Many adoptive couples get asked prying and inappropriate questions and comments regarding their adoption. A few examples are:
"So, are they really siblings since one is adoptive?"
"Why don’t you have your own kids?"
"Where are their real parents?"
"She's so fortunate that you adopted her!"
"I heard adoption is really expensive, how did you afford it?!"
"I thought that all adoptive kids come with problems."
These questions are invasive and disrespectful, and when asked in front of your children, precarious. Oftentimes, people often ask personal details about your adoption, even if they’re well-intentioned and curious.
As an adoptive mother, I’ve heard many inappropriate adoption questions and statements. They started before my husband and I even adopted! While were waiting to be chosen by a birth mother, I came to dread holiday gatherings. There was always someone asking us humiliating questions. Getting dressed before one New Year's Eve party, we took bets on how many insults we'd hear that night. He said 10, and that was about right. The topper was when my grandpa asked at the dinner table, "Haven't you figured out how to do it yet?" I answered with a smile, "We lost that page of the manual," though his words had pierced me to the bone.
I’ve been asked prying adoption questions while shopping at the grocery store, going through the security line at the airport, or even while dining out. My husband and I were asked about adoption by teachers, police officers, doctors, our son’s activity teachers, restaurant servers, and many more.
In my experience, the best way adoptive parents can answer inappropriate questions is to be direct and keep it short. I feel that as adoptive parents, it’s our job is to cherish and lovingly raise our children, not give the details of our adoption stories to strangers. I’ve included three tips below of how to answer peoples’ questions and comments about adoption:
- “It seems like you’re interested in adoption. Here’s a resource.” Then give the person a book about adoption (such as one of my books, Called to Adoption or So I Was Thinking About Adoption.) Or, you can provide them with the website and contact info of your adoption professional. I always keep business cards with me at all times, just in case.
- “That’s part of our family’s private life.” This short sentence lets the asker know that they’re being invasive. With this statement, you’re protecting your family’s personal life while also challenging and responding directly to the person’s question. If your children are nearby, it also shows them that you’re unremorseful about protecting their privacy.
- “Isn’t the weather wonderful today?” With this one, you basically just change the subject. Yes, this is dodging their question, but also lets them know that you aren’t interested in answering inappropriate questions about your family’s story. In addition, it can give the asker a chance to reconsider if their question or comment is appropriate.
Know that when you decline to answer people’s prying adoption questions, you aren’t being impolite. You’re being self-assured, and showing both the asker and your child that some questions are too personal to just answer to everyone who asks. For more adoption tips, sign up for Lifetime's FREE webinar series all about open adoption: