November is National Adoption Month. You may see stuff in your Facebook feed about being “chosen” and “born in my heart, not under it.” Those are wonderful sentiments. This isn’t an article about wonderful sentiments, so hold on, okay?
What not to say to adoptive families
My sons did not enter this world via my vajayjay. If you see me at the store with two almond-eyed, sticky-fingered boys trailing behind me whining for Fruity Pebbles, you may assume I’m married to some hot Asian guy or that I’m the nanny. Who am I kidding? I am waaay too old to be the nanny. But seriously, we get loads of questions about adoption and being a multiracial family from total strangers.
Sometimes these questions are annoying or straight-up rude. My reaction is determined by a complicated equation factoring in current caffeine level multiplied by number of dumbass drivers I’ve encountered that day. Sometimes, it’s just best not to ask me questions that aren’t “May I refill your wine glass?”
Maybe we're tired of reading “what not to” articles on the internet but really…here are some real-talk examples of what not to say to adoptive families. People ask nosy questions about my kids in stores and waiting rooms. Anytime I’m not moving and make accidental eye-contact, I apparently emit invisible signals that scream “Yes, please! Ask me something that’s none of your damn business!”
- “What’s he mixed with?”
This question interrupted my deep thoughts about whether I could get another week out of my boxed hair-color root job or if I needed some Nice n’ Easy time. Seeing my look of confusion, the asker whispered:
“You know…his race.”
“He’s Chinese,” I whispered.
I have no effing clue why we were whispering but I went with it so I could get back to worrying about really important stuff, like my hair.
- “He’s so smart! It’s in his genes, right?”
Asked while my four-year-old was licking the screen of my phone. Sure, lady. He’s writing an app with his tongue. MIT is all over us.
- “Do they speak Asian?”
No, they speak Klingon. Seriously, who doesn’t know “Asian” isn’t a language?
Even though curiosity gets old I try to err on the side of nice when responding to adoption questions (when I’m well-fortified with coffee, chocolate, or booze ). I have no trouble (semi-nicely) letting someone know they’ve gotten too personal; but the straight up MYOFB is reserved for:
“How much did they cost/why didn’t their real parents want them/aren’t you afraid they’re going to turn out crazy/can you give them back/is it different than adopting a dog because I adopted a dog and that was really hard/are you still trying to get pregnant/they’re so lucky/where are they from no really where are they from?”
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Yes. People really say this stuff.
Aside from the fact that I don’t like interrupting my regularly scheduled programming to hold a Q & A at Target, I usually choose not to answer these questions because they’re not myquestions. I have no idea how my kids will view the story of their beginnings once they’re older and have a better grasp of things. Besides, I’m not an exclusive source of adoption information. Google, k?
Parting shot: Grocery store.
Lady stops to admire my boys as I hoist a 10-pound bag of rice into my cart. (This was during the 15-minute window of the day where shirts were clean and nobody had hanging boogies).
“I imagine they eat a lot of rice.”
Would you walk up to a Mexican family and say, “I imagine you eat a lot of tacos.” Would you???
Resist the urge to comment on stuff in people’s carts. Unless you routinely say stuff like, “Ooh pads, that time of the month?” or “Lactaid? Milk gives me the squirts, too.” But seriously. Just because “Hey, I wonder . . . ” pops into our heads doesn’t mean “Can I ask you . . . ” should fly out of your pie hole.
You might meet me in your local supermarket on a day when my coffee light is low. Things could end badly.
This post originally appeared on In the Powder Room.
I read this piece on stage in New York City at BlogHer 2015 – watch it on YouTube!
Thank you for reading!