WHAT did you just ask me???

The other day, I went to the doctors’ office for my annual physical. As the nurse escorted me into the examination room, she started going through my chart and asking routine questions such as weight, height and the date of my last menstrual period. Then she asked how many children I had.

“Just one,” I responded, “A 3-year-old.”

“And did you have any problems during his pregnancy or labor?”

“Oh, no, he’s adopted.”

Her eyebrows shot up.

“Why? Could you not have babies or something like that?” she asked in a chatty, excited tone.

I was a bit taken aback. This wasn’t starting to sound very medical at all.

“We were unable to conceive, yes.”

“Was it expensive?”

Ok, this was DEFINITELY not medical, and frankly none of her business anyway. I was really starting to get uncomfortable, but decided to chalk up her behavior to her immaturity (she looked very, very young) and give her the benefit of the doubt.

“Yes, it was expensive.”

“Like, how much?”

I squirmed in my seat, considering several scathing options. In the end, though, I just looked her straight in the eye and said “Like, very.”

I could see she wanted to pursue the matter further, but must have realized I wasn’t going to give her any more infomarion because she let the matter drop.

“So did you ever meet the real mom?”

I took a deep breath, trying to remain calm and willing the rage boiling inside me not to surface.

“I AM his real mom. But if you mean his biological mom, then no, we did not meet her.”

“You know, I thought about it once.”

“Adopting a child?”

“No, you know, like being a surrogate or something. I even looked into donating my eggs, but in the end I decided I just couldn’t do it. I couldn’t go around knowing there was a little piece of me somewhere out there, you know?”

As my jaw dropped in shock, she cheerfully announced that she had all the infomation she needed and that the doctor would be there shortly and left the room.

I wish I could say this was an isolated incident, chalk it up to her immaturity and her obvious lack of tact. Unfortunately, as an adoptive parent, these kind of questions and coversations occur far too frequently in my life. People seem to think that, because I am open about the fact that I’ve adopted, I will therefore be open about every other aspect of my life, including our struggles to conceive.

While I am a fierce advocate of adoption and feel no shame or regrets about the fact that we were unable to have a biological child, I do not necessarily feel it is appropriate to discuss other aspects of our personal lives, including the cost of our adoption, with total strangers. I understand people are curious about how expensive an adoption really is, but there are ways of finding out this information without asking a total stranger how much money they spent in pursuit of having a family. No one would ak the same question of a person who went through fertility treatments or IVF, so why would an adoption be any different?

Unfortunately, I know this will not be the last time I have one of these encounters. I always hope that on the ‘next one’ I will be able to educate the person on which questions about adoption are inappropriate to ask, but I am always so taken aback by their crassness that by the time I can speak it is already too late. The situation has passed.

Since I am so slow in coming up with appropriate responses, I did some research and found this article on AdoptiveFamilies.com, which I found very interesting and infomative, so I thought I’d share it with all of you. Hope you enjoy it!


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  • the gaul of people never ceases to amaze me. Scott's blonde, Norwegian aunt adopted two Korean girls. People would actually tell her how much they look like her!!! Seriously? Time to get the teflon suit on and let it slide off, or get some snazzy comebacks. But this comes from the quees of thinking of a snapy comeback, 2 hours later!

  • In reply to kmccarron:

    I DO need some snazzy comebacks, but like you, I am one of those that can't come up with a comeback until hours after the incident. If any of our readers have any suggestions as to good comebacks, let me know!

  • In reply to kmccarron:

    A la mayoria de las personas les gusta averiguar para despues criticar o hacer algun comentario fuera de lugar. No tienes porque estar dando explicaciones a la gente. Como tu bien lo citastes: La verdadera madre es quien los cria no quien los pare.

  • In reply to Valmir:

    Gracias, Brito! :-)

  • In reply to Valmir:

    Cuando uno es joven piensa que tener gemelos seria bien chic y maravilloso. Luego al crear el primer hijo cambiamos de opinion por la responsabilida y el trabajo que conlleva. Al igual que la adopcion, pensamos que eso seria maravilloso y a todos nos pasa por la mente, pero al madurar reconocemos que es una responsabilidad seria y costosa. Hablando de la chica, pienso que la ignorancia es atrevida.

  • In reply to Valmir:

    Definitivamente que lo es. Ojala que no le salgo con esos tipos de comentarios a otros pacientes!

  • In reply to Valmir:

    Wow.....what an unpleasant experience, Khadine. Sadly, not too surprising....being adopted myself, I've had similar conversations over the past 30 years. Society has made some progress in understanding/ embracing the realities of adoption....still some distance to go, clearly.

  • In reply to kathikubal:

    You're right, Kathi, society still has a ways to go re: its views on adoption, but at least it's getting better. I bet you have enough of these stories to fill out several entries! (Hmm...perhaps you'd like to guest blog???)

  • In reply to Valmir:

    How about asking them to spill their sex life secrets first--since they feel the need to discuss such private matters--have them go first?

    Or just answer them so strangely, they have no idea how to respond--like--Oh since we couldn't adopt rescue grayhounds, we took this approach. Or I like cheese. Floor them.

    If they are truly interested, recommend them to a site and tell them perhaps Miss Manners could help them with their other issues.

    I had an ultrasound lady tell me before the doctor that my baby had a cyst on my neck and I could still consider terminating the pregnancy--My response was, You just showed me a heartbeat--that is not an option for me.

  • In reply to Honch4:

    I love your answers! Definitely will keep them in mind for next time. You're gooood with comebacks! :-)

    What a terrible experience with that ultrasound technician. I hope you reported her to the doctor (although I didn't report my nurse).

    Thanks for reading and commenting! :-)

  • In reply to Honch4:


    I am so sorry this happened to you. How awful. I was cringing the entire time I read your piece. What a powerful entry, and the fact that you shared this horrible encounter, makes it even more so.

    There are some truly uncouth people in this world. That, we cannot change. However, figuring out what to say the next time, could really make a difference for the person who comes after you. The next uncouth person who approaches you like this, should really learn his/her lesson. No one needs to be exposed to ignorant behavior.

    I would think you could still report her. Would that make a difference? Probably not in your case(although, you might get a tinge of revenge sort of happiness out of it:), but it certainly would, we can hope, make a difference for the next unsuspecting soul who is forced to encounter this horrible nurse.

    Again, so sorry. I have forwarded your piece with a couple other friends who have adopted children. Perhaps your entry can help them.

  • In reply to anitarudite:

    I'm sure I could probably still report her, but I just don't think I have the heart. I'm the type of person that doesn't even send my food back at a restaurant when they get the order wrong. I need to take a class in assertiveness, I know, LOL!

    Thanks for forwarding the piece. I'm sure several of your friends will be able to relate. Would love to know what they think of it!

  • In reply to anitarudite:

    I understand what you mean about the reporting. Funny, I do the same thing in restaurants as you. :) Therefore, I probably wouldn't report her, either. If you find that assertiveness class, let me know. :) Otherwise, I would say don't worry about having the heart to report her. She obviously didn't have the heart towards you in all her comments and questions. Either that, or she's clueless...probably the latter. In which case, I can see not having the heart in reporting her.

    I hope some of my friends comment here, but I will let you know what they think, if they write me back.

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