Tuesday, September 20, 2011

10 Things NOT to Say to Adoptive Parents

Yet another list of things not to say to adoptive parents at ChicagoNow:
1. What happened to her real parents?

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2. Is she American? (code for, is she white?)

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3. How much did she cost?

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4. Can you have kids of your own?

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5. Have you told her she’s (look both ways furtively and drop your voice to a whisper) adopted?

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6. Does she have any problems?

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7. Does she ask about her real mom?

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8. Do your other kids treat her like their sister?

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9. Did you hear about so and so’s adoption horror story?

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10. Wow, you got lucky. She’s normal.

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So how many of these have you gotten?  How did you answer?  Go here to see the answers the author suggests.  Would you use these answers?  Why or why not?  Discuss thoroughly.  Extra points for snark. (Sorry, for a minute there I lapsed into teacher mode!)


CompassionMama said...

Even though we are still two months away from meeting out daughter in China, I have already gotten several of these questions. As much as the snarky answers make me laugh, I tend to believe the best of people and their motives and try to answer simply and kindly. However, I want to keep some of these in my back pocket for when the rude people are persistent.

Anonymous said...

Did she just get here?

No lie this is what someone asked me while we were in line at Walmart because they thought my black daughter was Jamaican. She was born in Milwaukee.

wpusey said...

Personally I wouldn't find any of these to be offensive. We find that many people are just curious about the process of adoption... I have yet to find a person that is really out to be truly offensive or mean to cause harm.

Jen said...

Sounds about right. I think I have heard all of those before. Thanks for the humorous look at the worlds view of adoption. ~ jen

Sharon said...

I've heard five out of ten. Many people are curious. Some are just rude and nosy.

Linda said...

LOL! My ap's heard many of these. They still get the "Who does she look like" question if they show a family picture of us all together.
One time, when asked "Do your other kids treat her like their sister?", my a Mom replied, "Yes. They hate her just as much as they would had she been born to me." Go Mom...sometimes her snark shines through, too!

Adoptees are asked many of the same questions. They don't really bother me.

Anonymous said...

In some ways the worst of the bunch is the "you got so lucky" comment. It presumes that most, if not all, adopted children suffer some secret fatal flaw that is inherent or simply has yet to manifest itself. That they are amazing in spite of their adoptive status. Makes my blood boil more than a bit!

We had close friends who after knowing and loving our completely wonderful and normal child, blurted out one day that she finally understood what a dark cloud of doom we must live under, knowing one day our child's hereditary burden will unfold, after her own child suffered from moderate anxiety attacks. ( her bio. child) I was stunned to think that after all this time they labored under the notion that the "other shoe would drop one day"...so to speak.

How sad for them. And honestly? Does any child come with a guarantee, adopted or bio.? Would we love them any less if issues do arise? Geesh.

Oh well...sometimes all you can do is chuckle and feel sorry for their ignorance. (though I was NOT laughing that day!)

However I would add for those who only find humor in those remarks or believe all folks to be altruistic in their curiousity....it becomes less amusing when your child reaches an age when they clearly intuit the racism, ignorance or plain mean behind the question.

But those questions do create a fabulous springboard for talking to our kids about tolerance, race, adoptive preconceptions, etc. and helping them to prepare for those instances of handling these issues when a parent is not present.

Thanks Malinda ~ a bit of snarky can go a long way sometimes! ;)


OmegaMom said...

I actually *did* get the "Have you told her she's (hushed voice & peering around) adopted?" question once. I'm afraid I just blinked in astonishment at the person asking, then said, gently, "Well, she *is* from China. It's kind of obvious, don't you think?"

One that's missing: "Does she speak English?"/"Does she speak Chinese?" when she was all of one year old. HellOOOO! She's ONE YEAR OLD. She can't speak *any* language, thankyewverramuch.

Anonymous said...

I've only gotten the 'How much did cost?" and that was a long time ago. I hate it when people say that she's lucky. I'd like to know how that would even enter their minds. She now has what all children should have but look at what she's lost!

Anne said...

Okay, I just have to share this one even though if you knew the people involved, you really wouldn't hold it against them. These people, whom I really like, are not particularly sophisticated or educated. Once when I was walking into the school to pick up my daughter, the grandmother (who is actually younger than me) screamed AT THE TOP OF HER LUNGS: "Hey, we have a friend who wants to adopt. How much did it cost to adopt Mae?". And then proceeded to ask a whole bunch of other inappropriate questions.

My other favorite story, which I may have posted here before, comes from a friend of mine who also has an adopted Chinese daughter. She was at a grocery store when an African American woman walked up to her and said "aw honey, what was the matter, you couldn't adopt a white baby"!!!

And then I guess the only other one was the guy who walked up to me at McDonald's and said "Korean"? I was like excuse me, Korean what? I thought that was really rude. I really believe most people mean well, but are basically cluess, but that guy pissed me off.

Anonymous said...

Since I have four, I often get the question, "Are any of them related?" ROFL!!!

Anne said...

One more thing, since my post was a little off tangent. I went back and read what the author suggested for responses. I personally don't advocate the snark approach (not that I don't love being snarky and bitchy). Most people are completely clueless about adoption. And really, why wouldn't they be. Adopted people are a minority number wise. I try to answer the question I think they are really asking, while doing a little bit of education as well. However, if they continue in total doofus vein, then all gloves come off.

Reagan said...

The worst comment I ever received was when I was holding my 3 year old daughter and an older "gentleman" stopped me and said "ya know, they kill the girls over there in China."
I told him that obviously he is mistaken and walked off before I said what was really on my mind!

Anonymous said...

My favorite came when my Pacific Islander daughter was an infant. Three trips to the grocery store in a row a random woman would look at my daughter, look at me, look at my daughter and finally (and each time it was the exact same wording) say, "What *is* your husband?"

Fist time I explained adoption. Second time I gave a brief explanation. Third time I said, "He's an engineer" and moved my cart to another aisle.

As my kids are getting older, I've found that my tendency to believe the best of people asking inappropriate questions is not always what serves my kids. Sometimes it's good for them to see that you don't have to answer and you don't have to tolerate rudeness.

The worst was when my daughter's teacher asked me-- while I was volunteering in the classroom with the kids present-- how much my daughter cost. If you work with kids, there's really no excuse for not recognizing that's wrong.

Anonymous said...

As an AP, I have always felt that adoption is my children's story and that their feelings are paramount. Therefore, when they were young I would respond, "I don't share my family's personal information." Now that my son is older and we are asked personal questions, I ask him, "Do you want to answer this person's personal questions our would you like to be private?" Then he has me to help if he needs it, but he gets to control the situation as he sees fit. This also lets nosy people know that they may not get what they seek; they usually back off at that point. My family is not an adoption agency; we don't owe anyone any personal information. In addition, I hope to teach my children to not accept being treated like second class citizens by rude, nosy, inappropriate people.

Ashley said...

We've gotten so many of these! I have found that most people don't mean to be offensive. They're just curious and don't know that what they are saying in absolutely horrifying to us! I try to very calmly just explain for them. Some may think that I'm over-sharing or telling details that are best left for my daughters to share when they are ready (if they choose). I look at it as though the more people I can educate and explain adoption to, the more adoption-friendly the world that my children live in is. And that's the best I can do. :)

Anonymous said...

THe worst was when a complete ignoramus asked me in front of my daughter.. But why didn't her parents want her?

Staggering sometimes how insensitive people can be. And I was forced to explain this wasn't true.. that in China often birthmothers don't have the choices we do to keep their children.

THen i had to talk to my daughter again and reinforce how much I loved and wanted her and explain how and why this likely isn't true.

How anyone could ask such a heartless question to anyone is beyond me.

Mahmee said...

I have to disagree with the fact that people have good intentions with these questions. I think a lot of these complete strangers that feel it's OK to make these comments are basically rude and stupid (hey, you wanted snark). And yes, I have had each and every one from the list and then some. It is NOT OK for people to ask some of this stuff. It's never occured to me to ask a complete stranger how much they weigh (for example) and that is nothing compared to some of the crap these strangers say to us IN FRONT OF OUR CHILDREN - who can hear them. It's perfectly OK to respond with, 'why do you think that's any of your business?', 'it's not OK to ask me that', or 'back off before I put my foot up your ass!'.

Wendy said...

I am going with Mahmee. MOST of the time people do NOT have good or innocent intentions. I would say in our case maybe 2 out 10 and that is being generous. Much of we get has a lot of racist tones. Ignore, educate, and tell them to stay out of your business.

bethee said...

When people ask me specific information about our son (who is from Russia) I tell them that his Social Worker was generous enough to give us his file; however, it is written in Russian, and until our son asks for this information himself, it will not be translated because it is not our business, it is his.

This is not true, as we know all the information, but people back off immediately when they really realize its none of their business.