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!