6 Annoying Adoption Questions (Yes, people really ask these things.)

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Oh, adoption questions. When your family stands out a little or is put together a little differently, people are going to ask questions. Maybe they’re curious. Maybe they’re nosy. Maybe they’re just trying to make polite conversation. Maybe they’re genuinely interested in you.

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Since we adopted our first son from China in 2012, we’ve been asked some really crazy questions that run the spectrum from funny to “holy crap did they really just say that?”  Here are 6 annoying adoption questions that most often make me roll my eyes…and people, I am an expert eye-roller.

Six Annoying Adoption Questions

  1. Do they know they’re adopted?

My kids are clearly Asian. If you are halfway sober or have an IQ above six you will pick up on the fact that my husband and I are not Asian. We’re banking on the kids eventually figuring out they come from a different gene pool.

Six Annoying Adoption Questions|Ripped Jeans and Bifocals
Not Asian…


In all seriousness, we talk about adoption all the time. It is part of our everyday conversation. Our children know they’re from China and that we chose them to be in our family. And, this a straight-up ridiculous question, by the way. 

  1. Can’t you have your own kids?

I hate this question and I especially hate when people ask it in front of my kids. They are my own and I am their own and they don’t need to hear some blundering stranger who wants to make small talk suggest otherwise. People probably don’t think about this when they ask if I can have “my own” but the question can have ripple effects.

These kids routinely demand food and snacks and to be driven places and generate copious amounts of laundry. These are my kids. And yes, I know there’s more to being their mom than feeding them and washing their clothes but these are my kids in every way that counts. 

Did you know…

Amazon’s Baby Registry has an adoption option when you sign up. If you are in the process of adopting, sign yourself up! If you know someone who is adopting, share this with them and help them sign up. 

And seriously – we’re talking about my uterus and other parts. If we’re going to have a chat about my lady stuff, shouldn’t you be offering to buy me a drink or something?

  1. Where are their real parents?

I know people mean birth or biological parents. I won’t beat someone up for word choices but they might take offense at my answer:

None of your business.

People are usually taken back by that response, no matter how kindly it is said. But the truth is, it’s not your business. No matter how curious you are or not matter how much you didn’t mean any harm in asking this question.

My children’s birth parents chose life. Beyond that, we expect people to understand this may be a tender subject someday. It may not be, but until they’re old enough to decide how this info is shared, we don’t discuss it openly or casually with people outside of our intimate circle…and especially not while they’re standing right there.

  1. Where did you get them?

I usually answer with some form of “they’re from China” because I know that’s what the question really is. I am always tempted to say “Costco” and watch the looks on people’s faces.   One of these days…

In all seriousness, I would never answer like this or suggest I got my kids at a store or purchased them in any way. 

Related post: Should you buy an adoption gift?

  1. How much did they cost?

Um…is that your real hair color? Your eyebrows don’t match your hair, and what is that on your chin? A birthmark or a zit?

Seriously, if you’re curious about the cost of adoption, Google it. Call an adoption agency or a lawyer.

And why do you really need to know?   By the way, I have a nice lady I met in Target that is solely responsible for this question.

I was on vacation and had forgotten to pack underwear. I mean, of all things to forget, right? My two kids were running around the ladies lingerie section like little Energizer Bunnies on blue meth. Yes. I love being asked about finances while holding a six pack of boring briefs. I mean…who doesn’t?

  1. Now that you’ve adopted, do you think you’ll get pregnant?

See number two.

Not everyone adopts because they can’t pop babies out of their hoo-hah. Some people have strong feelings about bringing more kids into the world or providing a home to a child who needs a family. Maybe it’s best not to assume.

I know there are adoptive families out there that don’t mind these kinds of questions, or even welcome them. I know there are parents who would have seen the nosy-body biddy in Target as an opportunity to gently educate people about adoption.

I’m not one of those people and that doesn’t make me mean or snarky…although I admit to being snarky sometimes. OK, a lot. 

I’m obviously not ashamed of our family’s adoption story and I’ll share it with the right person at the right time for the right reason. I get to decide the terms, not someone I don’t know that’s having a moment of random curiosity.

I don’t get offended because people ask me these questions. Maybe I should, but for the most part, I am used to it. I expect it. I’ve even gotten good at gauging that gleam in someone’s eye when they’re about to ask me something that isn’t any of their beez. My response is usually to smile, nod and move along, unless you’re straight up obnoxious or I’m in a really crappy mood.

It doesn’t bother me that much when people ask adoption questions…but why does it bother people when they find I don’t want to answer them?

Because we just want to be a family.

Six Annoying Adoption Questions|Ripped Jeans and Bifocals
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11 Comments

  1. Beautifully said at the end and seriously cannot understand what is wrong with people that they would even think any of the above questions are normal or OK to ask any parent.

  2. Sometimes,I think people are asking these questions because they know someone who is curious about adopting or have considered it themselves. Sometimes,they are just plain nosy. HA! Enjoyed reading this!

  3. Oh I love those questions. My favorite, I was just back from China, totally sleep deprived and way cranky. I had my year old daughter strapped onto me at the store. A woman asked “is her father Chinese?” I said, “Um, I think so.”

    She walked away quickly.

    Seriously, my favorite response is “Why do you ask?” That usually separates someone who’s nosy from someone who is interested in adopting themselves.

    Thanks for sharing!

  4. Love this post! Our list of questions are very similar. It is amazing what people will ask. You are right about them being bothered when we choose to not answer personal questions.

  5. I actually am a bit different….I am probably in the minority but don’t get too upset about these types of questions. The truth I sometimes open my mouth and insert my foot. So I want to extend grace to those who do the same. I think people are curious about adoption and I don’t mind their asking, even if they don’t get the words “right” I appreciate their efforts for trying. Just my .02.

  6. I’m also not a fan of questions. I feel like I should educate people about adoption when I get them, but I’m so darn tired from being a Mom that most of the time I just don’t have the energy or patients. Thanks for sharing!

  7. This list is perfect! Number one is one of my favorites. It’s hilarious how often people ask this. I remember when my daughter was four or five someone covered her ears and asked if we were planning on telling her she was adopted. Uhhhh pretty sure she would figure it out…

  8. What’s worse is having people ask the children these questions. My daughters are in their teens. I have told them many times, “Remember, you don’t’ have to answer any questions you don’t want to. Just say, “Why to you want to know.” Or say something humorous.

  9. Number 6 makes me SO ANGRY. No, we did not adopt as some magical fertility plan. That statement cheapens the value of my daughter, whom we love and chose, and it also cheapens the physical struggle that I endure. Sure, folks, adopting a kid will magically clear up all the scar tissue in my Fallopian tubes. That’s totally how that works. It’s just rude and insensitive. My daughter was not a back up plan in hopes of getting me pregnant. She (and adoption) were plan A all along. We just happened to discover my lady part problems when we thought “eh, why not try to have one too?”

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