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How do you handle intrusive or inappropriate questions? Tell us the silliest questions you've been asked, and describe your response (whether snappy or not!)

Share Your Story, March/April 2004

Cost factor

The first question that we get asked a lot is "How much did she cost?" If I don't know the person, and if I don't think he's asking to learn more about adoption, I respond, "How much was your house?"

We adopted our daughter as an infant. Someone in my family asked me, "How is she adapting to our language?" I was dumbfounded...not only was she born in the U.S., my husband and I brought her home from the hospital! My husband and I looked at each other, smiled, and said, "Just fine."
Paul and Michelle, via e-mail

"Is she yours?"

Since my daughter came home from Guatemala a year ago, I have kept a list of the odd comments I've heard. Here are some of them:
-Woman on the street: "Is she yours?"
-Woman in a parking lot, in her van: "You shouldn't use that sling until she's old enough to stand." Me: "She's already standing." "Oh. She's small for her age. Where's she from? India?"
-Mother with child in elevator: "What's she mixed with?" (Our friend, Pat, says the best response to that one is "She's part child, part angel.")
-Woman picking up her grandchild from day care (after a long chat): "What do you know about her parents?" (I should have said, "Well, I'm 5'3," 110 pounds…")
-At the office, after showing a photo of Marisa with a Christmas gift, I said, "Her grandma gave her that." Co-worker: "Oh, her grandma in Guatemala?" My answer: "No, her grandmother in Houston-my mother."
Casey, California

Baby bonds

A new acquaintance who brought her children to play with my 21-month-old, Korean-born son asked me, "Does he like you?" I thought she was talking to her daughter. I looked dumbfounded and said, "Do you mean me?"

All the things I should have said escaped me. I said, "I think that if you talked to any adoptive parent, she would tell you that you bond with your child from the moment you see the first picture. There is never any question that this is your child." I am sure she got the message when Kun-Woo snuggled in my arms, said, "Mama," and kissed me.
Gretchen, Connecticut

Turn the tables

My favorite response is "Why do you ask?" It puts the ball back in the other person's court so you can see if they are sincere or just nosy.
Mike and Lisa, via e-mail

Hair me now

My adopted daughter was born with light blond, curly hair. I have black, straight hair. Since she was an infant, people have asked me if her hair was permed ("no") and if my husband had curly hair (to which I say, "It's in the genes").
Donna, Maryland

Double take

I adopted 14-month-old, fraternal twin girls from Ukraine. When I returned home, several people commented that they did not look alike, and said that I should have their DNA tested to see if they were really twins, as if Ukraine could not keep track of children. My response was "Do you think that they (the Ukrainians) simply picked up the first two baby girls in the orphanage and presented them to me?" I also said, "They're twins now!" I could see beyond my daughters' different hair and eye colors to recognize the similarity in facial features.
Parmelee, via e-mail

Laugh it off

My adoptive parents are Caucasian, and I am African-American. Once I called out "Mom" in a store. Three heads whipped around, one of them belonging to a woman who felt the need to ask if I was lost, (since no one nearby could possibly be "my" mother). I spun on my heels in search of my mom. We went back to the inquisitive woman and, with my arm linked in my mom's, I said, "I found her! Can you believe the caseworker matched us up so shoddily? She asked for blonde hair and blue eyes, and look what they gave her!"

Another time, I was with my mom at the mall, pushing my 3-year-old son in his stroller. My daughter was walking beside me. I went into a store to look at something, and when I came out, a woman stopped me and asked, "Is she their nanny? How much do you pay her?" I said, "She's only their nanny today; the other 364 days of the year, she's their grandmother!" I added, "I would pay her, but I feel that letting me be her daughter is payment enough!"

I say these things with an enormous smile on my face. It makes my day!
Rebecca, Ohio

Among "friends"

The worst remark ever made to my husband and myself concerning the adoption of our son from Russia came from a couple we regarded as good friends. Our "good friends" were awaiting the birth of their biological child. As they were assembling their nursery the wife asked her husband if he liked the furniture she had picked out. He told her no, it looked cheap, like "orphanage" furniture. The wife replied that, no, it didn't, and if he didn't believe her he could call us and have us describe the furniture in our son's orphanage. That would prove that their furniture was much better. She repeated this story to us with a straight face while my husband's, my in-laws', and my jaw all hit the ground with astonished thuds. In response I stared at her, then spat out something incoherent and unmemorable. In retrospect I wish I'd let her have it.

The silliest thing anyone has asked was whether or not my 9-month-old son still spoke Russian. Even after I explained that he was only nine months old, they still waited for me to answer the question.

Language Barrier

Our daughter was adopted from Russia. While we were in process, we were asked the following:
Q: Do the children come with guarantees?
A: Yes, they are absolutely guaranteed to be children!

Q: Will you be teaching her English? (She was 2 years old)
A: No, we're going to teach her Spanish. (We actually got a few people going on that one!)

Q: How will you teach her English?
A: She will learn the same way your kids learned English.


I am Caucasian and my husband is Caucasian and Hispanic. Our four children are Caucasian and African-American. One day I was ushering the children out of a convenience store as my husband made his way towards the cashier. She said to me, as I was passing, "So, what, you were with a black guy before?" as she motioned towards my husband! I was completely speechless! My husband, on the other hand, was much more gracious than I, and had a little conversation with her about adoption as he bought our snacks. I overheard her say, "I could never do that." I sure hope she never does!

Recessive Gene

On two separate occasions after bringing our daughter home from China my husband and I, both clearly Caucasian, were asked which one of us was Chinese. Each time, we looked at our daughter and said, "She is." After they left we cracked up laughing.

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