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...