This is a problem for adoptees. It can even be a problem for siblings of adoptees or children of adoptees. What problem you ask? Feeling like you’re forced to answer questions even if it’s from well meaning people. Let me provide you with a few examples.
Oh, you’re adopted. Have you searched for your real parents? I use the term real parents because it’s often said like this but who the real parents are is entirely up to the adoptee. Some feel it’s both the biological and the adoptive, some feel it’s only the adoptive, some feel it’s only the biological and others are more complex say they see their stepfather and their biological dad as their real parents but their adoptive mom and biological mom have been horrible in their life. It’s based on how much an adoptee knows about the corruption, discrimination, racism, and misogyny involved in the adoption industry meshed with their own personal experiences.
However, I’ll just focus on the examples without the nitty gritty of incorrect word usage because I’ve already focused on that before.
Oh, you’re adopted. Have you searched for your real parents?
So where were you born?
Do you like being adopted?
Is your brother your real brother, you know what I mean sorry, is he adopted like you too?
Did someone in your family adopt you?
Why did your parents adopt your sister from Korea?
Were you in an orphanage?
Do you want to search?
Why are you searching, did your adoptive parents do a bad job? Did they not love you?
Do you want to adopt your own children some day?
Do you speak any insert language of original country?
Did you watch the new Disney movie about the orphan girl who gets adopted?
I guess it’s safe to say that all of us adoptees have felt like we have been obligated to answer these questions, or others. So, perhaps let me break this down into parts to talk to different groups.
PART I- Adoptees
- You don’t have to answer if you don’t want to. Even if you’re a child or a teenager, you don’t have to answer if you want to.
- People need to understand it’s mentally tiring to answer these questions.
- Use your gut instinct and know if this person is asking because you feel they might want to tell you their own story, because they care to know the answer, or because like most they want to lecture you on how they know more of a lived experience they do not have. We call this travesty adopteesplaining.
- Even if you answered questions yesterday, last month, last year, or answered questions for ten years the moment you wake up and decide you’re not answering questions for whatever time, for whatever reason needs to be respected.
- You can choose who you answer questions to and who you talk about adoption with. Aunt Bobbie Jo doesn’t get a pass just because she’s your aunt.
- You don’t even have to answer questions about your adoption to other adoptees.
- You can answer questions to anyone. You can tell anyone you want about adoption, even if it’s your local bus driver you take your morning and night routes home with Monday through Thursday before and after work. Just make sure, please, please make sure the facts you give are indeed factual. Don’t ever let anyone but yourself shut you up, but if you are giving information that is wrong and harmful then please hush.
- Depending on the situation and the person how you say no will depend. Here are some examples:
A. Sorry, I’m not in the mood to talk about that now.
B. I’m just not in the mood to talk about adoption.
C. This is a topic I choose to discuss only with other adoptees.
D. Your question is too complex to answer simply. This is a common problem. People ask questions, through no fault of their own, without knowing the answer can literally take hours and hours to answer.
E. I know you’re pro adoption and won’t listen to adoptees so why are you bothering asking me?
F. Here’s some books and blogs I can refer you to.
PART II – Adoptive Parents
It’s not your place to tell your adopted child’s story to the public. Stop telling it to the public, stop posting it on Instagram, stop making blogs about it. Stop trying to get yourselves on the news. We get it, you see yourself as the savior of orphans, but there is only one true Saviour of orphans and He knows the corruption involved and He, our Jesus Christ, knows most orphans aren’t truly orphans. Stop stealing your child’s story, stop stealing their thunder. A lot, a lot of adoptive parents are going to regret this when their children are older and are pissed the f—– off for blabbing about very personal details about them the world over. What you see as a celebration, like a video of being handed your baby that went viral on your local news can be a painful reminder to your child that everyone celebrated. A reminder that they love you and are happy to live with you, but a painful reminder that their biological parents died in a fiery train wreck or were on drugs or were simply too young and too poor to care for them, or were even married and already had nine kids living in Appalachian poverty but instead of helping them out you’d rather selfishly spend the money on taking one of their kids. This isn’t the 1970s or the 1980s, for example, when people adopting didn’t know any better. This is the 21st century. The time of the internet, you have no excuse.
You needn’t tell your adopted child’s story to everyone you know personally. If you tell, you don’t even need to tell all of the details.
If you have told your child’s entire story online then now is a good time to delete it. Apologize if you want to, I don’t see an apology being necessary because most adoptive parents have no idea it’s not okay to be telling their child’s entire life story online.
Yes, you can say we adopted our child online, but the nitty gritty details are for her or him to discuss. When you do talk about adoption, you need to be an ally and mention things such as
“at the time of Rheanna’s adoption we didn’t know the adoption industry isn’t credentialed, resulting in thousands of kids being adopted into unhappy homes”
“when we adopted Bryce we didn’t know the importance of sibling bonding. We adopted him from Venezuela and are now devasted to not have a clue where Bryce’s two brothers and sister are. Please never make the same mistake we did.”
“We adopted our son, and love him dearly, name withheld, but after reading the blogs and voices of adoptees my husband and I can’t be any less than frustrated. We are behooved to change a very corrupt system and demand Holt International is taken to court.”
There are many adoptees who hate all adoptive parents. I don’t think this is fair. There are many first mothers who also hate all adoptive parents. Again, this isn’t fair. If there’s going to be any hatred, and there should be, it should be to those working in the adoption industry because they are well aware of the deceit, lies, discrimination, corruption, and most importantly, child endangerment, that they’re doing. Adoptive parents can be allies too. One way you can be an ally is by not blabbing all about your child.
PART III- Everybody Asking
We understand, as in we adoptees understand, that you might come with great sincerity in wanting to know the answers so you might be alarmed when we don’t respond nicely. This is because most people who ask questions to adoptees are insensitive and not asking to truly listen, but to lecture.
- Understand the narrative that each adoption is unique is completely false. There are some things that are layover from millions of adoptions like the governments stealing the real birth certificates of adopted people and giving them fake ones. This has nothing to do with birthparent privacy because this even happens to say an eight year old child who is adopted who already knows his biological parents. Birthparent privacy was a rumor started by the human trafficker and child kidnapper Georgia Tann.
- Please try understand that sometimes your questions can be very draining and degrading. Again, this isn’t your fault it’s because society, such as news and movies, doesn’t ask us adoptees directly how to politely word things.
- Your questions such as “what’s wrong with adoption?” or “if you love your parents, why do you want to search?” are questions that literally can take hours if not days to answer. Heck, what’s wrong with adoption would take an entire year’s college course lecture to answer.
- It is okay to ask questions, it is not okay to assume an adopted person has to answer you.
So, how can you phrase your questions? First, if you get a very nasty reaction from one adoptee don’t assume we’re all like that. Somebody who starts off answering your question with “you have no business asking” probably has some unresolved hurt.
So try these examples as tips:
A. Don’t assume, ask.
B. Is it okay if I ask you some questions about adoption? or about your adoption?
C. Would you mind if I asked you a few questions about adoption? or about your adoption?
D. I’m a bit confused, can you help me understand why I get different answers to the same question from adoptees?
So let’s piece it together.
Is it okay if I ask you some questions about adoption? Ok great. Why is there such an outrage lately about international adoption?
Would you mind if I asked you a few questions about your adoption? Oh, thanks. Why didn’t the state government let you know your heritages at first? Can you get your original birth certificate in your state? Have you applied for yours yet?