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10 Things Not to Say to Adoptive Parents: Is it difficult to love a child who isn’t your own?

Especially in front of their kids

By Tracy Hahn-Burkett |

Author Tracy Hahn-Burkett has a four-year-old daughter adopted from Korea and a seven-year-old biological son. Whether well-intentioned, curious or inappropriate, Hahn-Burkett has had many a question lobbied in her direction regarding her daughter and their family make-up. Hahn-Burkett offers you, the curious, some advice before you speak. Along with ten questions one should not ask an adoptive parent, she gives her blunt responses.

Is it difficult to love a child who isn’t your own?

My children are my ownboth of them. Yes, I know what you mean. And I repeat: both of my children are “my own.”

I could never love someone who doesn’t share my biology.

I’m sorry your heart is so limited. And presumably your spouse doesn’t share your biology, so I’m sorry for him or her, too.

She/he’s so lucky.

If there are adoptive parents who haven’t heard this one, I don’t know them. Yes, my adopted child is lucky, just like her brother who was born to mejust like any kid blessed with a good family. Moreover, my husband and I are lucky to have her as a daughter. My daughter is not lucky, however, by virtue of having been adopted or because she’s been adopted by an American family. Her life story will always be one that begins with wrenching loss of family, country, language, culture and all things related to the place and people from whence she came. She will have to figure out how to incorporate all of this into her identity at some point, no matter how much we love her.

That’s great you’re adopting;
it’s so much easier than having the child yourself.

Clearly, you have never adopted a child. What, exactly, is easy about it? Is it the hundreds of questions prospective adoptive parents have to answer along the path to adoption, questions that go to the heart of what kind of people they are and dissect every aspect of their lives? Is it committing to a lifetime of knowing that at anytime from toddlerhood through adulthood, your child may come to you with wrenching questions about his or her origins and your answers may be unsatisfactory? Is it knowing that the very fact that your child is yours means that somewhere a woman will probably grieve every day of her life for the child she could not raise? Is it missing the early months, sometimes years, of your child’s life? Is it telling your child when he or she asks to see baby pictures, “Sorry, I don’t have any”? I could go on, but you get the point.

She’s so adorable; she’s just like a little China doll!

Yes, thank you, I think she’s cute, too. But she is not Chinese and she’s a human being, so please don’t characterize her as an inanimate stereotype. And if you’re going to gush and coo over her, please consider that blond-haired, blue-eyed boy standing right next to her. He’s my kid, too. He’s pretty cute, too. And he can hear you.

Her “real” mother was probably a prostitute.

I’m her “real” mother, and so far as I can recall, I have never been a prostitute.

What kind of a person would give up such a beautiful, sweet child? (This comment is often accompanied by a clucking of the tongue.)

In general, the kind of person whose options are limited in ways you have never even had to imagine. Birthmothers are not bad, immoral people. Very few, if any, birthmothers who relinquish their children do so lightly. For most, it is a searing, heartbreaking decision that will haunt them forever. Also, please understand that when you say things about my child’s birthmother, you are commenting about the woman who gave my daughter life and whose genes remain an inseparable part of her forever.

People who adopt children from other countries just don’t want black babies, or People who adopt children from other countries just want an “exotic” child, or People who adopt children from other countries are shirking their responsibility to adopt at home.

Very few parents who choose international adoption do so because they don’t like “dark” kids or because they want an “exotic” child. The systems of international and domestic adoption differ in fundamental ways, and most parents who choose to adopt educate themselves thoroughly and then pick the program that is best for them.

Anything in Chinese addressed to the Asian adopted child.

This happened to me when my daughter was a year old. A woman in an elevator said something to my daughter in Chinese, and by the time I figured out what had just taken place, the woman was gone (thereby robbing me of my opportunity to deliver any sort of snarky reply). My daughter is American, has lived in this country since infancy, and the language she understands is English. Why would you assume anything else?

How much did she cost?

Another one we’ve all heard, generally more than once. But my child is not a melon; I did not pick her up at the store. She cost me nothing. I did, however, spend quite a bit on adoption fees to support the process and travel costs, just as I spent quite a bit on medical care, etc., in conjunction with the conception and birth of my biological son. If you truly want to learn more about the financial aspect of either process, I will be happy to discuss that with you. If you’re only interested in knowing in order to pass judgment, it’s none of your business.

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About Tracy Hahn-Burkett

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Tracy Hahn-Burkett

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60 thoughts on “10 Things Not to Say to Adoptive Parents: Is it difficult to love a child who isn’t your own?

  1. lulusmom says:

    I am an adoptive mother as well and have heard just about all of these questions. I hate when people are pushy with there questions. My husband and I are both Italian we have dark skin, hair, he has brown eyes and I have green eyes while my daughter could not be more fair skinned and has white blonde hair and the bluest eyes. Random people always ask us where she got her blonde hair and blue eyes. So now my husband responds by telling them he is not quite sure, that I tend to sleep around a lot and his best guess is the mail man. Then I simply shrug and nod in agreement. Generally there are no follow up questions.

  2. PlumbLucky says:

    Sadly proving yet still, that people can be idiots and bumbling fools. And lulusmom, I think we may adopt that line. Our munchkin is a blue-eyed towhead. Okay, neither of us is very dark…we both look English/Irish with a smattering of a few other obvious nationalities…I’m a green-eyed redhead and my hubby’s a dishwater blonde with grey eyes. And yet nearly everyday we get “where’d the blonde come from?” from random strangers…

  3. Jellyo says:

    Oh, the oppressed blond people…. 
    That lady in the elevator may have thought you were babysitting.  Why would you be so hell-bent on responding with a snarky comment.  No real American speaks Chinese?  Is that what you are trying to say?  Everyone should assume that all real Americans speak nothing but English?

  4. lawyermama says:

    I agree that some of these questions are rude or inappropriate, but aren’t some of them inartful ways of expressing interest in you and your children? What happened to cutting people some slack? I’m sure most of us strive to be tactful and respectful, but sometimes we miss. And if you’re trying to challenge peoples’ assumptions about adoption, I’m not sure being snarky and/or rude is the way to change or enlighten minds.
    I do get how annoying it is to hear the same rude/clueless thing over and over. I’m a lawyer, and friends and family members think it’s perfectly fine to tell me lawyer jokes (“What do you call 10 dead lawyers? A good start.”), as if I will totally find the humor in a joke that calls for my death because of my profession. That doesn’t mean I call them out on it every time, because it would make me the annoying one if I’m on my soapbox all the time.

  5. Momtosparkles says:

    I’m horrified by the things people have said to you, and I feel bad for all adoptive parents that, along with all the other challenges they face that I will never fully understand, also have to deal with insensitive or even mean spirited questions like this.
    And in terms of kids not looking like their parents… we have a brilliantly pale, platinum blond child. He practically sparkles with whiteness. My husband and I, the biological parents, are ordinary looking caucasians, both with mousy brown hair. We do actually get asked if he is “ours.” I usually laugh it off (my husband’s baby pictures clearly prove to me that this is a genetic quirk that runs in the family, and my son will likely grow out of it) but I cannot imagine how MORE annoying it would be if he in fact was not our biological child. C’mon people!

  6. Jessie says:

    I think a good rule of thumb is to not ask anyone you don’t know intimately any questions about their adopted child, or make any comments about said child, that wouldn’t pass your lips about a biological child. And, I wish this went without saying, if you really can’t control yourself, please at least keep your mouth shut in front of the kids.

  7. Janie says:

    I am an adoptive parent, and my sons are also from Korea. I think you need to get a grip and stop being so angry and snarky.

  8. j140 says:

    I understand being upset about some of these, but I think people are usually trying to say something nice. I’d cut them some slack too. The “How much” question is rude, but it really is surprising to hear about the process and cost if you don’t know. The “so lucky” comment – once again, just someone trying to be nice and say something positive.

  9. Swank77 says:

    Adoption runs in my family and I am a blond haired blue eyed American who is 2/3′s Scandinavian and 1/3 Korean. Just be thankful you did not adopt back in the days when you got to hear, “What a cute little gook, chink, etc!” I was just curious how you knew that woman spoke to your child in Chinese and not another language? That aspect does not end as you get older. I was at a Vietnamese restaurant with my Korean born, American adopted friend who actually only speaks English and Spanish. Our waitress spoke to her in what I assumed was Vietnamese and my friend answered her in Spanish. That was odd on so many levels (starting with, a Vietnamese woman may not recognize that another Asian person is not Vietnamese). I think it has more to do with ethnic comradery than anything else in our American world. God rest my grandmother, but I am glad she can no longer say, “These are “Susan’s” two girls and her two adopted girls.” Because we always were just four sisters.

  10. Carrie007 says:

    I completely agree with lawyermama – most of these are just badly phrased questions of genuine interest. Maybe it would be better to use these as opportunities to share and educate rather than to make people feel bad.

  11. Bec says:

    I’m thinking this is another case of commenters knee-jerking in response to some exaggeration.  These are the thoughts she is undoubtedly thinking, although not necessarily saying… but sometimes it becomes important to say it, to show your children that you do not agree with or approve of the comments made right in front of them.  They’re listening.  Hearing these things can hurt.
    As for the “why can’t you just be informative” voices… did you even read the title of the article?  10 Things Not to Say to Adoptive Parents – especially in front of their kids
    The whole article’s point is to be that information, and to tackle it in a way that is kind of funny.  That’s sort of the Babble mandate, isn’t it?  I read this thinking the point was for non-adoptive parents to read it and realise how or why certain comments aren’t as innocuous as they thought, while adoptive parents would be nodding in agreement. 

  12. Grateful says:

    Okay, it is true that the point of the article is to point out the things that should not be said in front of adopted kids….but the whole snotty, defensive tone is not just for fun on Babble….I have heard people respond this way so many times. People can be very defensive about all this information and how their family was formed. I am both a birth mother (gave a child up for adoption as a teen) and an adoptive mother of a child from Guatemala. Even when someone asks me a stupid question or makes an ignorant comment, if it is in front of my child, I am role modeling and teaching. It would be great if the ignorant person “learns” something from my response, but more importantly, I want my child to learn from it. He can learn his worth and value in my life and in the world as we see it, but he is also learning that Mommy is not defensive and snippy at people who are ignorant. He is also learning that there are many people in the world who judge and have opinions, and that he will have to face this. I think our role is to prepare our children for this, not try to protect them from it.

  13. leahsmom says:

    Thanks for this.  I don’t have exactly the same reactions you do – or other commenters – but the “real” family comments are still hurtful and angering, no matter how I work to overcome those feelings and educate the commenters.

  14. VietnaMom says:

    Insightful, thank you.  And pretty clever responses. 
    However, the lady in the elevator?  Maybe *she* didn’t speak english very well, and was complimenting your kid.  I’m 1/2 white & 1/2 Vietnamese, and my Vietnamese relatives speak Vietnamese to my son (who’s white, Vietnames, and black) all the time.  It’s usually to the effect of, “Awww, you’re so cute; such a cutie wooty cutie pie; make sure you respect your mum…”  Get my point?

  15. MHR says:

    I’m a young teen adopted from China when I was six months old. Some of these comments don’t actually annoy me, and I understand Chinese fairly well. However, the worst comment I have probably gotten was during class, when one of my class mates called out (in the middle of a discussion over who knows what) “Well, why don’t you do get a kid from China; they’re real cheap over there!”

  16. anon says:

    As an adoptive parent, I’m mostly pretty happy when people ask me questions. Even if they bumble it. You can do a lot of good in the world by being patient and friendly. Sure, your kids can hear the comments. But the world is always going to be filled with comments that can be a bit insensitive. Aren’t they a lot better off also hearing a well-thought-out answer from you?

  17. queenie says:

    Thank you for giving a voice to the frustrations we adoptive parents often experience. I’ve often had to bite my tongue when questions like these have been lobbed at me. I’m sorry if some of the commenters are offended by the tone of the piece, but as the poster above noted, these aren’t necessarily the actual responses she gave people. The author is venting. She’s not the only one. Please read it again, and learn from it.

  18. adoption says:

    @MHR: Well said. I completely agree that the author should set a good example for her children and NOT respond so rudely to comments that are most likely coming from well-meaning, if not misinformed people. And re: the lady in the elevator incident…Your child might have been raised in the US since infancy, but she is a Korean-American. And for that I truly hope you expose her to her Korean culture.

  19. adoption says:

    sorry, I mean to refer to the post by @anon

  20. Ali says:

    I am an adoptive and biological parent and some of my children are Asian. When anyone asks a quesiton about my children I see it as an opportunity to educate them. Many people do not know you dont have to pay for the child. Many are just ignorant of the process. Some of just curious. Being snarky and condescending is elitist and rude. People like this author make international adoption harder for the rest of us. It is up to us to help open peoples eyes and hearts not build bigger walls.

  21. Emmet says:

    My biological sister and I look very different, and I used to hear all manner of rude comments about it. Sometimes strangers even asked if I was “sure” we had the same father! I also had a friend growing up who’s parents were an interracial couple, and it drove her crazy that strangers would ask if she was adopted when she was out with her mom.
    I never assume, and I never comment when kids look different from their parents, there are too many chances to stick my foot in my mouth.

  22. Jane Roper says:

    I highly doubt that the author actually responds this way to people who ask the questions. This not a journal entry; it’s is a piece of writing, with a structure and voice chosen for rhetorical effect to air legitimate frustrations. Because let’s face it: even the most well-meaning comments can wear you down when you hear them over and over again. Hey — we’re all human. I applaud the writer’s honesty.

  23. anon says:

    I think the commenters may have gotten the idea that these are things the author actually tries to say when they read #9: “A woman in an elevator said something to my daughter in Chinese, and by the time I figured out what had just taken place, the woman was gone (thereby robbing me of my opportunity to deliver any sort of snarky reply).” The implication of writing this is that when these things happen the author DOES try to deliver a snarky reply. I enjoy snark as much as anybody, but not in this situation. Unless you’re hoping to teach your kids to be snarky smart a$$es to well meaning strangers.

  24. kayas Mama says:

    My daughter’s father is Thai and I am very obviously Caucasian. My daughter looks much more like him than me and I regularly get questions like “How long have you had her?” and “What country is she from?” from people who assume that I have adopted. `it surprises me that in 2009 there are still people who wouldn’t even think to consider that my husband may be Asian but it doesn’t anger me. Anyone who starts a conversation about my child is obviously just trying to show interest. I can see being offended by things like being accused of not adopting domestically because you don’t want a black baby, because it’s an unfounded accusation. But, a snarky remark because a woman spoke to your child in their native language is ridiculous. If anything, you should encourage your child to learn about and be exposed to her culture.

  25. anon says:

    When someone says something like “s/he’s so lucky,” they are trying to be nice and express interest in and admiration for the fact that you adopted your child.  The condescension and snark, whether you say it out loud or just “think” it (though typing it out in a Babble article is hardly keeping a thought to yourself) is just rude.  If you just need to vent, call a good friend or start a journal–don’t put something like this out there that makes all adoptive parents look like elitist jerks with short tempers.    

  26. Adult ADoptee says:

    As an adult adoptee, I would also add: “Where did you get your baby from?”

  27. Respect says:

    My new rule when dealing with fellow parents: never assume anything. Just because a child doesn’t look like his or her parents, don’t assume he/she is adopted. Likewise, don’t assume a child who looks like his or her parents wasn’t adopted — or conceived via a sperm or egg donor. There are so many different ways to form families nowadays that it’s counterproductive to draw conclusions based on superficial “evidence.”
    Also, I find people are much more quick to ask personal questions of adoptive parents. You wouldn’t go around asking a bio parent — how did you conceive your child?

  28. anon says:

    @jane roper: All that stuff about “voice” and “rhetoric” – you mean the author is lying?@author: if your daughter ever has a younger sibling, she’ll have her chance to be ignored while people slobber over your baby. That’s got nothing to do with adoption, and everything to do with being little.

  29. footinmouthmom says:

    Thank you for the insight – I am embarrassed to say that I said #3 to a friend without thinking about it – so ignorant – but now I have an opportunity to apologize!

  30. puasamanda says:

    I am astounded at the continuous negative comments about this piece…wow! How about it isn’t the author’s job nor anyone else’s to “suffer fools gladly?” I can’t believe that so few people seem to see that the questions are RUDE. That is the point. They are RUDE…and yet the majority of people seem willing to jump all over the author as though it is somehow part of her social responsibility to make excuses for/enlighten/educate the masses, just because she completed her family through adoption. It isn’t.
    If the subject is opened up by the parent or child involved in the adoption triad, then by all means, fire away. We expect most people to be a bit ignorant about it, and we can deal. But if you are just asking deeply personal questions out of the blue, and are being ignorant to the fact that adoption is often laden with intense emotions for the people involved…I say let the answerer “snark” to her heart’s content.

  31. adoptive mom says:

    I’m going to disagree with you that most of these comments are rude. She’s so lucky? Speaking to an Asian child in Chinese? I’d say those are pretty sweet gestures that maybe are a tad clueless, and don’t deserve an angry rant. Whether you can love someone who shares your biology? It’s an interesting question, one that’s pondered by lots of people who are themselves considering adoption, and which you could respond to anecdotally or scientifically (There has been quite a bit of interesting literature on the biological responses between adoptive moms and kids, much of it focusing on the mounting levels of the bonding hormone oxytocin in their bloodstreams as their relationship deepens.)When people refer to my child’s “real mother,” they usually blush and correct themselves instantly. I don’t feel the need to punish them, because I know and appreciate what they are trying to say. My daughter does have another mother. Her first mother. Because we have an open adoption, she will know her first mother and get to ask her all the questions she wants. Nobody’s ever referred to her first mother as a prostitute – frankly, I doubt someone that hateful and crazy is going to be reading Babble. If our adoption had been an international closed adoption, I’d be more worried about non-crazy people bringing up things like this: http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-china-adopt20-2009sep20,0,491086.story. And just because that’s a hard issue for adoptive families to confront doesn’t make it rude (bringing it up in front of a child would probably qualify, though.) It’s nobody’s “job” to help other people learn about adoption (AKA suffer fools gladly). It just makes the world a better place. That’s all.

  32. KayJay says:

    Although I think the author is overreacting to some situations, I do agree many of these comments are just plain rude! In aforementioned posts, it was said that there were many boundless ways to “form families” nowadays and just going on outward characteristics was a flawed method. Apparently, some people don’t remember high school biology.
    When it comes down to it, everybody wants to protect their kids. Some parents have kids with outwardly-obvious special needs, I and many others have multiples. We’ve all had the stares and obtrusive questions, and we all get defensive. Because it’s our kids. Whether it’s snark or an abbreviated lecture on adoption, the reaction is there, and it’s perfectly natural.

  33. Jane Roper says:

    @anon who @-ed me, I mean she’s exaggerating for effect.

  34. anon says:

    How ironic that you’d praise her for her honesty.

  35. Jane Roper says:

    Anon, if someone says to you, “My job is killing me,” does that mean that their job is actually, literally killing them? Probably not (unless they’re, like, a coal miner.) They are exaggerating in order to express the fact that they are painfully unhappy. Would you say that they are being dishonest?
    I think the author here used a snippy/snarky approach in her hypothetica replies in this article to express the fact that when you get the same questions over and over again, some of them outright rude, it can wear you down and be very frustrating. That said, I can certainly see how this approach might rub some people (yourself, for example) the wrong way.

  36. Chickie says:

    As an adoptive parent, I have heard some of these remarks (and similar ones) as well (admittedly, the “lucky” one irks me terribly) but I agree with many people here, some of these you need to have a little more perpective on.#5 has nothing to do with ethnic background, they are saying she looks like a beautiful little porcelin doll….do you really think “china” in that comment means Chinese?

  37. Anonymous says:

    OMG!! I think the author is a little harsh on some of the answers. I think a lot of people are very rude but there are other people that are curious and ignorant of what an adoption is and how does that affect a family, etc. I am planning to adopt in the future and expect does questions the same way people ask questions to my Caucasian husband about his half Hispanic (who looks more like me than him) son and daughter. People assume some things out of ignorance so I give them the benefit of the doubt before I bark at them :)

  38. laletterata says:

    The one problem I see with these is that they are not universal to people who adopt domestically. We are adopting through the foster care system and would LOVE to see this article written for ALL adoptive parents– not just people who adopt from overseas.

  39. haomom says:

    I loved this piece! obviously it’s an article, the writer is not giving these responses verbatim to the individual (s) making the comment..
    It is tedious to get the China doll comment day after day after day…My daughter is not a doll and does anyone realize what the term “China doll” used to mean?
    I don’t like the comments about cost, it’s tacky…and in front of the child, even worse..
    I have received so many inappropriate comments over time ,that after a while, it doesn’t matter if they are well meaning..
    so i loved this piece.

    and of course I hate it when people say, oh you have your own child, meaning that somehow my biological son is somehow more of my child than my daughter, who is adopted.
    thanks babble, good article!

  40. jeanmari says:

    But, a snarky remark because a woman spoke to your child in their native language is ridiculous.

    I just have to respond to this comment. Why should anyone assume that a child with Asian features in the United States has any “native” language? My ancestors were French Hugenots, my husband’s were from Sweden, does anyone speak to us in French or Swedish? I have many ethnically-Chinese friends who were not adopted and born in the United States! And I think this is at the heart of what the author is saying: Never assume and, if you do make assumptions, please keep them to yourself and do not project them onto someone else’s child. Do you mean well? Most of the time, I’m sure you do. But you won’t be unintentionally hurtful if you consider these other perspectives on adoption.

  41. jeanmari says:

    “But, a snarky remark because a woman spoke to your child in their native language is ridiculous.”——–

    I just have to respond to this comment. Why should anyone assume that a child with Asian features in the United States has any “native” language? My ancestors were French Hugenots, my husband’s were from Sweden, does anyone speak to us in French or Swedish? I have many ethnically-Chinese (also ethically-Korean and ethnically-Vietnamese) friends who were not adopted and they were born in the United States! And I think this is at the heart of what the author is saying: Never assume and, if you do make assumptions, please keep them to yourself and do not project them onto someone else’s child. Do you mean well? Most of the time, I’m sure you do. But you won’t be unintentionally hurtful if you consider these other perspectives on adoption.

  42. immigrant says:

    I think that a number of those points of anger are ridiculous and mirror an adoptive mother who deliberately *wants* to misunderstand good intentions and/or is happiest when she can feel like a victim.

    Just take #3:

    Somebody is saying that you daughter’s so lucky to have you as a mother/family. That is nothing but a very sweet compliment to you as a mother or to your family. If this person had directed the very same remark at your blond-haired, blue-eyed biological son (and I am sure that the very same remark HAS been directed at your son after he had “joined” your family…), would you have reacted equally offended? I am putting five bucks on this answer: No, you wouldn’t have. Instead, you would have bathed in the compliment.

    Or look at #5:

    People remark that babies/toddlers/girls look like cute little dolls essentially ALL the time, and when they say this, they want to express their admiration for the child’s cuteness. Again, would you have been offended by a remark that your biological daughter looks as cute as a porcelain doll? Most definitely not. Again, stop choosing to feel victimized.

    And as for #9:
    I am a U.S. immigrant (not adopted…), and I keep being appalled by parents who are ignorant enough to deny their bi-national children a bi-lingual upbringing but selfishly insist on teaching them English only. If you want your daughter to have it easier to incorporate their cultural background into their life, you should allow her to learn her other mother language as well, thereby enabling her to understand her roots. Somebody speaking to her in (what seems to be) one of her mother languages is actually NOT ignorant, quite the opposite. teaching a bi-national child only one language, however, is plenty ignorant in my book.

  43. A Mom says:

    My daughter was born in India and I’ve had people ask me “Are you sure she’s full Indian, she doesn’t look Indian.” I usually tell them that India is a large and diverse place and that there is no one “Indian look.” Nonetheless, what a weird thing to say. People have all sorts of weird things to say and I’ve had every single one of the comments in the article said to me about my child.

  44. JLT says:

    Some people will say/ask the darndest things!
    I appreciate just reading the various opinions and considering all aspects of the issue.

  45. Sandy Van Vlymen says:

    Perhaps you don’t hear the one I always heard, “She looks just like you.” She didn’t, but people felt they had to say that.

  46. caireland says:

    Are she and her sister real sisters?

  47. Anonymous says:

    We have heard, “Does they have the same father/mother?” When seeing our 2 bio kids and adopted son from China.

  48. Heather Lambert says:

    my 6 month old is american, and not adopted and everyone says “aw she looks like a doll” and its a compliment. why would that offend someone?

  49. Anonymous says:

    My most sincere thanks to the author for this one. I’ve lost count of how many well meaning folks have told me how lucky my children are. Having adopted through the foster care system, they have no clue how difficult my children’s lives were or what they suffered before coming to us. My husband & I are the lucky ones.
    I find the most disturbing comments ofen come from people who should know better, like the school nurse who asked me if my son called me “Mom”, after seeing the decree of adoption I had to submit in leiu of a lost birth certificate (a common problem for children from foster care).
    I also get a lot of comments along the lines of “wow, with their hair/eye/ skin color, you’d never know they weren’t really yours!” I so want to shout that they ARE absolutely mine, duh?!?? So thank you for sharing this article & experience. I promptly posted on my FB wall in an effort to educate intelligent folks about some of the really stupid things they say!

  50. A M says:

    I’m blown away that people ask #6. Geez. Why, should one know that were true, would one wish to discuss that with strangers? With the kid there?

    I don’t really understand why so many of the comments slam the author so hard; she’s getting these comments in front of her child. Part of her reaction is a result of trying to protect her daughter’s self-image. Who wouldn’t be a little sensitive over their kid hearing and processing a stranger butting into their child’s perception of self?

  51. A M says:

    Also, when I was an exchange student in France 15 years ago, my friend, a Chinese-American with admittedly beautiful skin, nearly lost it in a restaurant when one of the other American students said “You’ve got such a great complexion- you’re like a China doll!” To calm her explosive reaction, the pretty clueless girl said to my friend “No, no I mean your skin is perfect- you’re like a GEISHA!”

    That didn’t help. There’s nothing like a white girl telling an Asian one that she looks like a geisha. My point is though, if it illicited that sort of response from an adult, imagine how damaging that would be to a child. Nobody thinks that person was talking about porcelain.

  52. Observer says:

    The next time someone says “her real mother was probably a prostitute” just say the following; “Hey at least her biological mom didn’t abort her.”

    That alone is grounds for respect for the bio-mom.

  53. VHM says:

    Again, always from the viewpoint of the adoptive parent.

    Ask adult adoptees, including trans-racial and internationally adoptees, what they think. The real answers will surprise you.

  54. fosterparent says:

    Well if you want to get technical and whine about it, why didn’t you say ‘international adoptive parents’?? As to generalize that adoptive parents all deal with similar issues. Which is in fact NOT true. We’re adopting children from America. So when families like ours search for adoption information and find articles like this, that are completely irrelivant to our experience it is also frustrating. It must be because you only see the situation from your shoes, from your experiences. I am just as offended by your tunnel vision regarding adoption issues with international adoptions and ignorance to domestic adoptive parents and issues as you are with those who aren’t understanding of your situation.

  55. Scarlett says:

    The reply about your chinese daughter not being chinese.. I disagree. I think if you adopt internationally it is your responsibility as your childs parent to keep the culture alive, and I get angry with the parents that fail to do so.

  56. AGENCY14 says:

    Oh, you missed some of my favorites as it applies to international adoption: Where’d you get him? What is he? So much ignorance, and so many opportunities to educate…or smack someone. My mother was adopted, as was my sister and multiple cousins, all inter country. So while the international-specific questions aren’t all applicable to adoptive families in general, the “lucky” one in particular hit a nerve for me. I left a physician who was intent on explaining to me how grateful my sister should be to us for saving her, and wondering if she ever said thank you. So offensive, so wrong!

  57. MARYANN says:

    my husband and i are the parents of an adopted beautiful, now grown young woman.the most wonderful experience of our lives! one of the worst questions was WHAT DO YOU KNOW ABOUT HER REAL PARENTS!? are you kidding me i would say, do you see someone else up all nite,when she is sick and kissing boo boos! we are her real parents! congratulations to all of you out there who have had a lifetime to share with your little blessingno matter what part of the world he/she comes from. i still call mine my princess and she is 25…..

  58. incredible says:

    Did you really just recycle this post and slap a recent date on it? Jeez…

  59. Observer says:

    I don’t know if you’ll ever read this comment, but about number 9, was she old? or maybe she doesn’t speak english? a lot of old people will say whatever in their language whether you understand it or not. It was probably baby talk anyways, so why do you get so offended about it?

  60. Yvette Laureano-Kelly says:

    Unable to have children we decided to adopt. Our son who is bi-racial (black/mexican) was adopted at the age of 2 mo. old, he is 16 now. We adopted our second son when he was 2 weeks old, he’s Guatemalan. Im Puerto Rican, I have olive skin and wavey hair brown hair. My husband is white (Irish/Dutch). I have had ppl ask me are these your children?? Is one from a black father and the other from a spanish father??!! Needless to say its hurtful and many times I am taken off guard. Others who know they are adopted say “aww sorry”, or but ur not the “real mom”??!! Seriously are you kidding me and sorry for what?? People need to STOP being rude, unsensitive and close minded. Our family is a happy we all look different however we ALL love just the way it is.

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