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To the People Who Say, 'I'm So Sorry' When They See My Child

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a small baby girl on her father's lap on a park swing

This post is meant to give the bare-bones raw truth for what myself and my husband, as well many other parents to differently-abled children, think and feel. I hope everyone can understand.

When we go out in public with a child with special needs, we meet many people. Seven out of 10 will address us with something like, “Oh she is so cute,” “How adorable,” or “She’s doing so well and looks great.” These people are polite and tend to show a genuine concern. Two out of 10 people are the rude and disrespectful ones. Their comments go more like, “What is it?” “What’s wrong with it?” or even “Why did you have it?” These are the ones we can completely do without. We’ve learned to just say, “God bless” and walk away. The last type of person is the “I’m sorry” person — the one who walks up to ask how old our baby is and then immediately says, “Oh, I’m so sorry.” This is the comment that actually still hurts. These people feel sorry for us; they pity us. Why?

Telling me you’re sorry is like a slap in the face. You’re sorry because I was given a gift, a special loving baby who I got to keep after I begged God to let us keep her. You’re sorry because she doesn’t have 10 fingers or two whole arms. But technology today can make bio arms better than anything we’ve ever seen. You say sorry because she’s small, but we get a ton of use out of clothes, and we get to keep our baby smaller longer, like every one always wants. You say sorry because you assume she’s sickly and dying. News flash! Not every human who looks different is terminal. Yes, you don’t know our story, but it hurts when someone assumes we’re burdened with this sick kid, that we cant enjoy life because of our baby. We love her! We don’t see her as a burden; she’s a joy to have. We go places and do things with her and have the time of our lives dong it. She’s a happy, healthy little girl who you choose to mourn when she’s sitting right in front of you.

When we first began hearing “I’m sorry,” we’d smile and say thank you and then move on, but after so many times, you realize you cant just let it go. Saying, “No, don’t tell me you’re sorry. She’s happy, healthy and growing,” has become a first reaction. Sometimes I’ll even ask a person, “Why?” to see what their response is. Normally, they stumble or even come right out and say, “Well you daughter is like that, and it must be so hard.” I always tell them, “No harder than it is for your kids.”

My daughter is a kid. No child is perfect. Every baby and child has flaws — colic, purple crying, not wanting to sleep, mood swings, not wanting to eat, wanting to eat too much, acting out, having social delays, etc. So why should my daughter be looked at differently than anyone else’s child just because she is unique? I know people will always look at her differently because of her arms and size, but why look at her with pity and sadness? How would you feel if someone walked up to you in public, put their hand on you shoulder and said “Oh, I’m so sorry.” You’d be left feeling lost and wondering, “Why? Was it something I said? Is it something I’m wearing? Did someone tell them something about me?” That’s how we feel when this happens. You assume something about my daughter before you even know her name.

So please, the next time you see a unique, special, differently abled, atypical, exceptional, adorable, unconventional and original baby, child or adult, do not say you’re sorry. Ask a question if you want to know something, but don’t assume their life is unfulfilled. You don’t know them. Thank you.

a baby girl sitting in her father's lap wearing a red onesie

This post originally appeared on Our Tiny Fighter.

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Originally published: May 1, 2015
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