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Need new strategies on how to shut down the adoption conversation with other adults

post #1 of 46
Thread Starter 

This isn't about whether other people have a "right" to know or about whether or not they're being rude in asking questions about my son's adoption or his birth parents. This isn't about me not wanting to educate others and help get kids adopted. This is simply about me not wanting to have this conversation every single day (sometimes multiple times per day) for the rest of my son's childhood. It's completely selfish* and I don't care what anyone thinks about that, but I need to shut these conversations down.

 

So far, my strategies are:

 

- change the topic

- take long pauses and look away to indicate that I'm not comfortable talking about this right now

- ask, "maybe we can talk about this some other time, in private?"

- answer quickly then change the topic

 

Any other ideas? I'm finding that these aren't working very well.

 

*OK, it's not completely selfish. I also think that my son doesn't need to hear these questions all the time either. He's going to know he's adopted, that we love him, that his birthmother and other family members love him, that he can learn more about the details later. He doesn't need to get the impression that adoption is weird or stigmatized from all these ignorant people who ask questions all the time.

 

post #2 of 46

My method is this:

 

Pause after an insensitive question/statement is made by the other person.

 

Ask "Why do you want to know?"...kindly, but directly.

 

If they come up with a reason (and most people either don't, or they stumble through trying to find a reason), pause again and say "well...that's personal."

 

If they STILL push, say something like "There's nothing to hide, but I'd rather keep my son's personal information private.  I'm sure you understand."  Smile.  Conversation over.

post #3 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by RedOakMomma View Post

My method is this:

 

Pause after an insensitive question/statement is made by the other person.

 

Ask "Why do you want to know?"...kindly, but directly.

 

If they come up with a reason (and most people either don't, or they stumble through trying to find a reason), pause again and say "well...that's personal."

 

If they STILL push, say something like "There's nothing to hide, but I'd rather keep my son's personal information private.  I'm sure you understand."  Smile.  Conversation over.


yeahthat.gif  Although I've had people respond with "Oh--I'm just curious..." as if it's like asking about the quality of your school district.  I "get" that they don't mean to be or realize how insanely insensitive they're being, but really... it just gets old.

 

I did, once, have the audicity to respond to "Oh--I'm just curious" with some very rude and insensitive questions during a particularly bitter period (when I also really put people on the spot for digging in less overt ways, too).  I responded to a woman that did this to me with questions like "How old were you when you lost your virginity?" and "Have you ever had a miscarriage?" (although the first one hit home better because not all women have had m/cs).  They kind of got the point that it wasn't really the time nor place (nor person) to be discussing that kind of a topic.

 

Now, I'm not quite as b1tchy about it, but maybe because I'm also not asked quite as often.  I do still respond to it with a crumpled brow and pause before asking why they're asking so that my shock is clear.

 

Oh--and to be fair, the people who want to understand the adoption process are not usually the ones asking the stupid, insensitive questions IME.  And they usually start out with "Hmmm... we've been looking into how to adopt" and then go on to share their experience before interrogating me about it (and really, I have no problem with those people interrogating me as long as my daughter is not sitting there listening--which hasn't happened yet with someone genuinely interested in adoption)

 

post #4 of 46

 

Is your son still a baby? I'm going by your avatar picture. 

 

If he's still a baby, then you are obviously around a lot of people who observed you being all unpregnant and then the next day, BOOM, baby, and/or they heard you and your extended family talking about the adoption journey and all its exciting potential, and now they're not realizing that they should switch gears because the potential has become the actual and it's your child they're hashing over, not just your hopes and dreams and plans and concerns.

 

If that's your situation, then I think you're going to find your balance with time. You'll join a mom's group, and while you'll eventually tell them all about the adoption (mom's groups = free group therapy), you probably won't say much about it first thing, so they'll get to know you in terms of what your life is like, not what your son's birthmother's life was possibly like. Then he'll go to preschool, and then school, and the topic may NEVER come up at either of those places - I'm in and out of my kids' schools all the time, the other parents see me with foster kids in tow and know (because I tell everybody and so do my kids) that we hope to adopt, and I still have no idea if any of the other children in my kids' classes are adopted. It just doesn't come up, at least not where kids might hear themselves being discussed - which is basically everywhere. For sure, the teachers don't talk about other people's kids and their personal histories.

 

If it's a transracial adoption, obviously there is always going to be more casual notice-taking, but even so... I can think of three kids offhand at our elementary school who I have seen walking out with a different-race parent, and in all three cases I have just assumed that the other parent was of a different race. In each case it's been a Black child with a white mom. If your avatar is a picture of your son's hand in yours, then I guess my best advice is to find a diverse school to send him to, where even if he is the only adopted kid, he won't be the only Black kid with a white mom, and the other parents won't be fascinated by him for the wrong reasons. (I'm sure he's fascinating, but it's not because he's Black orngtongue.gif). 

post #5 of 46
Thread Starter 

We're a transracial family. He's a toddler. He goes to preschool. The issue doesn't come up at school, probably because all the teachers already know our situation. I'm very open about all of it, but lately I've just gotten more tired of discussing it. Partly it's because my son is old enough to truly understand what I'm saying and it's partly just I'm sick of having to talk about it when I'm not expecting to do so.

 

It comes up at local kids events, the grocery store, etc. Transracial families are not rare where I live, but most of the families are biological. People ask for all kinds of reasons. Some good and some bad. Sometimes they respond to my answers by saying, "Her dad is African American, too, so I was just curious how your family was made" or "We've been thinking about adoption." But sometimes they go into their own personal opinions on the ethics of adoption.

 

- "Why do you want to know?"

I had forgotten about that. It's great! It helps shift the conversation and makes me feel more in control of the direction the discussion will take. Thank you!

 

- "There's nothing to hide, but I'd rather keep my son's personal information private. I'm sure you understand."

That's a good one too!

 

Thanks

post #6 of 46

But sometimes they go into their own personal opinions on the ethics of adoption.

 

 

 

 

 

With your toddler-aged kid standing right there? That just amazes me. (And if you ever read my posts, you know I'm not shy about discussing my perspectives on the ethics of adoption.) I thought he must still be a babe-in-arms. Geez.

post #7 of 46

Being in a multi-racial family with an 8 year old and then 1 and 2 year olds. I get a lot of questions. I like the responses and pauses and such. I am going to ask some of the nosier sounding ones why do you ask.

Now if someone seems generally interested and not just nosy I am usually really nice.

DS now knows he is my biological child and has told people that and I realized I really need to curtail some of the questions.

My least favorite is "Are they real sisters?" They are 15 months apart and inseparable, does it really matter if they don't have a bio connection. I can imagine someone trying to tell my feisty 2 year old in a few years her sister is not her real sister and I am sure the person would get a real reaction. One of my friends fired back and asked a woman if her kids both had the same dad and the lady just stuttered and walked away. I don't ever come up with good comebacks on the spot though.

post #8 of 46

I'm really bad about NOT talking about adoption with complete strangers. When my first adopted son was a baby, i was like a walking advertisement for foster care adoption. Usually people didnt ask if he was adopted (maybe because his skin is lighter they thought he could be a bio?) but it would come up and i loved talking about my experience. It went so smoothly and my son was so wonderful and "perfect" i just wanted to sing the praises of adoption. By the time my daughter moved in, she was extremely uncomfortable BEING adopted let alone talking about it in public. (Now she doesnt really care.) She was 8 when she moved in.

 

I guess it comes up for me more often than usual because my boys are the same age but not twins, and they are pretty clearly not related biologically. So usually it goes like this "How old are they?" Four. "Oh? both of them?" yes. "Are they twins?" At that point, i could say yes they are twins. But thats never felt right to me, to refer to them as twins when they are not. so i might say "They are two weeks apart in age." Then the questions follow...people get confused....sometimes i just let them hang there wondering what our story is. Usually i say "they're adopted." Sometimes they ask more questions, sometimes not. The issue i struggle with is i LIKE to talk about adoption, and its hard to stop myself from putting info out there that i probably shouldnt put out there.

 

I was surprised once when my daughter's special ed teacher asked which one of the boys was dd's "real brother", and i looked at her and said "um both of them?...but ds2 is her bio brother." She is an adoptive mom, and i knew she didnt have ill intent, and i knew what she meant to ask. But i thought as an adoptive mom herself she wouldnt use the word "real."

 

I think the worst comment i've ever received was when the walmart cashier asked if ds2 was a crack baby. "because my friend fosters and she gets crack babies all the time..." At least he was still an infant and didnt understand!

post #9 of 46

I am white and my son's birth parents were from Mexico. The question I get most often is, "Are you his real mom?" What I do is give them a puzzled look, poke at my arm as if to see if it's solid, and then look at them again. "Yes, I'm real," I say. That pretty much shuts them up. I think that would translate well to when someone asks if your son or daughter is your real child, or the real sibling of your birth child. Just touch them, and give the person a look like you think they're nuts, and say, "Yes, they're real."

post #10 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by othermother109 View Post

I am white and my son's birth parents were from Mexico. The question I get most often is, "Are you his real mom?" What I do is give them a puzzled look, poke at my arm as if to see if it's solid, and then look at them again. "Yes, I'm real," I say. That pretty much shuts them up. I think that would translate well to when someone asks if your son or daughter is your real child, or the real sibling of your birth child. Just touch them, and give the person a look like you think they're nuts, and say, "Yes, they're real."


 

Same here---we're white and dd is screamingly obviously Latina.  I get "Where did you get her?"  eyesroll.gif

post #11 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by heatherdeg View Post


 

Same here---we're white and dd is screamingly obviously Latina.  I get "Where did you get her?"  eyesroll.gif



And somehow your city isnt as exotic as, say, Guatamala or whatever they are expecting. After i "got" keegan, someone asked me where he came from, and of course was surprised it was "Detroit" instead of, say, Ethiopia. :P

post #12 of 46

Queenjane, I too like to talk about foster-adoption. But I know I have to start being sensitive to my kids now that they are old enough to understand some. 

So far we haven't got any negative dialogue, I am sure I will blow up if it happens.

I do get, "where are they from?" a lot...they are expecting the answer to be somewhere in Africa. "They are from Riverside county (our county)". I am still amazed at how many people understand private domestic infant adoption and international adoption but have no clue about foster-adoption. 

post #13 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by queenjane View Post



And somehow your city isnt as exotic as, say, Guatamala or whatever they are expecting. After i "got" keegan, someone asked me where he came from, and of course was surprised it was "Detroit" instead of, say, Ethiopia. :P


Right... and when I say "Newark" people are like "But where were here parents from?" (ummm... I'm going to overlook the obvious here irked.gif ).  Instead of pointing out that *I* am her parent, I say "I don't know--given that she was born in Newark, I'm going to guess they were either from Newark or somewhere nearby.  Generally, people don't travel TOO far to give birth, ya know?" and then I move on with something else and ideally, with someone else.

 

I know what they mean.  I know they're not being intentionally insensitive.  But that doesn't make it less annoying.  Maybe it should, but it doesn't.  I'm not a saint.

 

post #14 of 46

 

I got this from a neighbor once... I said "Babys-R-Us". 
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by heatherdeg View Post


 

Same here---we're white and dd is screamingly obviously Latina.  I get "Where did you get her?"  eyesroll.gif



If you don't want to answer questions just shut them down.  "I'm sorry, that's not my story to tell - I don't answer questions about other people's lives" and leave it at that.  I also use "why do you want to know" because I've had people tell me "oh, I'm in the process of adopting" (or it's a family member or close friend) and even then, depending on the question, I may or may not answer.

 

I did have a friend once asked if her child's (from Guatemala) birth mother was a prostitute. Her response was priceless... "No why, was yours?"

post #15 of 46

I also like to talk about adoption.  Of course, my son is still a baby, so as he gets older, we may not want to discuss it as much.

 

We did have to take him to the hospital a couple weeks ago and we had already explained that he was adopted to two paramedics, a firefighter, three nurses, and a doctor.  The final person before we could leave the hospital was a paperwork lady.  She asked us a bunch of questions about where we work and addresses and such.  Then she looked at J and said, "Does he have some hispanic in him."  I said, "No.  He is half Black, half White."  She then looks and DH and I (both White) and asks, "And you two are the parents?"  I just said, "Yep."  I was waiting for DH to explain more, but it had been a long night.  He just said, "Yep."  We laughed later about what kind of story she was thinking up in her head.

 

When people have asked questions that I feel are too personal (about J's birthparents in particular), I just answer with, "We prefer to keep that private for J."

post #16 of 46
Thread Starter 

Just this week alone...

 

At the dentist: "where did you adopt him from?"

At a toddler activity: "when did you adopt him?"

At his preschool: "how long have you had him?"

 

I almost want to say, "You know, even though our adoption is more conspicuous than some adoptions, that doesn't mean we want to talk about it 24/7. It's really not at all like wearing a tshirt that says 'Ask me about adoption'!" But I just answered all the questions honestly.

post #17 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by queenjane View Post

 

I guess it comes up for me more often than usual because my boys are the same age but not twins, and they are pretty clearly not related biologically. So usually it goes like this "How old are they?" Four. "Oh? both of them?" yes. "Are they twins?" At that point, i could say yes they are twins. But thats never felt right to me, to refer to them as twins when they are not. so i might say "They are two weeks apart in age." Then the questions follow...


Ha! I am obviously pregnant (7th month) and fostering a one month old baby. I get lots of looks and even really rude stares and eye rolling, especially from older ladies. They seem to think that I am pregnant right after having had a baby and seem to not be capable of doing the math and realizing something just does not add up. You know, how dare I have two babies 3 months apart? ;) I could understand if they looked at me with pity, like  "poor woman, has had a baby some time ago and still looks about to pop," but no...All I can say is that people can be very rude, mean and strange.... and that I actually find it a bit funny. I have also got looks for bottle feeding, which has some humor in it, as I nursed our bio daughter for many years.

post #18 of 46

I hate that "real" question.....

 how insulting to all involved.

Thats exactly what I do now- pinch myself.  Am I real enough for you?   When I talk about my parents people always ask your real mom or which one?  I am like well they are both my real parents- and it can vary which one people consider my real parents.  they are both pretty real people lol as am I.

 

Which one is the real child????? I used to get asked all the time when i lived in my home town.  Since my brother was not adopted and it was well known around that he was a miracle baby after a long time of trying finally adopting then 3 months later getting pregnant.  People would get confused tho which one was the adopted one and which one was the biological one.  So they would ask.... 

 

Other times people would always say to my mom and I - you look so much alike- and we do look similar.... but not really  But we would mostly just smile and say thank you- or say well that's funny cause we are not blood related depending on the situation.  And it would be people who KNEW and had KNOWN my whole life. I sort of look more like my adoptive family then their son does even and he is blood related.  Now that he is getting older he looks alot like my dad tho and of course now that we know my bio family- it is apparent I look like them

 

That's why I think these dialogues are so important- not only are they asking you this now- they are going to be asking him/her this later on.  Its NOT a fun question to answer and good to be prepared so you can prepare your child.

 

 

 

Good for you mamas!!!

post #19 of 46

The other day before the community seder (in front of all the kids):

 

"Where's the other one?"

 

(counts heads) They're all here.

 

"I thought you had four kids."

 

"No, three."

 

"I've seen you with four."

 

"I've had foster kids, but right now, I just have three."

 

(pause)

 

"Oh, I thought they were all yours."

 

My thoughts at the time:

 

1. Gee, thanks for  bringing up a potentially painful subject at a crowded public event. 

2. Did you think I trying to keep my interracial adoption a secret, or did you think I had an affair after the birth of my first white-blond child and before the births of the subsequent white blondies? 

3. I hope my kids aren't listening to you right now. 

5. Wow, I bet this is much worse when the fostered/adopted child is within earshot. 

 

 

 

post #20 of 46

I'm just lurking and reading some of the responses...and I can't believe the things people will say! I own a grooming shop and I often have to ask people (about their DOG), "How long have you had him?" or "Where did you get her?". I can't imagine asking a human parent the same questions about their human child! People can be so rude and ignorant. I like some of the tactics mentioned here.

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