If you wouldn't say it about a boob job,
don't say it about an adoptive family.
don't say it about an adoptive family.
Yup. Believe it or not, I get all of those questions, phrased just like that, ALL the time. And no, they are not asking about my boobs. Now, don't feel horrible if you've let one of these slip. I'm sure I said a few before we went through the adoption process, too. Adoption lingo is new territory for a lot of people, and sometimes that little filter between our head and mouth gets all clogged up at just the right time to make for some awkward moments like in the video.
So, I'm here to help navigate these crazy new waters with you. Here's a list of common questions and comments that we hear. I'll do my best to explain how to rephrase it or explain why it's completely inappropriate so you can become a fluent in Adoptionese. Here goes...
- "Is she your real kid?"
This is one happens ALL. THE. TIME. As funny as it is in the video, this is one that can hurt in real life, especially if the kids can hear, which is usually the case. Let me explain once and for all: there are no fake kids. None. Every child is a real child. The appropriate terminology here is biological.
- "Where'd ya get her from?" or "Where'd ya get that baby?"Like he said in the video, "she's not a fashion accessory" I just happened to pick up on a whim or on a clearance rack. Simply ask, "Where was she born?" or "Where did you adopt from?"
- "Could you not have your own kids?" or "Could you not have real kids?"
So a reminder, the terminology you're looking for is biological. However, unless you know someone very well, this is not at all appropriate and for most people is a private issue. So if you are checking out at the grocery store and see a multiracial family that you have never met, leave this question off the list. Personally, I don't mind this question because I'm a pretty open book, and I absolutely love a reason to start talking about adoption. But to be sensitive to people you come across or even friends you know, try asking in a delicate manner which gives the person the opportunity to open up or to bow out gracefully: "I think adoption is great. What made you decide to adopt?"
- "How much did she cost?" or "Was she expensive?"
This is NEVER appropriate to ask in front of a child or to a complete stranger. And you do not pay for a child- that is trafficking. There are a ton of expenses involved in an adoption, yes. Those expenses are for numerous things like agency fees, documents, home studies, social workers, couriers, orphanage fees, travel documentation, lawyers, airfares, hotels, court fees, etc. But if this is something you are truly interested in, a simple google search should help you figure it out without embarrassing or humiliating someone, including yourself. If you want to ask a friend you know, simply ask about the costs involved in an adoption, NOT the cost of a child.
- "What happened to her real/birth mom?" or "What happened to her real family?"
Adoption, while it is a wonderful thing, is born out of brokenness, grief and loss. This is a very private issue and one you don't need to ask. EVER. Just for some perspective, click here to see the pain and heartbreak on these parents' faces as they abandon their children at a baby hatch in China.
- "They really don't want girls in China, huh?"
Um, don't go there.
- "She looks like a China doll."
- "So you want to be like Brad and Angelina?" or "You're going to be like Brad & Angelina."
Please. Make. It. Stop.
- "Are you babysitting today?" or "Are all those kids yours?" or "So you're collecting a basketball/baseball/football team."
Believe it or not, I get this one a lot! I find it kind of funny, and I expect it now because I have to be honest, with two kids that look a lot like me and one that doesn't, well you can see it coming. It's an honest question and a way for people to try and figure out your situation. It does get old, but it's not offensive or inappropriate.
- "Does she know she was adopted? Are you going to tell her she's adopted?"
This one is sometimes whispered to me so no one else will hear. I wish people would whisper some of the other ones! Adoption is not a bad word or a bad thing at all! We openly talk about adoption at home. At 2 years old, Zoe knows she was born in China and can find it on the map. Adoption is a beautiful thing, another way for God to knit a family together, making it whole. And honestly, if we didn't tell Zoe, well, see number 9 and the picture below.
- "Weren't there any American kids you could adopt?" or
"Why don't you adopt from the US?"
Be ready if you ask me this because I will ask you the exact same question. I read a statistic today that said if 1 family in every 3 churches in the US adopted a child, we would adopt every child in need of a family in the US. Yet, tens of thousands age out of the system every year without a family. There are millions, MILLIONS of children across the planet that need homes. God put China on our hearts so that's where we pursued Zoe. Right now we are waiting on our fourth child in Ethiopia because God broke my heart for their orphan crisis.
- "You know, now that you have adopted, you'll get pregnant." or "You adopted and got pregnant, yup, happens every time."
Stay far, far away from the first one. People who have struggled or are struggling with infertility have probably been down a tough, painful road that has left scars. Telling them they will get pregnant is like driving a knife right into their heart. Adoption isn't a fertility cure. And adoption isn't always a "Plan B." Some of us chose it as "Plan A" and were overjoyed to also have biological kids.
- The Horror Stories.
As soon as I tell someone Zoe is adopted, it's not unusual for that person to unload on me the worst adoption story they've ever heard from their brother's friend's cousin's wife's sister who read an article about it on the internet. Maybe it's the only other time they've heard the word adoption? Whatever the reason people feel the urge to vomit up these stories, it is NOT okay. We love our adopted children and don't want you to rain on our family's parade. And believe me, anyone who has adopted has researched everything on the topic and has been all but strip searched for their background checks. Nothing you can conjure up will surprise us or suddenly make us second guess this thing we have ALREADY done.
- "I have always wanted to adopt, BUT..."
I welcome this conversation if you're serious and might be open to talking about possibilities. But if this was just a one time fleeting thought you had and you're simply trying to find common ground with me, please don't. It will make you look foolish.
- "She's so lucky" or "You're amazing for doing that."
There's no way to sugarcoat it: Do. Not. Say. This. I know you have every kind intention but it does not go over like you think it will. She's not a charity case. She's my kid. If you want to say something sweet, try, "She is awesome. You're so lucky/blessed to have her in your family." That will bless us beyond measure.