Do you ever leave an uncomfortable conversation, and then think to yourself just moments later, “Oh, now THAT would’ve been a perfect response to those nosy adoption questions.”
The truth is the response we wish we had in the moment probably wasn’t the best thing to say anyway. The topics of children and adoption often invite unsolicited, and sometimes even offensive, questions and comments. But don’t let the fear of the crazy questions ruin your moment to shine!
Instead of meeting the curiosity of others with frustration, we can choose to meet that curiosity with grace and tact, and sometimes even add helpful tips for how they can get involved with adoption as well. Think of it this way: as adoptive families we are showcasing one of our passions, our children, in a most public way. We get to decide what adoption looks like to those around us. It is a mixed blessing, but one we need to consider when we choose how to answer the crazy questions.
Having lots of experience in fending off “the crazies,” I came up with some responses to nosy adoption questions–here are some of the best, so you can be ready the next time you are caught off guard!
1. Oh, they’re adopted, what happened?
What you’re thinking: No boundaries. This person has no boundaries.
What you could say: It’s a long, wonderful story. God always has the best plans, just glad I was part of this one.
2. Where did she/he come from?
What you’re thinking: Really? Why do we have to give geography lessons on a Tuesday afternoon?
What you could say: “We’re probably neighbors, we live right up the road! If you are interested in the country my child was born in, it is ______. Have you thought about international adoption before? I could definitely give you some ways to get more information.” (Sometimes the question of “where she/he came from” is out of genuine curiosity about a country and international adoption itself more than to pry your personal info out of you.)
3. Which ones are adopted?
What you’re thinking: Does it matter? Do you know my kids are listening and now waiting to see if I will sort them by “mine” and “not mine?” (This is my personal least favorite question ever.)
What you could say: “Well, all of us are adopted actually. God is a father to everyone.” Not comfortable with that answer? Try, “If you can’t tell, than I certainly can’t!” (Cue the big smiles from your kiddos and the sigh of relief!)
4. Who does the baby look like (when they don’t realize you’ve adopted)?
What you’re thinking: Ugh. I don’t have the time to get into the genetic possibilities and connections of my child’s DNA. I just had to run out for milk.
What you could say: It’s a toss-up! Somedays I dress him/ her like me and others like my wife/ husband/partner. This light-hearted answer allows you to move along without the further digging and prying. Of course, if you know the baby looks more like his/her father or mother you can always just say that, too, and keep moving on.
5. Do they see their “real parents?”
What you’re thinking: Every. Single. Morning. Hello?!?!?!
What you could say: Keep it simple. You could ask, “I’m not sure what you mean?” or “why do you ask?” But I think this probably takes the question into a full blown conversation and you may not get away as fast. This question is deeply personal and creates new questions as it unravels (see question number one).
The best response might be as simple as not responding…or responding with “Did you see that the apples are on sale?” Just change the topic altogether. Adults should pick up on the conversation change and let it rest, and the younger kids won’t follow what’s happened. Older kids? It might be best to keep walking and explain later that you don’t have to answer questions just because someone asks them.
None of this is a perfect science. Practice, practice, practice! Think before you speak; the most captive audience you will probably have in that moment when you want to say something crazy back is your children. Always know that your job isn’t to appease the crazy questioners. There are certainly times it is better to walk away. Focus on raising your beautiful children to be thoughtful and considerate of others as they get older and grapple with topics and people that peak their curious questions.
All the best to you fellow adoption-question navigators. You are not in this alone!