Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Further Questions

Thank you for your comments to my post from earlier today...I worried after I published it that I was being a little too harsh (and maybe I was!).  From some of the responses people left, however, I gather I'm not far off the mark in the kinds of comments that people hear.

Karen, you reminded me of a few other questions that we've been asked regularly, so let's add a few more to the list:

11.  Is Matthew your natural child or Is Matthew your own child?
Suggested answer #1:  Yes.
Suggested answer #2 (designed to educate about terminology):  Matthew is our biological child, yes.
Suggested answer #3:  Why, does he look unnatural?

12.  I'm so glad you had your own first before adopting. (a surprisingly frequent comment)
Suggestion response #1:  Well, I'm glad our situation could make you happy.
Suggested response #2:  Why is that? (people get really stuck on how to answer this one)
Suggested response #3:  Ahhhh...

13.  Did you have fertility problems?
Suggested answer #1: Yes.  Did you have any further questions about that?
Suggested answer #2:  Yes.  And while we're talking about highly personal things, how's your sex life these days?
Suggested answer #3: Why do you ask?

Any more I should anticipate?  Help me out here, with other questions or with alternate answers.


  1. I agree with you, I experience these weird questions... I often shake my head.

  2. I think any time someone does something that is not the "norm" so to speak, we leave ourselves open to comments...I really love your responses! Will I actually have the "balls" to use them! In my head, I do...but in reality, I tend to chicken out! Since our referral, I have had much more personal questions about our daughter's life and background, and I find myself fumbling through it...the strangers, I don't care so much, but I find it really awkward with friends, who just assume that we will share everything. The one's we get the most are the, "why are you not adopting from here" question, and the, "are you crazy, you already have 3 kids and you want more?!" Which I hate almost the most. I am sorry you had that response from your neighbor...I sometimes find that i can get so absorbed in all the idiots (which are few, really) and forget how very many people are actually supporting us and care for our daughter and our family.
    Oh yeah, our kids are in the same orphanage Ruth, and given their ages, I bet they play together! Do you want to email me and see if they are from the same area?


  3. Why is that? or Why do you ask? or Why do you think so? are top-notch deflectors. They're still polite, and they separate out the nosy and/or clueless from someone who has a sincere interest in adoption and is just fumbling with how to ask. The only disadvantage is that they prolong the conversation, so don't use them if it's a situation where you just want to get out of Dodge.

    One time (post-referral, pre-travel) I had a string of questions from a woman I had just met about whether my soon-to-be-son "felt" like my own child... was he MINE, in my heart... several times in a row she asked, and I was getting completely disconcerted. After I said for the third time that of course it would be a big transition for both of us but yes, he felt like mine as soon as I got the referral (thinking to myself, what more does she want me to say?) I saw her eyes fill with tears. She then told me that she was adopted, and that although her mother always told her that she was HERS as soon as she saw her face, she never really believed it. Gulp.

    And then I resolved to never give a flip answer, unless it was a totally off the charts rude question (like how much did you pay for that baby?? - which I never heard but a friend did. Her response was to blurt out, "Wow, I think that's the rudest thing anyone has ever said to me.")

    I have had very few obnoxious questions - partly because as a single person it's seen as more "acceptable" to adopt, I think, than to get pregnant. So in my case, I took the "right" road in the eyes of the world, screwed up as that is.

    and thus ends the world's longest comment. ;)

  4. #2, #2, and #2 answers win for me! :) these are great. sad that we have to prethink our responses to terrible questions, but....
    better to be prepared i guess.

  5. #3,#2,#2.

    We are often quizzed on our fertility situation as well and it offends me in so many ways.Honestly I feel like women (I have only had this issue with women) feel better than me since they had biological children. While asking me about adoption rather than saying "Congratulations!" they go on about how lucky they are to have their own and can't imagine not being able to have children, all while giving me the look of pity. Or better yet the joys of pregnancy and how sad it is I'll never experience it, or the woes of pregnancy and how lucky I am to escape the discomfort. I'm not sure why my adoption places me in such a lower status. Not being able to have biological children doesn't make me less intelligent, or capable of being a mother. Sorry, I'm having a crabby day and I get so mad when I think of the comments we've received.

    On the flip side for every comment we get our child will get twice as many. I grew up always asked "why didn't your real parents want you?", and "You're so lucky you are adopted, your parents must be good people". Actually my childhood was pretty crappy even with the 'good fortune' to be adopted. I often felt people view adoptees like a thrown away rag doll. I've also heard the comments about the adoptees who are screwed up. Nothing infuriates me more. I find it a form of discrimination there isn't a word for. Adoptee stereotyping and it honestly makes my blood boil. It's so important to stand up for our kids and our family I just know you're going to be amazing at this!

  6. I agree that it is always best to assess why the person is asking the questions before you give a rude or flip answer. More often than not, the people who ask me are either adopted themselves (and have asked me if I really love my adopted children as much as my biological children) or are interested in adoption or battling infertility or have adopted. It is rare that it is just someone being rude when I get down to the heart of their reason for asking. I always gently correct their terms when I provide my answer...as an example, when people aske if I have any "real" children, I reply that I have five adopted children and two biological children. I could add to that "they are all real, none are plastic" but I don't!

  7. Oh, your neighbour sounds like a GIANT PILL! I agree that you handled it beautifully - made her think, but weren't rude. My approach to this is to get the crazies out of my system with people who understand (eg, right here on your blog, for example, LOL) and then try, try, TRY to be gracious to people in real life. Partly because it's a good way to teach graciousness to your kids, partly because I don't know exactly what their circumstances are, partly because I want to show that I'm not defensive about our adoption (even though I totally AM, sometimes!) and partly because of all the stuff in James about using my tongue properly :) I also often find myself thinking about the Proverb: a soft answer turns away wrath. And it doesn't apply perfectly, because the people asking usually aren't angry, but I think that a soft answer usually is the best way to turn away stupidity too, to make people think, and the best way to make them more likely to be gentle to my children. If I am the rude parent, they are much less likely to be nice to my kids.

    WHEW! Sorry for comment marathon. By the way, my favourite of your suggestions is totally number 4. LOVE it! :) (And that is one that I definitely think you should use for real!)