Curiosity is an educational drive, and having tact is using curiosity correctly. I have found that in regards to adoption, lots of people have curiosity, few have tact. I asked around and all members of the adoption triad get asked awkward and uncomfortable questions. I feel like the underlying reason is curiosity. Adoption is a unique situation that a lot of people in this world will never experience and so they want to ask questions, they want to learn. Unfortunately, we often forget to taste our words before serving them and that can put us in the dreaded awkward moment. Hopefully these tips can help both the curious and the educator find a way to move past the awkward and into enlightenment.
Tips for the questioner
- Ask yourself, would you want to answer that question if it were about you? If you wouldn’t want to discuss minute details of major life decisions with the neighbor, then don’t ask a birth mother how she could place her child for adoption.
- Ask yourself is this the right atmosphere? Sensitive subjects might best be discussed away from little ears or crowds of people.
- Ask yourself am I just curious or do I want to be educated? How will you use the information to improve your relationship with the child, birth mother, and/or adoptive parents?
Tips for the educator
- It is okay to say, “I don’t feel comfortable discussing that.” The details of your adoption story isn’t yours alone, it belongs to all the members of your adoption. Love and protect each other.
- Check your emotions, ask yourself am I overreacting? Is this something I am sensitive about and hence I am having a larger emotional reaction then intended. Is this a corresponding emotion to a corresponding question?
- Have resources ready to help educate. Refer friends to articles, websites, or documentaries that you love. This will help remove the personal connection that makes you feel awkward.
Try to believe that people have good intentions. Take a deep breath and look for an opportunity to educate. Manage your expectations about people and what they know about adoption. People are not going to be as educated as you and this is where you get option to educate. But don’t forget you need to protect yourself as well and sometimes no answer is as powerful as any answer you can give.