Mothers of adopted children get used to nosy, obnoxious, and sometimes ignorant questions from strangers—especially when their child is a different race. Here are some common, albeit shockingly inappropriate, questions that I have encountered and that moms of adopted children have shared with me. If you are in the process of adopting a child, anticipating these sorts of questions can better help you deal with these situations. For fun, I’ve put together a variety of possible responses, depending on the mother’s level of patience. If a stranger asks a question in front of your child who is preschool age, your best line of defense may be to ignore the question and distract your child, as they will absorb the conversation.
Sweet Sarah: She believes in attacking negativity with a positive, sunny attitude, gently deflecting the question. After all, people who ask inappropriate questions generally mean no harm.
Encyclopedia Ellen: She believes she has a responsibility to educate nosy people about adoption, and she never misses an opportunity.
Fed Up Frances: She is so over it with the endless questions and is quick to let the Curious Cathys know they crossed the line.
Q: Your daughter is adorable. How much did she cost?
Sarah: Thank you! She’s priceless!
Ellen: We paid reasonable fees to the adoption professionals who helped us get our daughter home. Obviously we did not buy our baby, and I’m sure you’re not suggesting that we did.
Frances: On what planet would that be any of your business?
Q: Your daughter is adorable. What is she?
Sarah: Thank you! We think she’s pretty cute too!
Ellen: Our daughter’s ethnic background? She’s African-American, Middle Eastern, and Eastern European with a dash of Native American.
Frances: I’m sorry, do I know you?
Q: Your daughter is adorable. Planning to have kids of your own someday?
Sarah: Thank you! For now, we’re happy to have this child of our own!
Ellen: Actually, our adopted child is our own child, legally and in every other way.
Frances: Yeah, the eight rounds of failed fertility treatment were so much fun, we’ll probably be heading back to the clinic as soon as this child, who isn’t our own, hits preschool.
Q: Your daughter is adorable. Why didn’t you adopt from foster care? So many of those kids need homes.
Sarah: Thank you! We are lucky to have found exactly the right child for our family!
Ellen: How a couple decides to build their family is a personal decision. We looked into all our options and decided on the best path for us.
Frances: Fabulous idea! You should do that.
Q: Your daughter is adorable. How do you know she wasn’t stolen?
Sarah: Thank you! She does look cute enough to steal, doesn’t she?
Ellen: We went through all the proper legal channels, as do the vast majority of families who choose adoption. Unfortunately, it’s the few bad apples that end up on the evening news.
Frances: Wow, what kind of questions do you ask people you actually know?
Q: Your daughter is adorable. Aren’t you afraid her mother is going to try to take her back?
Sarah: Thank you! I’m her mother, actually, so I don’t have to worry about it!
Ellen: Birthmothers very rarely try to reclaim their biological children, because adoption was what they decided was best. In an extremely rare case, when a birthmother does have a change of heart down the road, there are laws to protect the adoptive family.
Frances: Newsflash. Lifetime movies are not documentaries.
Q: Your daughter is adorable. Are you going to tell her she’s adopted?
Sarah: Thank you! We’re proud of her heritage and plan to tell her all about it.
Ellen: The days of closed, secretive adoptions are in the past. These days, parents are usually very open with their children about adoption, because there is nothing wrong with it.
Frances: No, we thought we’d wait until she looks in a freakin mirror and figures it out.
Q: Your daughter is adorable. You know now that you adopted you’ll get pregnant, right?
Sarah: Thank you! I’m sure she would love a little brother or sister!
Ellen: Actually, that is a myth that adoptive parents often get pregnant. It happens occasionally by coincidence. Infertility is a disease, and adoption is not a cure.
Frances: You think? I had a full hysterectomy at twenty-six, but maybe there are some new medical advances I’m not aware of?