Sunday, June 27, 2010

Fake Kids: Real Moms

Or...what not to say to an adoptive mother.

While showing off picture of my children the other day, a person who knew we had one biological child and one adoptive child asked, "Which one is your real child?"

Any adoptive mom knows this line and loathes it. With a passion. Real child? As opposed to a fake one, you mean?
Most adoptive mothers I know would love to answer with something snarky, "No, my children are fake. Don't they make them look so realistic though?"
But the standard answer - and the one I gave - was a calm (but near-boiling), "They're both my real children."
The lady backtracked, "You know what I mean!" She was a nice girl, so I let it drop, but I was angry.

Maybe I do know what she meant, but had my children been with me they could have easily assumed that this lady was implying that they were not really my children. And let me tell you what...regardless of whether or not I birthed my children doesn't matter in the least. What matters is that I MOTHER MY CHILDREN.
I really wanted to retort, "No, I don't know what you mean..." just to see what she would say. But I didn't, I held my tongue.

The questions get worse when you adopt a child from a different race or culture (and even within your own race you hear this one).
"Where are his real parents?"
Um... I'm right here, standing in front of you. Just like my child, I'm very real.
Asking where "real" parents are is silly. I'm the parent, I'm very real. If you want to know where the birth or biological parents are, ask me that. They are not this child's parents any longer, especially where DSS cases are concerned. And forgive me for being vague, but you don't need to know specifics concerning my child's history.

"Where did you get her from?"
Snarky answer: Babies R Us carries a lot of variety these days!
Real Answer: If you mean where did we adopt from, the answer is _______. (I've even gotten this one, since Mac came home at 10 months a lot of people assumed we adopted from Europe. When asked where he's from, I answer, "South Carolina.")
You can ask where we adopted from, but phrase it that way. Don't make it sound like we purchased our child at a store. Children are not pets.

"Did your kids cost a lot?"
Do you ask someone how much their C-section cost or how much fertility treatments cost? NO. It's private and none of your business. Besides, adoptive children don't cost more than biological children, but the paper & leg work involved does cost. If you are truly inquisitive about the cost of adoption, ask, "I hate to pry, but would you mind sharing what the cost of adoption was for you?" Much nicer (still none of your business unless you are considering adoption, but still...nicer). Again, children are not from mega-centers and are not pets.

I think the problem is that people who don't know anything about adoption don't know how to phrase their questions. But just as you wouldn't pry into people's privacy where conceiving a child is concerned (you don't come right out and ask about fertility treatments or sex do you? No.), don't pry about adoption either.
If you are genuinely curious or interested, think before you talk.

And for the record, all adoptive children are very real. My children are very real. They can hear you when you ask rude questions with them around and that can make them think that adoption is a bad or degrading thing when it's not.
I am the real mother of both my children. I kiss their boo-boos, I sing them to sleep, I discipline them when they're naughty. It does not matter which one I birthed and which one I did not. I don't differentiate and neither should you.
Both my children...keeping it real...

52 comments:

Anne said...

I actually DID have people ask me about my sex life, what contraception I use, how much IF treatment cost, and lots of other interesting questions. I even had several people say, "Why don't you just adopt? It's easy". Oh the naivety!
One day I got quite sick of the questions, and someone asked me why I was going out of town - I told her "I'm going to buy a baby!" She was quite confused and shocked, so I had to explain I was going to get IF treatment. I don't think anyone in that circle of friends ever asked me those personal questions again... so, got the result I was looking for, in a sadly crude and tasteless manner.

Holly said...

I think I shared this on PAI once, but my mom would get tired of people asking and actually took her fingers and spread out her eyes and said she's my daughter, can't you see how alike we look?! LOL ;) People can be sooooo stupid...

Allison said...

Thank you, Anne and Holly, for sharing your stories.

Beth said...

The other questions/statements I hate are: When are you guys going to have another one? Elaina needs a brother/sister...she can't be an only child. Blah blah.... You never know what people are going through....if they're having trouble getting pregnant and can't have a baby...or recently had a miscarriage...or any of the many other problems you come across...people are stupid!

Lavender Luz said...

Oh, yes, this:

"They can hear you when you ask rude questions."

Caren with a "C" said...

A lot of people put their foot in their mouth when they don't think before they speak.

Happy SITS Day!

Kimberly at Rubber Chicken Madness said...

People are stupid. But mostly well-meaning. I wish people would think before they speak. But, fortunately, there are bloggers who are setting the record straight about some of these issues.

Kudos to you for being one of them.

Stopped by from SITS today :)

Sophi Belle said...

This is very useful information. I've never really thought about it and I see your point!! Those questions sound so... mean. But I suppose many people are asking this way from ignorance. To be honest, I didn't know much about adoption and raising adopted children until recently.

I admire you for what you do, really. I personally think it is amazing that you are able to love a child that you did not gave birth to. I wonder if I would be capable of such love.

Sarah said...

Sorry you have to deal with so much insensitivity!

Christa aka The BabbyMama said...

Oh, you'd be surprised what the rude-ies find to ask about! How much did your IVF cost... yep, people ask that. When I was pregnant with twins, so many people were like IVF, what? No, but... thanks for asking? Rude is rude is rude!

Good on you for responding politely. If I were in your shoes, I would shame so many people!

Good Girl Gone Green said...

I think people do not have filters and can be insensitive. Saying you know what I mean is not an excuse for their naivety. Great post. Your children are beautiful!

Jamie said...

Happy Sits Day!

I totally get this one.

We have two sons. Biological adopted from Ethiopia.

Some of the questions I get are just pure ignorance. Some like the ones you mentioned are really hard to hear.

I'm trying to make it a point not to turn into those overly sensitive adoptive moms I've run across that I find pushy and defensive. It is a turn off for everyone talking to them. What a waste of an opportunity to speak about the truths of adoption to them-

but it's hard....I feel like i"m slowly turning bitter since I get bombarded by rude questions on a daily basis...

I keep praying that God will not harden my heart.

heather_artiste said...

A great read, especially for someone who thinks they might adopt someday. The nerve of some people and what they find ok to ask.

Robin said...

So very well put. I believe in this age of electronics and internet, the English language has given way to improper word usage, abbreviated thinking (the use of abbreviations and abbreviated sentences) and ignorance of social etiquette. I think that these acquaintances knew not that they were being insulting....they were just speaking from the hip; no thought in how to put it politely or if they should ask at all. They are just speaking out, act upon and questioning in the only manner they know....because, obviously, no one ever taught them better. I am taken back that people should want to know how much one's house cost, how much one makes or more personal matters pertaining to the intimacy of two people. It is none of their business and they need to get a life of their own....and they might purchase themself a book on etiquette as well. But, whether or not you put them straight using a more blunt approach (your “snarky” answer) or a gentler “real answer” approach, it is good that you did. Either way it sends them off thinking about what they said, which in turn, they may think before they speak the next time.

Venus said...

Boy, it's hard for me to imagine that people actually say these kinds of things, and I'm sorry you've had to experience it!

Tiffany said...

Stopping in from SITS. This was an eye opening post. I agree with the above commenter on the social skills of this age of technology. They don't speak clearly or even think clearly enough to have a civilized conversation.
I would never ask a stranger how much their child cost?! Let alone ask them if their children were "all theirs?"
I have a friend who was taking fertility treatments and I never once asked her what she spent. It doesn't matter, it's none of my business. Unless she wanted to share her story with me, it's off limits as far as I am concerned.

maggie said...

Oh my word! I couldn't love this more and I've written about the same thing as my daughter is adopted and we went through five years of infertility treatments. I also love when people are in the middle of talking to me about my daughter and they get really quiet and almost in a whisper ask, "Will you ever tell her she's adopted?"

Seriously? Is this 1920? I'm all like--uh....she knows. Why is being adopted so bad that you have to keep it a secret?

Laura said...

I think sometimes people don't know what to say so they say (or ask) the first thing that pops into their head without thinking about it. When I had a miscarriage (2 actually), I heard some of the worst comments, like "well you weren't really pregnant"...What? But like you, I just let it go. (If I meet anyone who has adopted, I'll remember not to ask any of those questions.)

Happy SITS Day!

Tricia Oakes said...

Ha! I have had people ask me how much my c-sections cost, why I chose to have them, why I chose not to breastfeed, and then judge me vehemently for MY decisions about MY children.

Some days, the sassy mouth is snarkier than others, so different people get different answers. Or I just look at them until they get uncomfortable, which is also fun.

Happy SITS Day!

Tricia said...

Happy SITS Day! Great post. Going to pass it along to a mom trying to adopt!

Allison said...

Thank you everyone! I appreciate it!

Marie said...

What a GREAT attitude, I love it! They are your children, period the end. :)

April said...

Ha good answers! People say dumb, dumb things!

Laura said...

I loved this post. I wish you would answer with your snarky comments sometimes. But that's the selfish part of me. I am exploring other faith blogs through SITS as part of the improve your blog in 31 days challenge. I am enjoying yours. It made me laugh even though what you wrote was painfully true.

Nessa said...

I'd be a lot more likely to use the snarky responses. My mother's boyfriend and his sister are adopted, and his parents have one biological child. They're all the same. You know, they're all 'real'.

Tara Lotufo said...

It really boils down to common sense...it scares me how many people lack it.

maggie said...

A-freakin-Men. I am regularly irritated to the brink about our daughter's adoption. I think it just shows how far we still need to come in cultivating a culture of adoption in this country. If it was as prevalent as it it needs to be (on all sides) I don't think these questions would even be an issue! I wrote about this exact thing on my own blog as well a while back! Great post!

http://www.apairofpinkshoes.com/2012/02/adoptive-moms-wish.html

misssrobin said...

It's sad how often we say stupid things without thinking. I'm sorry people have been so rude.

Your children are adorable, by the way.

doseofreality said...

Happy SITS day! :)
Such a great post! What a wonderful way to help people understand how absolutely inappropriate their questions are...you would think they would know...but no, they don't! ;)

Mothering From Scratch said...

{Kathy} Treating children as if they are a commodity, not truly human beings, makes my blood boil. I have had many insensitive comments come my way about having 4 kids. I did respond to one comment about whether any of them were "planned" by saying, "Surely you really didn't mean to ask such a personal question!" It did shut them up.

Jamie H said...

I can't believe some people can be so rude! I would never think to ask questions like those!
Happy SITS Day!!

Raquel said...

I cannot believe people would actually say those things..well I do believe it, but it is unfortunate. Congratulations on your growing family & hope that you have a wonderful summer with your children! Happy SITS day!

Christine said...

This kind of makes my blood boil too. Somewhat similarly, people always assume my mother-in-law is the nanny since my kids are half Chinese/half Polish and definitely look more Asian than not. My MIL is super sweet and would never be offended by it but it drives me crazy. Or when people ask me "where I'm from" - I know they want to ask whether I'm Chinese, Japanese or Korean but I often answer that "I'm from NYC." I can't help myself sometimes but I wish that I could take the high road like you more often :-)

mom2kmjx2 said...

People can be so rude. You are thier mom no matter how they came to be. The stork bought both of them anyway just dropped one off at the wrong doorstop but he got to where he belonged all along. I hope that came out as funny as it sounded in my head.

Fire Wife said...

Excellent post!

{{ stopping by from SITS }}

Geeta said...

Thank you for this post! I haven’t interacted with many adoptive parents, but I’m glad I came across this so whenever I do, I’ll be sure to keep my questions to myself or at least phrase them appropriately.

Jester Queen said...

Happy SITS day! Both of your very real children look adorable as all get out. My Mom is a grandmother adopting a grandchild. And it was a CPS case. And it was dirty and horrible, and dear GOD the court costs were crippling, and she would fight that battle again, every second of it, for the chance to give my niece a safe life. In adopting my niece she also gave me a chance to have a little sister again, a gift beyond imagining. My sister-niece is five months older than my daughter. And she is very, very real.

Housewife Empire said...

My husband is adopted and he's really sensitive about that kind of stuff, too. I'm sorry you've had to deal with people like that; it's not easy.

{Came over from SITS}

another jennifer said...

People are so rude! I commend you for being so calm as you answer people's dumb questions while also pointing out the inappropriateness.

Happy SITS Day!

Rebecca R. said...

I can't believe you have to deal with that!! People will ask the most ridiculous and stupid questions about things they don't understand. My good friend is from Russia, and he actually had people ask him in high school whether he slept in caves!! Ridiculous. Good for you for taking the high road!!

Btw, your children are adorable!! Visiting you from SITS!

Elena said...

Hi, I'm visiting from SITS. Great post! People are so nosy (and inappropriate) when it comes to children, in general. They ask the most intrusive questions! I think you handled it well.

bonnie-bonnbonnboutiqe.blogspot.com said...

I sent this along to my aunt who has to adopted black children and she is white. she gets this question all of the time!

Happy sits Day!

Angie said...

Thanks for these great reminders. Thanks for sharing them with us in such an honest and straight-forward way.

Happy SITS day!

P.S. I just have to keep up with you. It seems as though we have a lot in common and I think I could really benefit from getting to know you better. :)

Denise Malloy said...

Well said. It seems that some folks think that opens a door to ask all sorts of questions that they'd never dare ask anyone else. Glad you have some answers to set them straight! (and some just flat out need an education about the whole matter!)

jamie @ [kreyv] said...

I've had the same questions about her "real mom" or "where is she from". I like to give people the benefit of the doubt, but man, they can be stupid! We are adopting our second, and I have to remember that people mean well when they are constantly asking, "So, did you get picked?" I want to say, "Hey, don't call me, I'll call you. BTW, did you have sex last night?"

Thanks for sharing your blog today!

Chris Carter said...

BOTH your beautiful children are adorable! I struggle with comments and awful looks of horror when my child is in an asthmatic state and I have her out of the house. It breaks my heart to hear them and see them around both me and her, as though she is an alien and needs to be kept in a cage or medical bubble. I believe all people live in various ways which are unrelatable to others, and it's a shame more people can't have both open minds and open hearts to respectful views. Stopped in from SITS. :)

OneMommy said...

Looks to me like you have 2 beautiful, very real children. I'd have a hard time not saying something snarky when asked a question like that.

Happy SITS day!

Jennice said...

I am an adopted child. My aunt took me in when i was 7 and officially adopted me when i was 14. My bioloigical mother is currently living with me, my mom, my daughter, and my youngest brother. When she gets mad at me about something she'll tell my adopoted mom " You don't understand, your not her real mother". My adopted mom will always be my "real" mom and my biological mokm needs to understadn that she doesn't really hold any weight with me as a mom. I fully support how you feel about YOUR children!

Kim said...

This is a fabulous post! I have to admit that I may have blundered one day when inquiring about a friend's adoption process...and it has haunted me ever since, for I could see the hurt in her eyes. I chalk it down to not knowing how to phrase a question properly (but that is probably a pretty lame excuse), and I floundered around for the right words. I only wish that I came across your blog earlier, for you have some wonderful tips! Thank you!!

krystle said...

I love your responses. I've made that mistake before by saying real instead of biological. I meant to say I'm the biological mother but I instead said I was the real mother. I had to to take that foot out of my mouth real quick.

Miz Dinah said...

It sounds like you are a really great real mother to some really awesome real kids. :)

Cheryl said...

Yes, some people can be so insensitive without even realizing it. It honestly makes me feel really sad that people would ask those types of questions in front of the kids.

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