Two of my kids are adopted from China. After two years of parenting children who “don’t match” me, I’m still surprised by the willingness of strangers to approach me and ask personal questions. They usually aren’t trying to be rude but some of the stuff people ask is annoying.
Here are my 12 most annoying adoption questions (and yes, there are more than 12).
1. Do they know they’re adopted?
My kids are clearly Asian. If you are halfway sober or have an IQ above 50, you will pick up on the fact that my husband and I are not Asian. We’re banking on the kids eventually figuring out they come from a different gene pool. In all seriousness, we talk about adoption all the time. Our children know they’re from China and that we chose them to be in our family. We’ll add more detail as they grow up, but this covers things for now. The “A” word is not taboo at our house.
2. Do you know Angelina Jolie? No, really — do you?
Sadly, I don’t. I don’t know Jillian Michaels or Madonna, either. I know they adopted kids “from foreign countries” too, but I still don’t know them. Really. If I did, I’d name-drop and go to better parties.
3. Can’t you have your own kids?
The kids you see are my own. They woke me at five-thirty this morning demanding Scooby Doo and Fruit Loops. One day, the fact that people see them as anything other than my own might bother them. People probably don’t think about that when they ask if I can “have my own.” And… do you realize you just asked me about my uterus?
4. Where are their real parents?
I know people mean birth or biological parents. I won’t beat someone up for word choices but they might take offense at my answer: it’s none of your business.
My children’s birth parents chose life but chose not to parent. We don’t talk about specifics outside our family. This may be a tender subject someday. It may not be, but until they’re old enough to decide how this info is shared, we keep it private.
5. Where did you get them?
I usually answer with some form of “they’re from China” because I know that’s what the question really is. I am always tempted to say “Costco” and watch the looks on people’s faces.
6. How much did they cost?
Is that your real hair color? Your eyebrows don’t match your hair, and what is that on your chin? A birthmark or a zit?
Seriously, if you’re curious about the cost of adoption, Google it or contact any adoption agency. This answer is dedicated to the lady who asked this question while I was buying panties at Target. When you’re on vacation, forget underwear and have two jet-lagged kids screaming in stereo in the store, this is exactly the kind of question you want.
7. Are they good at math?
They’re four. They can count to ten (one can count to seventeen but he skips all numbers between eleven and sixteen). If they aren’t doing algebra by first grade, I’ll start worrying. I haven’t spent time pondering whether genetics influence math skills. Maybe they have a shot since I really suck at math.
8. So many American kids need families, why didn’t you adopt from here?
Most of the “so many” American kids that need families are in the foster care system and not adoptable. Most domestic adoptions are infant adoptions (the family is chosen by the birth mom). More families want newborns than there are newborns to adopt. I could go on for days about why we chose foreign adoption, but the short answer is that there actually are not a lot of children available for adoption in the U.S.
9. How lucky they are!
It’s sad that we call kids lucky because they have what all kids deserve: food, medical care, and love. If you tell me my kids are lucky, you probably get a thank you and a smile. I’m leery of going down this conversational road because I never want my kids to think they should be grateful to be in our family or that they owe me something because I’m their mom (other than eternal obedience).
10. Do they speak Asian?
If you don’t already know “Asian” isn’t a language, I probably don’t possess the patience to explain.
11. Do they eat dog?
Why yes, do you have one?
My kids eat mac and cheese. They eat veggies without bribery (now that’s lucky). I don’t know if they ate dog before they came to our family, but thank you for giving me something new to wonder about. Seriously, never ask this. It’s just wrong, and what would you gain if someone said yes?
12. Now that you’ve adopted, do you think you’ll get pregnant?
That would be a neat trick since I’m missing some key lady parts. Asking this question assumes I have the necessary equipment to conceive and that said equipment is in working order. It also assumes I want to get pregnant. Not everyone adopts because they can’t have babies. Some people have strong feelings about bringing more kids into the world or providing a home to a child who needs a family. Maybe it’s best not to assume.
So there you have it. Sometimes I don’t mind questions or the opportunity to educate. But sometimes I do. My unwillingness to answer personal questions doesn’t mean I’m unfriendly or ashamed of my family’s story. Curiosity doesn’t equal entitlement. Stop and think for a minute before you ask that question — besides, you might get more than you want to hear. I would love to see the look on someone’s face if I suddenly launched into a play-by-play about my lady parts.
How have you handled an uncomfortable personal question?
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