After adopting, I was caught off guard by the some of the questions people would blurt out–questions that I thought would be asked more subtly, or, at least, would not be asked in front of my child; questions I wish I’d had a chance to practice answering beforehand.
Question #1: “When did you get her?”
There’s got to be a better way to phrase that, but that’s how people say it. What they really mean is, “How old was she when she was placed for adoption?”
It took me a while to realize that, because my daughter is biracial and I’m white, people assume she was adopted through the foster system or internationally. My guess is they’re hoping for an answer that involves some sordid tale of a dysfunctional family or a fascinating story about international travel. I offer neither.
My answer: “We got her the day she was born.”
Maybe that’s not a great way to phrase that idea either, but it tends to end the conversation.
The answer I give when pressed for more details is, “We were chosen by her birth mother one week before her birth. We went to the hospital on the day she was born and brought her home when she was three days old.”
The questioner is always surprised. Sometimes the conversation turns next to questions about whether we have a relationship with her birth mother, but usually the questioner moves on to another topic.
Recently, I showed a friend a picture of my daughter at 10 months. In the picture, my daughter is standing and clapping. I said, “She was 10 months old here.” The friend misunderstood and thought I said 2 months. “10 months, not 2 months,” I corrected. “Oh, I was going to say, ‘Somebody lied to you,'” she said. The conversation moved on to something else before I could fully process that she didn’t think I was there when the picture was taken.
I was there for the picture. I’ve been there every day of my daughter’s life. Statistics on domestic infant adoption are hard to find, but despite the stereotype, domestic infant adoptions do occur. Domestic infant adoption of children of color is not that uncommon.
People are curious. I don’t mind that. But I wish they would word their questions more thoughtfully, and avoid asking them in front of my daughter, especially when her brother–who is my biological child–is present. (No one ever follows up with “And when did you get him?”)
“When did you get her?”
Sounds like there was a purchase date. The truth is, it doesn’t matter when she joined our family. We are a family now and forever.
If it’s not the “when” question, it’s the “where” question.” I’ll address that one in my next post.