Adoption Voices

I often struggle with how to discuss adoption lovingly and kindly with the ignorant. Those that ask where our daughter's "real parents" are or probe why we didn't try more fertility methods to have our "own" children.
What questions or comments do you encounter? How do you deal with them?

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I agree with Annie! It shocks most of my friends to hear that our daughter's adoption cost less than their pregnancy, vitamins, classes, labor, delivery, ect...I thank God for the adoption credit! It makes domestic adoption so affordable! After the credit, she "cost" us $1500! My friends would love that bill instead of theirs ;)

Annie Kitching said:
Well, if we are honest there a WAS a cost to getting our children! I don't mind talking about it at all. Particularly since my first born cost a heck of a lot more, since he was in intensive care for a month! Contrary to what I would have thought, when we took Sergei with us to adopt our younger son, he was really impressed by the idea that we'd paid that much for him! It actually seemed to raise his self-esteem.

I think that in a perfect world, those with hearts and homes open to children should be able to bring that child into their home without cost. But just like we have to pay the obstetrician and the midwife and the hospital, we have to pay the people that help us with adoption, too.

Angela Jackson said:
Hi, my husband and I adopted our daughter from Guatemala in 2004. Fortuntely, we haven't had too many of those comments. However, the first one and I'll never forget it was "how much did she cost"... I was flabergasted. I think I said something like " we don't view it that way" or something. I should have said she's priceless but I was just to shocked to think to say it. I am very much an adoption advocate and love to share the "process" involved, when asked the right way. I guess I've just accepted that there will always be people who don't think before they speak and to just chalk it up to ignorance.
When my daughter the Tongginator (yes, it's a nickname) was younger, I felt obligated to educate people. Now that my daughter is older (age 5) - and better able to understand the conversation - my priorities have shifted to teaching her how to respond appropriately and to protecting her privacy. I don't want to be rude in return, as I don't want my daughter to see and copy rudeness at a later date... I also want to reinforce our familial bond and protect her privacy.

A couple of tried and true responses that seem to fit most situations involve:

That's personal information. I'm surprised you felt comfortable asking it.
What do you mean by that?
It doesn't surprise me that YOU think/feel this way.

I also highly suggest others - when your child is age five or older - check out "The WISE Up Powerbook" by Marilyn Schoettle. It teaches adoptive children how to manage intrusive questions about their personal histories. I've used it with my daughter... we both love it!
I look at ignorant questions or statements as a chance to educate people because I really don't believe they have any idea of what they're saying.

If someone says, "Does he ever see his real mom?", I say, "yes, every morning when I wake him up!" I say it kindly and with a smile so that neither the person or my son (who's not deaf!) feels uncomfortable.

When they ask, "are you his biological mother?", I say, "my name is on his birth certificate!" That is usually the end of that conversation.

I think it's important to practice what you're going to say in advance so that you can be clever and lighten what could be some very uncomfortable moments. Always remember to protect he dignity and privacy of your child first!
I was asked if my son was a $30k baby at a wedding. I'm not sure what the best response is to that-I was so shocked. I know I didn't handle it correctly at all-I just said it was more money than that and turned away from the person. Totally none of their business and a terrible response on my part. Thank god my son had just turned 2 and didn't understand the conversation!
I'm an adoptee. But for me, it depends who it is. If it's someone worthwhile, then I try to discuss things as openly and as honestly as I can. But if it's someone that I don't really care about, I simply don't bother. I just leave them to their ignorant ways. XP
My wife and I adopted almost a year ago to the day from China. Understand we are both Tall (6'5 and 6'3) and did not fit in at all in China. My wife likes to tell people she was a "huge hit" in China because people kept coming up to her and wanted to have their pictures taken with her. As far as questions about the adoption are concerned, it really depends on who is asking. We have gone through most of the discussions with our inner circle. We explain the reasons we chose to do what we did. As far as others are concerned, we are both sarcastic by nature and both celebrate the differences in life. Our daughter is 3 and we now have a little ritual we go through. We ask her what her name is and the we follow by where are you from. She answers China and we say that's right. This cuts down on a lot of the questions. We also bought her a shirt that states " do not tell my parents but I do not look anything like them" We have been asked questions like "how does it feel not having real children of your own" to "why did you go overseas, aren't there enough needy children in the USA" Our answers differ depending on the mood. My personal favorite was when my wife turned to the lady that asked the "how does it feel question" and said, I was afraid if I had real children they would turn out like you. The bottom line is you have to have a sense of humor and thick skin. You cannot choose what questions are asked, you can only choose your reactions
Two to Me said:
I just got a comment yesterday. "It's hard enough to raise your own children, much less someone else's." These ARE my children!

I've gotten this and "I could never love a child who wasn't my own!" I always say something like "Oh yeah, thank God I'm raising my own child!"

The "own" thing is my hugest pet peeve. My child is as much my own as anyone else's child.
Oh my gosh! I can't believe that. I haven't heard that one before. Good response though. I'll have to remember "I just keep showing up"!

Christine said:
My daughter is almost 2 now, but when she was about three months, I was at a party and she began to cry when being held by someone else. Once I took her, she immediately stopped. A woman nearby that had just learned that I had adopted my daughter asked, "how do you think she knows you our her mom if you didn't give birth to her?". Can you imagine?! I responded by saying that I just kept showing up every day, and it must be working. It's hard at first b/c I think you want everyone to understand and fully appreciate your situation. As time goes by though, you learn that it just doesn't matter, and the love you have for your child is all you need. :-)
I think it's one of my biggest pet peeves too. Especially because I find it sneaking in so often without a thought.

Joy Cody said:
Two to Me said:
I just got a comment yesterday. "It's hard enough to raise your own children, much less someone else's." These ARE my children!

I've gotten this and "I could never love a child who wasn't my own!" I always say something like "Oh yeah, thank God I'm raising my own child!"

The "own" thing is my hugest pet peeve. My child is as much my own as anyone else's child.
Too funny! My sister adopted a 9 month old baby girl from China and a ton of people would ask is she spoke Chinese....um, she's a baby, she doesn't speak!

Danielle Ginther said:
That is HILARIOUS! What do they eat? Are people serious? Oh, wow! HAHAHA

Tony Baggett said:
The questions about the birth parents are intrusive, but I don't think most of the people mean any harm - they just do not realize it is an inappropriate question to ask. The comments that are most bothersome involve their health because since they are from Russia, most assume something is wrong with them. The most humorous question "What do they eat?" My answer - food.
When people ask questions...I answer them as honestly as I can. I never want my DD to think that I am ashamed that she is adopted. I have found that most people just are curious. They don't mean to be hurtful.
People who assume that children are gifts and that adoption is a pure blessing. A child loses its family and parental and ancestral history and a mother loses her child, in some cases never to see them again. Imagine how that feels? Its not as simple as all of that. A persons genetic history is important - why else would millions of people research their family trees? When an adoptive parent says 'i am her only mother' that denies the existence of the women who gave their child life and half of their DNA. Possessiveness and adoptive parent centred adoption really p***** me off. It should be about the child, and the children who NEED to be adopted, not sold by adoption agencies who want to make money money money and coerce vulnerable and confused women into giving their babies up. I am not against adoption when it is necessary, i am against denying the child information about who their parents are and adoptive parents believing they own their adoptive children. They will ALWAY be someone elses natural child and they will always have that bond with them, whatever you think.
I have never told my adoptive parents how I feel, they believe I am fine with everything. In my teens i got very depressed and now in my twenties it makes me sad that i do not know my natural parents. So respect the fact that although an adoptee might not be torturing animals or setting fires, they may be hurting inside and be too afraid of hurting your feelings to tell you how they feel.

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