I did not write this, but a lot of does kind of sound like something I'd say- lol. I love Tracy's answers to the "most common questions" adoptive parents get. Yes- I think I've heard almost everything on this list, but I pray that these questions are left burning in my ears and not in those of our children. Please, please don't take this as a blanket "don't ask me any questions about adoption". I LOVE talking about adoption and really love discussing it with anyone interested in the process especially if they are considering it for their family. However, I hope that those who are just "curious" will think before they ask something in front of my children. You never know what kids are thinking or how they will process something they overhear. I have had many many rude questions over the six years that I've been a parent about my age and "how young" I must have been when I started having children. It's all I can do not to scream I'M OVER THIRTY. I was 25 and had been married for two years before my first child was born. Most people quickly try to turn it into a complement of how young I look and how glad I'll be one day. I'm sure I will. Right after I answer the next question. It will be from the wide eyed six year old, "Mamma, what were y'all talking about?"
So, without further adew. . .
Especially in front of their kids.
by Tracy Hahn-Burkett
Author Tracy Hahn-Burkett has a four-year-old daughter adopted from Korea and a seven-year-old biological son. Whether well-intentioned, curious or inappropriate, Hahn-Burkett has had many a question lobbied in her direction regarding her daughter and their family make-up. Hahn-Burkett offers you, the curious, some advice before you speak. Along with ten questions one should not ask an adoptive parent, she gives her blunt responses.
- Is it difficult to love a child who isn’t your own?
My children are my own — both of them. Yes, I know what you mean. And I repeat: both of my children are "my own."
- I could never love someone who doesn’t share my biology.
I’m sorry your heart is so limited. And presumably your spouse doesn’t share your biology, so I’m sorry for him or her, too.
- She/he’s so lucky.
If there are adoptive parents who haven’t heard this one, I don’t know them. Yes, my adopted child is lucky, just like her brother who was born to me — just like any kid blessed with a good family. Moreover, my husband and I are lucky to have her as a daughter. My daughter is not lucky, however, by virtue of having been adopted or because she’s been adopted by an American family. Her life story will always be one that begins with wrenching loss of family, country, language, culture and all things related to the place and people from whence she came. She will have to figure out how to incorporate all of this into her identity at some point, no matter how much we love her.
- That’s great you’re adopting, it’s so much easier than having the child yourself.
Clearly, you have never adopted a child. What, exactly, is easy about it? Is it the hundreds of questions prospective adoptive parents have to answer along the path to adoption, questions that go to the heart of what kind of people they are and dissect every aspect of their lives? Is it committing to a lifetime of knowing that at anytime from toddlerhood through adulthood, your child may come to you with wrenching questions about his or her origins and your answers may be unsatisfactory? Is it knowing that the very fact that your child is yours means that somewhere a woman will probably grieve every day of her life for the child she could not raise? Is it missing the early months, sometimes years, of your child’s life? Is it telling your child when he or she asks to see baby pictures, "Sorry, I don’t have any"? I could go on, but you get the point.
- She’s so adorable; she’s just like a little China doll!
Yes, thank you, I think she’s cute, too [edited to remove a rant about the term china doll ... I take no offense to that particularly because it does not mean a doll from China as so many sensitive AP's take it to mean- I added a link if you're intested] If you’re going to gush and coo over her, please consider that blond-haired, blue-eyed boy standing right next to her. He’s my kid, too. He’s pretty cute, too. And he can hear you.
- Her "real" mother was probably a prostitute.
I’m her "real" mother, and so far as I can recall, I have never been a prostitute.
- What kind of a person would give up such a beautiful, sweet child? (This comment is often accompanied by a clucking of the tongue.)
In general, the kind of person whose options are limited in ways you have never even had to imagine. Birthmothers are not bad people. Very few, if any, birthmothers who relinquish their children do so lightly. For most, it is a searing, heartbreaking decision that will haunt them forever. Also, please understand that when you say things about my child’s birthmother, you are commenting about the woman who gave my daughter life and whose genes remain an inseparable part of her — forever.
- People who adopt children from other countries just don’t want black babies, or People who adopt children from other countries just want an "exotic" child, or People who adopt children from other countries are shirking their responsibility to adopt at home.
- Anything in Chinese addressed to the Asian adopted child.
[I personally would not consider this a huge faux pas- or even put it on a list of 10 things not to ask in front of my child- in contrast I think it would give us a chance to discuss her heritage with the asker and later on at home]
This happened to me when my daughter was a year old. A woman in an elevator said something to my daughter in Chinese, and by the time I figured out what had just taken place, the woman was gone (thereby robbing me of my opportunity to deliver any sort of snarky reply). My daughter is American, has lived in this country since infancy, and the language she understands is English. Why would you assume anything else?
[Many people want to know if Eliza Grace has been taught English- well, she's only 14 months old, so how much of any language would you expect her to know? But the answer is no. She lives in South Korea, with a South Korean family. They might know some English, but I'll bet I know A LOT less Korean :) She'll know a few words of Korean, but will pick up English quickly. Someone did recently make an intersting statement about adopting an international toddler- "don't forget that their thoughts will be in Korean" Toddlers do understand and use a lot more of their language than they verbalize. What a culture shock for this little girl!]
- How much did she cost?
Another one we’ve all heard, generally more than once. But my child is not a melon; I did not pick her up at the store. She cost me nothing. I did, however, spend quite a bit on adoption fees to support the process and travel costs, just as I spent quite a bit on medical care, etc., in conjunction with the conception and birth of my biological son. If you truly want to learn more about the financial aspect of either process, I will be happy to discuss that with you. If you’re only interested in knowing in order to pass judgment, it’s none of your business.
Thanks for reading!