If you are adopting or have been adopted, it's extremely likely that you've come in contact with clueless people who don't realize how emotional adoption really is. When someone asks a rude, prying question, you might not know what to say, yet it's important to give a good answer. Like it or not, you or your family is likely to be seen as the default for every adoptive parent or adoptee out there. To start with - decide with your family what information about the adoption is private and what is not, and who it can be shared with. Don't forget to honor your adopted child's wishes on the subject. Recognize that it is perfectly alright to be fine sharing information with close friends, but not with recent acquaintances or strangers. And, in some cases, certain questions cannot or should not be answered at all. What will be the next?
Decide with your family what information about the adoption is private and what is not, and who it can be shared with. Don't forget to honor your adopted child's wishes on the subject. Recognize that it is perfectly alright to be fine sharing information with close friends, but not with recent acquaintances or strangers. And, in some cases, certain questions cannot or should not be answered at all. Things you might consider when setting your comfort levels include:Why an adoptee's parents decided to place a child up for adoption or what caused them to be removed from parental custody.Information on the biological parents.The details about the child's conception.What your child can understand and process healthily.
Be prepared to put up healthy boundaries about the adoption, even with immediate or extended family members. Sometimes people get nosy about things that are not pertinent to a child's current life, and then make assumptions or conclusions which are unfair. It is often easy to overshare, which might pass on information which could be misused or abused by other people.Not all families have this problem. Ideally, your family would be accepting and nurturing to a child no matter what the circumstances of the adoption were, but sometimes this is not the case. Be brave! Luck guys! And be happy!
Give helpful, polite answers if you desire. Most people who ask inappropriate or ignorant questions are genuinely unaware that their questions are out of line. Giving them a gentle education in understanding adoption will go a long way to a better grasp of reality. You might be the only teacher they have, and most people are observant enough to catch your re-wording.Correct their adoption terminology, giving more accurate titles to the various people in the adoption story.For example: make a point to call the person who gave birth to your child their "birth mother" instead of "real mother."It might feel great to give a sarcastic answer such as, "Of course I'm her real parent, do I look imaginary to you?!" However, this is likely to leave the person asking the question without any new information about adoption.
Try ending the conversation. If you do not have the time or the desire to go into detail, you certainly have the right to shut down the conversation. A few good ways to do so include:"Excuse me, I need to get going. I hope you have a good day.""That isn't something I feel comfortable talking about right now."" The birth mother requested that we wait until my child is eighteen to give her that information, and I have to respect this request."Be prepared for people to ask rude questions even in front of your child! Use responses that affirm your love of the child and build them up, then talk to them about it afterward.
Think out some tactics to circumvent other inappropriate questions. There is no one right response.—Work with what feels right with your personality and situation.If asked: "How much did he cost?""Do you mean how much it cost to adopt him? Finances are not really something I'd like to talk to a stranger about.""Some days—my sanity! But really, she is priceless to me!""Why do you want to know? Are you looking to adopt?"Another example: "Why didn't you adopt from our country instead of overseas? There are children without parents in our nation!""Oh, are you thinking of adopting?""This is my daughter, and no matter where she was born she is my child and I love her.""I'm aware there are children locally without homes, and it was a difficult decision, but this seemed the right decision for our family." Be ready!
William, your responses depending on who is asking. For instance, your father-in-law will warrant a different kind of answer than another parent at the park. Make sure that if someone in your family frequently asks troublesome questions that you talk to them privately and tell them how they are not being very thoughtful or considerate about your child's feelings. Also if you adopted someone outside your race: "Why didn't you adopt someone of your own race?" (Although this is more typically couched in terms such as "someone who looks more like you.")"I took one look at her picture and fell in love.""That was not really a factor for me in adopting this child."Give a blank stare. Sometimes being silent lets the other person consider the foolishness of the comment. Not every ignorant comment merits a response, either.
Don't be afraid of correcting someone.—It takes some courage to correct someone instead of ignoring their casual, yet inappropriate comment.Be consistent with the boundaries you set, especially if you have other children who will be listening.Be prepared for people to ask rude questions even in front of your child! Use responses that affirm your love of the child and build them up, then talk to them about it afterward.Don't let them offend you. They're just curious.BUT! Avoid snarky answers. Even if you want to put the person in their place, they deserve the respect that you desire for your own family or child.
You should teach your child to answer some questions too. Something like - "Why didn't my birth parents keep me?""Sometimes when a man and a woman have a baby, they cannot take care of any child at that time. It's never because of anything wrong about the child. It's for grownup reasons. Babies need a lot of care, day and night. They need healthy food, a warm place to sleep, to be cared for when they're sick, and to have grownups hold them when they cry. Your birth parents knew they couldn’t provide all of these things, so they looked for a family that could."
We are free to choose with whom to communicate and what information to discuss. It is so true, that sometimes we meet people which are not as reliable as it seems on the first sight. Of course we should think first and then talk. But it is not less important to remember that we should believe in people, in their fairness and honesty.
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