One commonality that adoptees often share is experiencing adoption questions at an early age, and it never stops. When your child is old enough to answer these questions on their own, it is important to prepare them for what you know will be asked of them. Adoption is an interesting topic and often a foreign idea to those who have not been close to the experience. With this, the words, “I’m adopted” seem to say, “Please ask me everything you have ever wanted to know about adoption.” While this can be incredibly annoying, most of these questions do not come from a place of malice. There are three different types of adoption questions your child might be asked and three different ways you might prepare your child to answer them.
90% of the questions your child will be asked about adoption will be simply based off of intrigue. People are simply infatuated with adoption or rather stories that differ from their own. It can be annoying, but it is simply human nature to try and gain information in areas where we are ignorant. While your child should never feel forced to answer any questions, if they feel comfortable, they can simply answer these questions politely within their scope of knowledge and comfort. An example of this question might be, “Where are you from?” While this question is very nosy, it is one to prepare your child for as it is one of those questions that aren’t really meant to be rude, just phrased incorrectly. The person posing the question might be asking about where they were born or what ethnicity they are. Your child can simply answer the question if they feel comfortable, or they can rephrase the question for the asker as an opportunity to educate: “Oh, Do you mean what is my ethnicity or where I was born?
2. Too Personal
These questions toe the line of “too personal” and “too rude.” Many times, the question may not really be rude, but simply more than your child wants to share. The main point to make to your child is that their adoption story is theirs and theirs alone to tell. If they do not want to share any information or answer any questions, that is alright. The main lesson here is teaching them to answer with caliber, but also to decline as politely as possible as well. The questions that are too personal will vary from child to child and will be based on their expectation of privacy. To answer these kinds of questions, you can simply have your child respond, “I would prefer not to talk about it. Thank you for respecting that.”
Hopefully most of the questions your child encounters will be kind questions and those of simple intrigue. However, with anything good also comes at least some small level of bad. There will ultimately be at least one person who will ask a question of your child that is simply out of line. Some examples of questions like this may be, “Why didn’t your birth parents want you?” or “Do you know how thankful you should be that your parents rescued you?” If these made your jaw hit the floor or your stomach churn, good. These questions should make us uncomfortable. There is no situation in which these questions are appropriate yet people still ask them without hesitation.
Depending on your child’s personality, their answers to these questions may differ. For a child who is shy and not a fan of confrontation, they may choose to use the “too personal” response and simply say, “I would prefer not to talk about it. Thank you for respecting that.” This may not work in this situation as if the person who asked was rude enough to ask it, they may be rude enough to persist. In this case, it is totally ok and encouraged for the child to simply walk away from the aggressor. If your child is more outgoing and handles the confrontation with grace, they may choose this time to firmly but politely educate the other person: “I am sorry, but that is really not appropriate to ask.” or “You may not have meant it that way, but that question was very rude.” If they feel comfortable, they may respond to the person as to why the question was inappropriate based on their own experience.
If all else fails in any of these situations, it is always advisable to simply leave the situation. Your child owes answers to no one and is under no obligation to answer any questions posed to them. It is not rude to decline to answer as it is their right to privacy. They can decline politely, but can always decline even if you or someone else believes they should share. It is their story.
Many people are simply curious and do not understand that an adoptee may have been asked that same question five times today. While there are definitely times where questions are simply rude and should be addressed, other times it will be up to your child to take the route of annoyance, assert their right to privacy, or take the opportunity to educate someone about the beauty that is adoption.