It's fairly common to ask someone if their spouse is very tall or tan skinned like your child is when you are obviously not. There is really nothing wrong with that question. I do have a really hard time answering those questions though. I don't like to just bring up our family information to total strangers. Especially when I'm with my children and I don't know what type of follow up questions or responses a stranger will throw at me. I want to protect my kids. I want to not have to explain it all of the time. I'd like to think everyone sees adoption as this beautiful dream come true just like me, but sadly that is not always the case.
Sometimes people ask questions in order to appear sociable and friendly. Sometimes these questions are based on first appearances and obvious curiosity. Sometimes the questions are personal and sometimes they are TOO personal. With a blended family such as mine, sometimes these questions can be a source of frustration, anger, hurt, or annoyance. Let me talk about some of the questions which are just NOT OK to ask an adoptive parent.
"Are you hoping to get pregnant now that you have adopted?" -Seriously...stop asking people this question! Either you are asking a woman who is hurting because of infertility or who chose to adopt in place of giving birth. Both situations make this a dumb question.
"Does your child ask about his/her real parents?" -Adoptive parents ARE REAL. Pinch us, we'll scream.
"Does your baby cry because he/she misses her/his real mom?" - The only mother my kids know is me. Again, I am REAL!
"Did you adopt because you couldn't have your own baby?" - My children are my OWN babies. Beyond that, the question is incredibly personal, so myob.
"Are the both yours?"
"Wait, they are both yours? They look nothing alike!" - We have a great UPS guy.
"With the same dad?" - Who the ____ do you take me to be? I am married to one man.
And let's not forget the things people say just to volunteer information...
"You know that now that you have adopted you are bound to have your own baby." -This is factually wrong, emotionally really hurtful and an incredibly personal thing to say to someone. You have no idea what brought someone to the road of adoption. This is the most personal of territory, I don't ask questions about strangers sex lives do you?
"I always hear horror stories of birthparents taking their kids back."- Again, wrong. Also, stupid. Why do people think that adoptive parents want to hear horror stories about adoption?
"Well bless your heart, you saved a child." - I didn't save a child, my children saved me.
"You must be an amazing person for taking in someone else's child." -Again, they are my own, and I am not special because I adopted. I have had special circumstances and adoption is the road we chose.
Oh I could go on and on...I've gotten strange questions, rude comments, confused glances and even stares. Most of this in front of my kids. I am a very open and honest type of person so I tend to just blurt out truths, but now I am having to be careful of how I talk about things with total strangers. It's like my Aunt told me once about her son and his adoption story " it is his story to tell, when he is comfortable and wants to tell it". This put it into perspective for me. I don't have to tell the world when they ask why my son looks nothing like his father that he is adopted. I don't have to explain to a stranger why my kids look nothing like each other. I may want to so that people don't assume I'm a slut who sleeps around...(which trust me, by their looks and stares I am pretty sure that is what they are thinking). I also don't like to tell un-truths so I try to just be straightforward and only give as much information as is necessary without being rude.
The truth is, my kids saved me. They made my world seem right again. I thought that I would never realize the dream of becoming a mom and through adoption my dream came true. The truth is, they are my own. I am their mother. I am the only mother they will ever have. I did not give birth to them and they do not carry any of my DNA (which sometimes I think is a great blessing for them!). I have been there from the first day of their precious life, loving them, holding them, feeding them, changing their diaper and mopping up vomit. They are not second best. They are the best thing that has ever happened to my husband and I . Anyone who thinks they couldn't love a child that wasn't genetically like them, well, they are not cut out to be adoptive parents. They are also self obsessed in my opinion. Why do you have to be like someone in order to love them?
My advice to those of you who get asked questions that violate your privacy or make you feel angry, educate. Tell people about adoption. Be an advocate and stand up for it. Not everyone understands. Not everyone knows someone who has been touched by adoption. Most of the hurtful comments I have experienced have come from people who are totally uneducated about adoption. Sometimes though, it is OK to change the subject. It is OK to say "that is a personal question". It is OK to use humor too. My friend who reciently adopted told me how her social worker said that she answers personal questions with personal questions like " how many orgasms have you had this week?". I know it is harder to use humor when you are upset or hurting but sometimes humor is what it takes.