana.

  8. Shelley

    Your experience parallels one I had recently involving our 5yo son who is on the spectrum (PDD-NOS). We have a neighbor with a hair-trigger temper (and mouth to go with it) who is kind of fanatical about his (rented) yard next door. Eli (our son) was riding his little bike with training wheels up and down the street in front of our (and this guy’s) house. I figured I could take a minute and water my newly planted peas. The next thing I know, I hear this guy yelling LOUDLY and AGGRESSIVELy, “What the h*ll are you doing? That’s Mine!”, and on and on. I rushed over, and Eli had pulled on a piece of hose this guy had stretched over the end of his front sidewalk, which caused about three feet on one side of the sidewalk, and about one foot on the other side to come out of the ground. (They had buried it to use as a sprinkler line). Since my own knees tend to shake for about two hours every time this guy decides to yell about something, it is not surprising that Eli was in total meltdown. I reminded them (his wife was also out there by this time), “You guys, he’s autistic”. (In other words, he is not doing this to be mean!) Her response? “Well, do you want to have to put it back? He shouldn’t be out here.” At that point I decided to ignore them entirely and comfort Eli. He later told me that he “didn’t like the hose to be in the ground because it might get lost.” I have had a real struggle in my heart toward this guy.(Did I mention that he rents the house next door?”
    But the more I pray for him and his wife, and refuse to dwell on my anger (boy were there a lot of things I could have said to him!), the more peace has been returning to my heart. It really is an ongoing discipline to pluck up those seeds of bitterness and unforgiveness, but God is faithful to help me. Our family may be the only gospel this guy “reads”. He may not understand our forbearance for what it is, and may think he has intimidated us into non-retaliation, but that is not my problem. I am to “watch over my heart with all diligence”, and “not return evil for evil.” I continue to pray for Sofia and your family. May you have His wisdom every step of the way!
    Thank you for allowing others in the body of Christ to be involved in your journey via prayer.

  9. I can not believe this woman! YIKES! You know, one of the things I have found with people when they deal with my children who were adopted, they are more forward in touch, and opinion. I have started to be very aware, and proactive about it. I can only imagine what it will be like when my girls are home…

    I think you handled it just fine. 🙂

    I have a 15 year old son on the autism spectrum. It has been a LONG year.

  10. Lori

    Hi there,
    I am a new reader via Lorraine’s blog and just wanted to say congrats on your newest addition–your daughter is beautiful and I hope is settling in nicely! Take care, Lori

    1. Her name is currently the Serbian spelling S-o-f-i-j-a and our last name. Serbian people only have two names. We are going to change it and give her three names and we are still contemplating keeping the “j” or leaving it out. I’m kind of sick of people calling her So-fi-ja.

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