Thank you for asking

Image from jqueenan's Etsy shop
We haven't even been parents two months, but we've already fielded "those" kind of questions. The questions that inevitably arise when people learn of our adoption.

So far, they've been relatively harmless and easy to answer. Because Little Man isn't home yet, most of the questions have come from family/friends, and were pretty thoughtful.  Mostly on the vein of why did you choose international adoption, and about his birth parents.

We can answer the first easily. The second is a bit more difficult for me.

We once asked another adoptive family the same thing, what do you know about his birth parents? It's a natural thing to wonder about. In our case, we were shut down with a terse "that's private, and we don't share that with anyone." It left us feeling awful, like we had been incredibly rude. And it also made us wonder just what the family was so afraid of.

Now that we are on the other side and having to answer those questions ourselves, we definitely don't want to make people feel as badly as we felt when we asked. And we don't want Little Man to feel that we are embarrassed or uncomfortable about him or his past.

There are different levels of interest by people, and different responses based on those questions. Some will be more like inquisitions, and usually from the school of folks who "couldn't raise a child that wasn't theirs." (Yes, we've actually heard that.) Others, like we were, just trying to learn more about something they may know little about.

I found these cards on Etsy last night, called "Thank you for asking." Fell in love with the name because that's how The Man and I always seem to respond to the "what happened to his parents" question! The cards are designed to be handed out in sets of two. One answers the "is he yours" question, and the second answers the "parents/history" question. I absolutely LOVE the response to the second question:

"A Child's Story" (excerpt from the back side)
Every child’s story is unique, whether or not there are adopted. Adopted children are not bought. The cost of their care in his/her native country, and why their first family was unable to care for him/her, is private. For an adopted child, this is their story to tell when they are adults, with the closest people in their lives. But, what I can tell you is that we are not special people because we have chosen to adopt this child. Rather, we are blessed to have been given this opportunity to parent this child. 

She puts this so simply and straightforward! The cards are decorated with lovely artwork too. They are available from Etsy HERE.

Right now, we find that the W.I.S.E. method works for us. W stands for "walk away". I is for saying "it's private". S stands for "share" some information about adoption or about one's own story. E stands for educate others about adoption with correct facts. But it's nice to know there are some other things we can tuck into our repertoire that might be helpful too.

For you APs, how do you handle these questions?


  1. Thanks for posting this! Obviously I haven't encountered some of these questions yet, but I think responding with a politely worded question of your own might work in many cases: "Oh, why do you ask?" This could work for questions about birth parents, costs, whether he's "yours," etc.

  2. Amy's response is a good one... "why do you ask?" It often weeds out people who are just being nosy. If people ask about our girls' birth parents, we just respond with "that's her information to share if/when she feels ready." Or, we just plead ignorance and say, "we really don't know much." Most people, aside from doctors and therapists, don't really need to know that info anyway.
    The one I hate now is when people ask if our girls are sisters. Um... yes, they are. We had one dummy ask if they were twins. And they do not look ANYTHING alike! Except that they're both Asian by race. So, we've learned to respond with "they are now." Works for now, but as the girls grow, we fear they'll feel their relationship is undermined by that question.

  3. I don't have the answers but this is a great post. I want you to know that I haven't been responding a lot to posts but I keep reading. :) Thinking of you.
    Oh - and Elizabeth - both of your girls are ADORABLE but they do NOT look alike. Twins?!? Sorry, that struck me as so strange.

    I think people often don't think before they speak and that's the real issue. They're not trying to be rude, they're just not thinking. We all have those moments and stick our feet in our mouths so the few questions we do get at this point, I try to give the person the benefit of the doubt. I'm sure it'll be harder once our child is home and old enough to really grasp the questions being asked.

  4. Hi, cool post. I have been thinking about this topic,so thanks for sharing. I will probably be subscribing to your blog. Keep up great writing!!!

  5. Here are some of my favorite short and sweet answser from Parenting Magazine. I love the answer for "Did your child cost much?" What a horrible question!

    "Answers to Obnoxious Adoption Questions"
    By Arricca Sansone

    Along with the joy of adopting a child comes a stream of sometimes prying or hurtful questions. Be prepared with these brief and effective answers:

    Is that your real child?
    Yes. I'm a real parent raising a real child.

    Are your kids from another country?
    We're a family, so we live together.

    Your kids look so different. Which one is yours?
    They're siblings, and they're both my kids.

    What a shame you can't have kids of your own.
    I'm so grateful that life made this child mine.

    How much did he cost?
    It's always expensive to be a parent, isn't it?

    He's so lucky to have been adopted.
    We're the fortunate ones to be his parents.


  6. because people can't immediately tell that cb is adopted, the obnoxious questions we often get are about birth parents. and i've taken to blaming the agency, saying something like, "our agency requests that we keep that information private as it our son's to share when he so chooses." and that usually works and it's true, too! ;)

  7. Comments only bug me when I am with all the kids. The lingo in the house does not include " Lily's real Mom" or "real Dad" so when we are out and they hear it from strangers, it's a challenge. I may one day just respond with a polite" I had an affair with a Korean man and my husband was cool with it! LOL.

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