My free time is much more limited now than it used to be, but I still subscribe to quite a few magazines. People magazine is not one of them so if I see it lying around somewhere, I will pick it up. (I like the paparazzi pictures.)
I have noticed when celebrities are photographed with one or more of their kids, if one of the kids happens to be adopted the writers will qualify the description. For example: “Sandra Bullock and her adopted child, Louis…” Have you ever noticed that, or is it something that struck me because I have a kid who is adopted?
Why the qualification? Is it to promote adoption? Is Sandra Bullock (staying with her as an example) a rep for adoption? Maybe they note that the child is adopted to alert all other kids who are adopted in case they know Louis…? That happens to me sometimes. Sometimes when people find out that I’m Jewish, they will ask me ifI know a Jewish person in another state. I think they think we all know each other, like we all have sweet matching Jew Jackets.
Anyway, whenever I see an adoption note under a picture of a kid and parent, I always wonder:
When that kid is old enough to understand, how is he going to feel about being described like that?
There is nothing wrong with being curious about families that don’t fit the conventional norm. You might even sneak a peek if you see one such family out and about. But if you want to attempt a few personal questions, you might want to consider avoiding the following:
1. To a mother and her baby: “Does she speak Chinese?” No, she does not speak Chinese. She doesn’t speak anything. She is a freakin’ baby.
2. “How much did you pay for her?” No one has ever asked me that, but if they did, I think I’d laugh and then ask if they’re offering to help with the financials.
3. “She is SO cute! Do you have any of your own?” Um, if she’s not mine, someone is going to be really mad when they realize I took her.
4. To an American parent and a child who was CLEARLY adopted from another country: “Are you going to tell her that she’s adopted?” No, I’m never telling her, I want to see if she figures it out!
5. “Now that you have adopted, you will for sure get pregnant. I know this one girl and she was waiting to adopt from Cambodia or Russia or somewhere and then she got PREGNANT!!” …UGH. Please, STOP…Adoption is not always a second choice. Please don’t assume it is and please don’t assume we need to hear your stories about all the people who got pregnant right after they adopted. For some of us, the need to adopt was much more overwhelming than the need to get pregnant. In fact, many of us have never had any desire to get pregnant, ever. (Or was that just me?)
6. Since I have two daughters, one who is adopted from China and one who is biological, I actually get this question on occasion: “Are they real sisters?” …”They are, and they’re SPECTACULAR!!” (If you ever watched Seinfeld, you will think that is funny.)
7. “Are you babysitting?” Someone once asked me if I was the nanny for my kids. I was so excited that I called my friend, Busy, to tell her. We immediately assumed, of course, that the guy asked me that question because he thought I looked young. After hearing that other adoptive moms have been asked this same question, I regretfully realize that my friend and I may have been wrong. The man who asked was probably confused by me having one kid from China and from “The Bagina.” He wasn’t sure if we were all related. He didn’t think I looked young at all. He just thought I was some old ass babysitter. I hate that guy.
8. “I didn’t realize she was going to look so Chinese!!” Um…OK?
9. “Why didn’t you adopt from the U.S.?” That one is BOLD. Everyone has their own reasons for adopting and for choosing their child’s area of descent. I have a whole backstory that led me to China and I don’t mind discussing it. Others do. Slippery slope on this one. Wear a helmet.
10. “If you hadn’t gotten your daughter, someone else would have.” Someone said that to me at a party once and I have never forgotten it. She wasn’t trying to mean, she was just making a point— and who knows, maybe it’s true— but we were the ones who were “matched” up with our daughter, and we are the ones who got her, and for that, we are very thankful (and she should be too because we are fun and we eat a lot of cake).
I can only speak for myself and my family when I say: “We don’t care if you stare,” because we don’t. Sure, my responses above are sarcastic and flippant, but truthfully, we really don’t mind questions, even dumb ones. We knew that part of the deal when we signed on.
Other families, however, prefer their differences are respected by not calling attention to them. Some families are very private about their story, some may not be in the mood to enlighten or educate, and some might feel that it’s inappropriate to discuss details in front of their child.
But if you’re interested in adoption, please ask. Just be smart about what you ask and you may find the more you learn about how amazing it is, the more you may want to do it!
Thanks for being here!
Facebook : DimSumandDoughnuts
love this. linking on my fb profile.
Beach Mama says
I am often amazed at what people feel is their right to know and what questions they do not hesitate to ask in front of my children (I guess maybe they only hear in Chinese?). I have I few favorite comebacks. To "Is her father Chinese?" I just respond, "I have no idea." And "Did you adopt your children?" I say, "Yes, but I don't remember which ones" (I have bio children too).
Well, I've only met your 'first' child…not your Chinese princess 😉 I'm loving all the great info, and mostly the smile u put on my face this am when I really needed it. Why r idiots so f-ing funny?? Love u girl ox
I'll try this again as I had too many typos. I have had most of those questions with the exception of the Nanny question that has been replaced by "Are you the Grandma?" question 🙂 Honestly most of those don't bother me though and I actually find many asian men very attractive 🙂 but there are two questions that make me want to see blood and that is the "How much did they cost?" and the "Are they real sisters" especially in front of my girls. They know they are adopted from different countries and they know we didn't buy them but they also know that there are fees which are paid to agencies for their services and fees the country they were born in. But they also know that we paid fees when their brother was born. Ours were because we had no insurance and he was born by c-section and we had to pay the doctors. Insurance pays those fees if you have it. All children require fees of some sort. Also irratating is the need by people and the media to point out "adopted" children versus "bio" children. My 25 yr old son never says his sisters were adopted when he is asked if he had siblings he just says he has sisters. Now if someone meets him with them and asks him he will say they were adopted if they ask nicely and not rudely.
I was asked the same stupid ass question by the same stupid ass redneck… when our Chinese daughter came home at 9 months, he asked me if she had an accent.??? Seriously? Now that she's 2 he asked it again. I told him yes, she did in fact have an accent… a southern one!
I was also asked if she would need to go to ESL classes when she starts school. Hello! English is her first and only language!!
You know this Jewish girl from NY! xo Robin
I'm totally linking to my fb page cause I post all the time about the stupid comments people make about my perfectly perfect little girl with a very obvious special need…
@ Suzanne – my daughter, adopted at 11 months, has been tested by the ESL team at her school every year (she's in 2nd grade) because her birth certificate says she was born in China. After the last test, she told me that it was "really inappropriate for them to disrupt my math class for that." Yeah, she needs help speaking English.
Glad to hear I am not the only one dealing with stupid people! The last time I took my daughter to the ladies room I was asked "Where is your husband from?" To which I replied…. Ummmm….Indiana. Then, they asked "Is she yours?" Yes, she is! I am hoping people don't ask as many stupid questions as she gets older…at least now she doesn't really understand.
I think its great that you never ask a question that turns out to be inappropriate or not completely thought out. Good for you for nitpicking someones curiosity about something they may be uncommon with. I applaud your passive aggressiveness by remaining silent with that person rathe that give them a chance to broaden their horizons. kudos to you!
Heather Thompson says
Love this post both from the perspective of an adoptee and adopter!!! I've encountered most of the questions above and some I handled better than others! I will definitely be sharing this post, thanks for taking the time to write it all out:)
This was fantastic! Honestly, you answered some questions that I have wondered myself, and wouldn't have dared ask, ie. the "I thought mostly girls were given up for adoption." It never dawned on me that the family would keep a daughter, and have an "oops"…anyway, I really liked this. It was honest. It was fresh. But most of all, you kept it humorous which is the best way to teach people.
Kevin and Michele says
That was great! I laughed at your candor with the responses! Thanks for posting your thoughts. 'an RQ follower'
LOVE IT!! It came out wonderfully and I too have added the link to my fb page. Thanks!!!!
A few months after we got home with DD #1, we went to a Chinese restaurant. Older man felt compelled to stop by our table on his way out to say, "I bet she likes chow mein." No, I told him. "Actually, she prefers Cheerios."
But my favorite is from a male friend who was out with his daughter when she was about 3. Woman in line at the store asks, "How much did she cost?" Friend looks at her pointedly and says, "What are you, about a C cup?" Woman blushes and stammers. Friend says, "Sorry, I thought we were asking each other intensely personal and inappropriate questions!"
Nice post, from another fellow RQ follower.
To the "how much did she cost" questions there can only be one answer in my mind: "my children are priceless."
Since I don't have kids,I'm referring to the Jew part on another subject. People ask me if I'm Italian or Greek of which I am neither. I'm American but when I tell them Jewish they always go "ah" as if that explained my looks. Not sure I'll ever get that one. Still enjoyed the post though… Jody S.
omg robyn, you are a genius. basically, you are writing what everyone is thinking and you have the gonads for saying. kudos to you, and to your 2 lovely and amazing (and totally 100% without a doubt exactly like their mother and father!) children!
by the way, i like to believe that if a certain Chinese girl i know ever knew someone asked a dumb question about her that sort of turned her into an object instead of a someone, she would have as much to say about it as her mommy 🙂
LOVE this post! You are incredibly witty. Unfortunately, the other people of whom you speak? Nitwitty. Dimwitty, even. See how I connected the joke back to the name of you blog. I am all kinds of clever 😉
Number 4 says
Next time someoe askes me if my L is adopted, I am going to look at them and ask, "Did you have a vaginal birth?" Or I could tell them I am VERY easy and slept around a lot. See what kind of response I get.
AwesomeCloud and family says
This was hilarious. Thanks.
Ooh! My new answer to dumb questions of every sort: "I am sooo blogging this when I get home."
I have got to remember these two comments, they absolutely cracked me up:
"But my favorite is from a male friend who was out with his daughter when she was about 3. Woman in line at the store asks, "How much did she cost?" Friend looks at her pointedly and says, "What are you, about a C cup?" Woman blushes and stammers. Friend says, "Sorry, I thought we were asking each other intensely personal and inappropriate questions!" "
""Ooh! My new answer to dumb questions of every sort: "I am sooo blogging this when I get home." "
I'm in the process of adopting from Japan. But years back I had my godson with me alot.
He's of East Indian Background, Im white and Japanese.
WE always got the same coments oohh look hes adopted.
I had one person ask him what he was.
S said "Canadian" and this rude person then expalined to him how could he be canadian as he was brown and not white like his Mama, this was not the first time this had happened, and from the mouths of babes S screames " ahhh I'm not whhhhiiittteeee and starts screaming" the man was scared off and S startted giggling this evil giggle and Said" Papa George said that would be funney"
Trust my Dad to teach him that LOL
Its sad to see that there are still somany ignorant people out there.
BTW Love Your Top 10 List, Can I put a link on my blog to it and quote a couple?
love these quotes…so funny and true! i'm not a hypersensitive person either, but find comments so intriguing. i know people are just interested in how we became a family. i'm a single mom to one daughter from China and have been asked recently…are you babysitting?…i thought like you, it must be b/c i look soo young! i laughed and said, no she's mine. and added…her dad is chinese! ha! i just let them figure it out.
Loving Chaos says
Wonderfully written … I'm Mom to three wonderful boys — one adopted, two from the "bagina" (loved that one) — and I love to advocate for adoption when people want/need the education. But the specifics of my family's awesome story is only my business to share (and my sons' story to share when they want to), not for strangers to ask for!
Tracy Hahn-Burkett says
Great post. I'm glad to discover your blog!
I'm always particularly amazed by people who are shocked by the fact that my young, Korean daughter knows she's adopted. Come on, she's a different race from the rest of the family. Even if we didn't work that into conversation, I think she might eventually figure it out.
A parent who is presently going through the adoption process for the first time wrote a guest post on my blog last week after she received her introduction to adoption comments and was rather astonished by what she heard. I wrote a similar piece for Babble a year or so ago and, frankly, wasn't surprised by the controversy it sparked. Some people couldn't understand what I was upset about. (I was admittedly snarky, but then, I wasn't giving actual, spoken responses in the article.) The same people also couldn't understand why their questions or comments were intrusive, personal and/or offensive in any way, even when spoken in front of our kids.
As a few people said here, some people are genuinely interested in learning more about adoption. Like others, I'm happy to offer information in those instances (as long as I'm not in the middle of a family dinner or not trying to quell a grocery store temper-tantrum, etc.). But people shouldn't assume that all families are open books just because they may look "different" from other families.
Here's the Babble piece: http://www.babble.com/baby/baby-care/parenting-advice-adoption-adoptive-parents/
I just re-read every one of these comments. You guys make me smile. Thank you.
One time I met with a group and one of the women and I were getting to know each other. I shared with her about adopting our daughters from China. As we were leaving, she yelled across the parking lot that she was writing a book and would love to interview me about infertility! Yikes, we did not have fertility issues, my hubby had a vasectomy years and years ago. Did I yell that back? No, I got in my car and left shaking my head. People never cease to amaze!
On the flip side of this, I have a friend that is white and her husband is Chinese– They have four biological children. She has actually had someone come up to her in a supermarket and say, "oh, your kids are so cute– where did you get them?" The ignorant statements of some people are amazing.
This is great! For our story, add on the fact that our last name is Hispanic sounding. My hubby is Italian, I am Dutch and we adopted 2 beautiful kids from China. When we called the Early Intervention people from the county, we got a call from a woman with a thick hispanic accent. I thought, "UH…Oh let's see how this plays out" She came handed me a booklet on ESL, then she took one look at my Chinese Children and said she would call back next week. Never head back.
Or the fact that our Federal Govt sent my son's new ciizen packet in spanish. Super.
This post made my day! Now that it's been three years since we adopted our daughter, I can laugh at any comments and enjoy sharing our experience when I can. However, in the throes of post adoption blues, it was admittedly difficult.
I've personally had #1,2, 5, 8 & 9. I enjoyed answering #2 with the following…"Well, she didn't cause me a ripped vagina or a C section scar. Just like giving birth, I think it's a personal experience I won't talk about with a stranger." Good times.
I've also gotten "I think you will love her as much as I love my own." (the woman then took her hands up to her privates and made a motion like she was giving birth.)
On a fun note, I did get this as well, "You couldn't have 'made'one so beautiful." This was from my brother, so I got the joke in it.