The Perfect Response to ‘Why Didn’t You Adopt from Your Own Country?’

Most times I put on my best pageant smile and say “Why do you ask?” But sometimes I want to get a little more sassy.

Jennifer S. Jones November 14, 2017

It’s a scene all too familiar to those in the adoption world. I’m standing at a function with a glass of Chardonnay in hand. I pull out my phone to check the time and the person next to me sees my screensaver. “Who’s that?” they ask.

“My son,” I reply, pride seeping into my voice. “He’s four going on sixteen.”

“Huh,” they reply, “What is he, Asian?” I grow uncomfortable with the direction of our conversation.

“Um, yes, he was adopted from China almost three years ago.”

“China?” they reply with disgust. “What’s wrong with America? Why didn’t you adopt from here?”

I owe this stranger nothing but I feel compelled to answer. As adoptive parents, I feel our job is to educate and to help our children see that families are made in a variety of ways. Most times I put on my best pageant smile and say “Why do you ask?” Sometimes, like standing in line at the grocery store, I answer more brusquely, “Why do you want to know?” But sometimes . . .  sometimes I want to say:

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Jennifer S. Jones

Jennifer S. Jones is a writer, performer, storyteller and arts educator. She holds an MFA (Playwriting) from NYU Tisch. She has written numerous plays including the internationally renowned, award-winning Appearance of Life. Her amazing transracial transcultural family was created through adoption from China and India. She is passionate about the adoption community and talks about the ins and outs, ups and downs, joys and "is this really us?!" whenever she can. She writes about her experiences at

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