A Guide For Adoptees On Answering Ignorant Questions

The answers you need to know for the questions that shouldn't be asked.

Tom Andriola July 13, 2017

When people don’t know about a certain topic, they tend to ask ignorant questions. Most of the time, they don’t mean anything malicious by it, but there are ways you can answer these questions that will help them to get the point. Adoption is no different. As an adoptee, here are some ignorant questions I’ve been asked over the years, and how I have responded.

Do you know your real mom?
1. Do you know your real mom?

Of course I know my mom. She raised me. But I don’t think that’s really what you’re asking. Perhaps you are interested in knowing whether I have done a search for my biological mother. Yes, I have, and I’ve written extensively about it if you are interested in reading my story. If that’s not the case for you, it’s perfectly fine to just say it’s a personal matter that you don’t feel comfortable talking about.

Why did your real mom give you up?
2. Why did your real mom give you up?

I don’t know. I couldn’t communicate effectively back then (before I could speak!), so I couldn’t ask her. But seriously, if you don’t know this is a sensitive, personal question, go back to etiquette school. To be a little less snarky, though, you could suggest that there are multiple reasons why a birth parent might place a child for adoption, but that you are not sure about your own circumstances.

Don’t you feel lucky you ended up where you did?
3. Don’t you feel lucky you ended up where you did?

I wouldn’t call it feeling lucky. I love my parents and I love my family, but it doesn’t feel lucky to be relinquished by your biological family. To further complicate things, I had two older brothers who were out of control growing up. The house was perpetually chaotic, and the eldest sexually abused me when I was eleven. Do I feel lucky? No.

Are you two twins?
4. Are you two twins?

I remember going to a Chinese restaurant when I was growing up, and the woman that greeted us asked me if my brother and I were twins. We were both adopted at different times from different foster homes. He was two and a half years older than me and we really didn’t look much alike at all. I just said no, but it bothered me.

What’s your family history?
5. What’s your family history?

I have had the same doctor for a long time. Every year, when I go in for a physical, he asks about my family health history for some type of cancer or disease. Every year I cringe because I know it’s coming. Dude, if you can’t remember some basic information about your patients, take thirty seconds to read the chart before you go in. It would make a world of difference.

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Tom Andriola

Tom Andriola advocates for adoptee rights and shares his personal experiences about being adopted and his successful, independent search for both biological parents. To see more of his writing, visit Tom's Facebook page.


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