Many people are kindhearted yet uneducated about the semantics of adoption. Other people have good intentions but take a thoughtless approach to satisfying their curiosity.
And then there are some people who are simply insensitive.
Here’s a little advice about what NOT to say to an adoptive parent (sense of humor recommended!):
1. What happened to her real parents?
Didn’t know I was a fake parent. I assume you meant her biological parents. And this is a highly personal question.
2. Is she American? (code for, is she white?)
Her dad and I are citizens of the U.S., and so is she.
3. How much did she cost?
You have to be kidding me. Do I ask you how much you spent on lingerie, wine, dinner and whatnot on the night you conceived? Again, a highly personal and inappropriate question.
4. Can you have kids of your own?
She is my own. As to whether or not I can have biological children, I’ll answer if the conversation is in the context of a potentially meaningful relationship. If we happen to be standing in line together in the grocery store and you asked me why my daughter doesn’t look like me, and she says to you, “I’m adopted”, this does not entitle you to ask me about the inner workings of my body. Quite frankly, if I were to answer with the whole agonizing story, it would be an inappropriate level of personal disclosure with someone I don’t know. I like healthy boundaries (except on my blog, of course).
5. Have you told her she’s (look both ways furtively and drop your voice to a whisper) adopted?
Yes. It’s not like telling her she is a criminal.
6. Does she have any problems?
Are you smoking crack? A) everyone has problems, and B) another highly inappropriate and personal question.
7. Does she ask about her real mom?
I am real. I am her mom. She asks how I am every morning. And she does also talk about her birthmother.
8. Do your other kids treat her like their sister?
Well, yeah. She is their sister. Did you really just ask me that?
9. Did you hear about so and so’s adoption horror story?
Gee, when you announced you were having a baby, did you want people to launch into the most horrifying outcomes they could think of? Try saying, Congratulations, and I am so happy for you.
10. Wow, you got lucky. She’s normal.
Normal is just a setting on the dryer around here, babe. And, yes, we are incredibly lucky to have her.
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