Questions You Should NOT Ask Adoptive Parents

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After nearly two and a half year process, my husband and I brought our daughter home in August 2014. We feel so much love and support from our family and friends and are very excited about our new lives with our daughter. She is a happy and healthy baby and we couldn’t be more thrilled! What I didn’t think about was all of the questions people, including complete strangers, would ask!

When we suddenly had a baby with us at the grocery store, the cashiers that had never acknowledged our saying “Hello or “Thank You” for the 6 years we have gone to the store now smile and ask me about our daughter. We have even had people scold us for not bringing our “beautiful daughter” into the store.

The sudden appearance of a baby will naturally lead to questions people might have, and being a same sex couple with a baby adds a new dimension to the questions that people feel totally comfortable asking! I don’t mind trying to educate people about adoption, but sometimes it is exhausting when you just want to pick up milk for the coffee that you desperately need to keep going!

I’m sure that many people have questions about adoption, so let me give you a few questions that I suggest you DON’T ask people, especially a stranger, about their adoptive child!

1. Where did you get your baby? What country did they come from?
In our case our baby is East Indian and doesn’t look like us at all (I am a white guy and my husband is Korean). Our daughter was born in Queens, so we always laugh and say “Queens” because we know everyone assumes we had an international adoption.

2. Why didn’t their parents want the baby? How could they give up such a beautiful baby?
Um, this is such a complicated questions and the answer varies with each situation. Unless you really know the family you should let them offer this information to you instead of asking. For the most part I can guarantee it isn’t as simple as “the mother didn’t want the child”.

And would it be easier if the baby was ugly?

3. Are you worried about the birth parents changing their mind and taking the baby back?
OF COURSE YOU ARE during that initial period! In New York state the birth parents have 30 days after the placement to change their mind about the placement. After that 30 day period it is challenging for the birth parent(s) to have the placement reversed. Hopefully this won’t even be an issue as you hope the birth parents have received counseling to help them work through their decision so it is not reversed.
Also, if someone tells you that they have an open adoption, please don’t tell them that they need to be concerned that the mother may try to steal the baby back. There are plans in place with open adoption about the amount of visitation and legalities around an initial placement and adoption.

4. Are you their real parents?
Versus what – her fake parents? We are her parents. The child might have birth parents in their life, but they will not be in the child’s daily life. We feel very lucky to have a wonderful relationship with our daughter’s birth mother and we all know the parameters of that relationship. She loves her birth daughter and our daughter will grow up knowing her birth mother, but she will know that we are her parents, provide for her and make the decisions about her care.

5. Who is the “mother” in your relationship?
I guess this is something that gay couples might expect to be asked, but our daughter has two fathers, or in our case a Papa and a Daddy. You might find it cute to jokingly ask this question, but it brings up a bigger conversation about gay adoption and gender roles that I probably won’t go into with a stranger.

6. I haven’t been asked this personally, but I’ve read that people ask “How much did they cost?”.
I wouldn’t feel obligated to answer this question to a stranger. If a friend was seriously interested in the process I would give them an estimate and refer them to our agency.

A few pointers to adoptive parents about how to answer these questions:
1. Always feel empowered to answer only the questions that you feel comfortable answering. You do not owe a stranger an explanation into a very complicated situation.
2. Answer in a way that makes YOU feel comfortable. My husband and I usually respond with humor – back to the “Where did you get her?” – “Queens” and leave it at that.
3. Remember that when your child is old enough to not say anything you do not want them to hear. They soak up everything you say like a sponge and remember what you say about their birth parents. Your most important job is keeping them safe and feeling loved!

I hope this helps people that might have questions about adoption or adoptive parents that are bombarded with questions they do not know how to answer. You can always ask questions about adoption on the Forum at http://www.daddysos.com/discuss/forum/main/adoption/ or email me if you want to continue the discussion!

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About Author

Father of an adopted daughter living in NY State and writing about my experiences of being a father.

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