Guest Post: 10 Things NOT to Say to An Adoptive Parent

Okay, so my dear friend who writes a blog called Bringing Home Baby#2 recently wrote a blog post about how it feels to be an adoptive mother. In it, she included some of the conversations she has endured with people, who probably had no idea that they were being rude. When I was reading it, I immediate began to scan my brain for dumb things I might have said back when we were first getting to know each other.  So, I asked her if she would mind putting together a list of some of her favorite conversational gems and here’s what she had to say…

Being the parent of children adopted across racial lines tends to put my family in a bit more noticeable light.  Since we don’t “blend” people tend to become aware of us when we’re out and about.  And that’s fine, my kiddos are rather adorable and I’d probably take a second gander myself.  But often the line gets crossed and questions get asked or personal assumptions are spoken.  So here is my top ten list of what not to say when you see a family like mine.

1.  How much did they cost?

Priceless is my usual answer.  But really, adoption is done from love and simple desire to build a family.  Although there are fees involved no parent wants to talk about forming their family as business transaction.  I always like to think of it as my kids didn’t cost anything, the act of adopting them did.

2. Are they real brother and sister?

There is a difference in definition between “real” and “biological” but with family those definitions blur.  In our case they are both quite real even though they do not share the same DNA.  So no, they are not biological but trust me, that does not make them any less real brother and sister.

3. How wonderful of you, to take in an orphaned child like that!

Yep, that’s me…savior of all lost babies.  No, not really.  Some days I feel selfish about taking them away from their birth culture and beautiful countries.  But we wanted children and the
path we took to have our family was through adoption.   So my kids didn’t need saving, they simply needed a family.

4. Oh….are they your kids?

I love this one – of course they are mine!  Why in the world I would subject myself to taking two wild kids through a crowded grocery store after an already exhausting day to deal with all the
whines, demands and tantrums just so I can get staples to make dinner if they were someone else’s?  Do people do that for fun?

5. Where did they come from?

Why should that matter to a complete stranger?  They are obviously of Asian descent, so unless you’re from some part of Asia and you want to compare notes about our travels it shouldn’t make a difference to you.   It’s seems to compare with me asking where you were when you conceived your kids…..

6. Can’t you have any kids of your own?

Hoo boy-where to start with this one.   There really are some questions just too personal to ask folks.   I can’t imagine running through my medical history and stages of infertility with a complete stranger, or that one would expect me to! Yet this is one of the top questions I get asked.  Seriously.
*And for the record, I do consider them “my own”.

7. Why didn’t you get an American baby?

I’d like to say “Cause these Asian ones are so darned cute”, but that’s not really true.  There are so many (personal) reasons we chose to adopt internationally instead of domestic it would take too long to cover in the paint aisle or at a dance recital.

8. I’ve heard about all the problems adopted kids come with…

Please don’t lump my darlings into your idea of adoption based on horrid news stories of RAD or abusive conditions in orphanages.  Our boring and rather normal existence isn’t newsworthy so you never hear about that more positive side of it.  Yet a majority of adopted families I know are just like us – no problems or issues – just living normal lives just like any biologically formed families.

9. Aren’t you afraid the real parents will try to get them back?

First of all, not a day passes without me feeling that I am the real parent.  And secondly, our adoptions were done in an ethical manner with all of the proper steps taken to guarantee the birth parents relinquished all rights legally and fully. But thanks for stirring up that old fear….

10. We would have adopted if we couldn’t have had any of our own.

This is always said with that conspiratorial nod like we’re in this together or something. Please oh please, don’t compare our lives -would have is not equal to doing.  I am sure the thought of adoption does cross many peoples’ minds in their lives.  But actually going through it to form your family (even with bio kids already or later) is a whole other thing.   And the fact that having kids biologically trumped the adoption just points out how different our paths to family are.

I’m blessed to have my wonderful children and I truly love the story of how we became us.  If you’re family or a close friend than you most likely know that story well.  And I have no problem sharing our adoptions with people who can actually benefit from knowing it.  But if you run into me and my family, or one like ours, a pleasant hello is all we ask for and I promise we’ll give your family the same respect.


QingLu Mama

2 Responses to Guest Post: 10 Things NOT to Say to An Adoptive Parent

  1. ravyn February 25, 2012 at 11:04 pm #

    I can’t believe people actually say things like those you mentioned! I almost want to apologize for them. Sheesh!

    Also, great point about the only adoptive family situations that make the news are the bad ones and how that misinforms the public about all the “problems” adopted kids come with. Thanks for sharing your viewpoint.

    • Jennifer February 29, 2012 at 11:13 am #

      Thanks Ravyn!
      Most folks aren’t intentionally being rude, just curious. But it does put me on the defense, especially when done in front of the kids!

      Thanks for reading my guest post. Heather’s is such a great blog and I’m glad to “meet” you through it!

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