The questions start as soon as you share that you’re starting the adoption process. Questions range from the racial heritage of the birth parents to the cost of adoption. Then, when your baby comes home and is out and about, people may ask if he is your “real” child.
When people ask rude questions and make remarks to adoptive parents, they may be oblivious about how they’re coming across. They may be uninformed about how open adoption looks today. But that doesn’t mean their comments don’t sting.
It’s OK to politely say that you don’t share private information about your child. Instead, assure the askers that you and your family are happy and blessed. You could also answer unwelcomed questions about your child’s adoption in a general way, gently using positive adoption language to correct negative terms.
Here, I share a few suggestions for answering these rude questions, along with some witty answers:
“How could his ‘real parents’ give him up?”
You might share that his birth mother made an adoption plan for her child because she loved him and wanted the best for him. And at that point in her life, she wasn’t ready or equipped to become a mom. So sometimes, questions can be a learning and growing opportunity for everyone involved.
For most birth parents, the reasons why they choose adoption are complex, from extreme poverty to a personal tragedy. And even if we know why our child’s birth family decided on adoption, we’re not going to just share with any random stranger out there.
It’s a private and personal story between my child’s birth family and my child. AND my child has two sets of “real parents.” Calling their birth parents “real parents” implies that we’re something less.
“How much did she cost?”
The fact is, no baby joins a family for free. Just think about those big hospital bills! When we adopted, we also paid for services provided, except our “midwives” were adoption professionals, social workers, and adoption attorneys. So that was where all those adoption fees were for: for services provided, not for our baby.
Adoptive parents pay adoption professionals for their work so that they can adopt a baby. Fees charged to an adopting couple are used to support the agency’s work. Adoption involves the time and efforts of numerous people who provide services to biological parents and would-be adoptive parents. Each step of the procedure involves the work of highly trained professionals.
Also, agencies and attorneys must keep updated on adoption laws and regulations. They must pay rent or mortgage for their facility and the costs involved with keeping up that facility.
The fee that adoptive parents pay when they receive a baby pays bills incurred by the agency as well as salaries of caseworkers, secretaries, the director, and others. In addition, the law in most states requires that the adopting parents pay only for the prenatal care, the physician’s services, and the hospital bill. This is meant to defray the medical costs incurred by the woman giving birth.
“I’m sorry you couldn’t have one ‘of your own’.”
Saying this assumes that adoption is a last-resort means of creating a family, which definitely isn’t the case! Our child is as much “our own” as any biological child.
Depending on the type of question, who is asking it, and other factors, you can decide to share all or part of your story. Sharing your beautiful adoption story is a wonderful way to celebrate your family. Your story is different from a birth parent’s pregnancy and birth story, but that doesn’t mean it’s any less special. So share the love if you feel the time is right!
Have you ever gotten a rude question like this? If so, how did you handle it? Please share with our audience by leaving a comment below!
Editor’s Note: This article was originally published on August 28, 2017, and has since been updated.
Mardie Caldwell, C.O.A.P., is a nationally-recognized adoption expert and the Founder of Lifetime Adoption Agency. She has been working in adoption since 1986 and is also an award-winning author and speaker.
Mardie knows the sorrow of coping with infertility, and is an adoptive parent who experienced many of the challenges adoptive families might face. In various media appearances worldwide, publications, and her podcast, Mardie important steps that must be taken to complete a safe and secure adoption. Having adopted her son, Mardie knows firsthand the joys of raising an adopted child.
Mardie’s life mission is to help adoptive parents and birth parents find each other. With Lifetime Adoption Agency, she seeks to build happy families and provide precious infants and children with a loving and secure future.