Thursday, August 19, 2010

Answering Obnoxious Adoption Questions

From, Answers to Obnoxious Adoption Questions; noting new there, but notable because a mainstream parenting site is addressing the issue:

Along with the joy of adopting a child comes a stream of sometimes prying or hurtful questions. Be prepared with these brief and effective answers:

Is that your real child?

Yes. I'm a real parent raising a real child.

Are your kids from another country?

We're a family, so we live together.

* * *

He's so lucky to have been adopted.

We're the fortunate ones to be his parents.


Elizabeth@Romans8:15 said...

the really good thing about a mainstream parenting site running an article like this is that hopefully it will alert the potential-obnoxious-question askers as to what is not okay.

LisaLew said...

Ditto, Elizabeth. I've had each of those questions asked, some more than once.

Amanda said...

The problem is, people ask obnoxious questions because they do not know any better. I think these moments we all get frustrated when they're really teachable moments. I agree, it's good is addressing the issues but as an adoptee who has answered questions like these over and over again, I answer them a little differently.

I think there's a fine line between letting people know that they're being rude and explaining how they could word their questions better to get the information they are curious about...and responding in a way that makes them ashamed for asking making it likely that they won't ask again.

Only 2% of children in the U.S. are adopted. They have to go out each day surrounded by teachers, students, friends, other parents etc. --98% of which won't know what it's like. Every time someone asks a question is an opportunity for that 98% to learn something about adoption that they wouldn't normally have an opportunity to learn. The more education out there, the better that 2% of children will be treated by their peers :-)

JBH said...

Nice. WTG, And nice comment, Amanda.

Was just saying the same thing myself recently:

Mei Ling said...

Saying "No, *I'm* the lucky one to be parenting my child" doesn't alleviate the general idea that adoption means the child should be grateful or lucky to be alive.

It just doesn't.

LisaLew said...

Great points.

Mei-Ling - I think many AP's, including myself, feel we are the fortunate who are able to parent our children. So the answer comes from the heart.

As Amanda stated, most people aren't "trying" to impose. I think about who my audience is (my child and the person asking) and answer in a diplomatic, teachable fashion.

Do you have any other suggestions for the "you are so lucky" comment?

Anonymous said...

"My child had to give up a lot to be so lucky."

Reena said...

It is always easier to handle these questions from total strangers, I think, than casual acquantences.

Our Girls are still young and we are still working on all we need to do--have our responses in check and all that-- but sometimes you still get caught by surprise.

Stupid comments are also made to kids of divorce. soon after we adopted our first daughter, a *friend* of mine said to my stepdaughter-- oh you must be glad you are not at your dad's house all the time to hear the baby crying. Hmm-- she should be glad that her parents got a divorce?

Recently DH told me of a situation where a casual acquantence when hearing about the somewhat difficult transition of my stepkids to having new little sisters responded to my stepkids: you know they (me and DH) saved them (our daughters adopted from China). It was just DH and his kids and DH told her we don't view it that way.

Honestly-- saved them from what? Growing up in a country they were born to, where they would grow up being the majority instead of the minority?

We know these folks well enough to know they mean the best-- they just don't understand and it is really hard to educate people in the matter of a few minutes or even an evening on the complexities and full meaning of their comment.

Also recently for me-- a staff person at our community center that I tend to chat with here and there and who is always kind toward my daughters--all the kids--she-- asked if they were sisters.

Clearly they are-- she was asking if they were biological sisters. It was one of the those rushed moments where some other things going were agitating me-- the timing we always here about when this kind of stuff comes up.

I now have a new response for folks-- I'm not biologically related to anyone in my home-- including my husband!

Mei Ling said...

[Do you have any other suggestions for the "you are so lucky" comment?]

No. That's what adoption is - it's about being told to be grateful and/or lucky you're alive.

Having people imply a loving family is a privilege, you should be grateful you weren't aborted, you're so lucky to have parents who love you, comes with the adoption package, unfortunately.

However, I do thank Anonymous who responded to your question - although the point about "loss" will still be retorted with something like "But she has a NEW family now, so everything worked out."

It's like banging one's head against a wall. Several times.

Mei Ling said...

"So the answer comes from the heart."


But YOUR CHILD is going to have to answer to these statements ALL THE TIME. There are people who will say she is lucky she wasn't aborted or tossed into a dumpster. There are people who will say she is lucky her mother abandoned her just so she could be adopted. There are people who will say she is lucky to have a family.

It is inevitable.