Because my boys are members of a visible minority whereas their father and I are not, the fact that our family was created through adoption is always in evidence. We treat adoption as an everyday fact –as natural and as arbitrary as the colours of our eyes — which of course it is, since the practice has existed in human societies for millennia.
But sadly not everyone sees adoption, and particularly inter-ethnic adoption as something both completely wonderful and utterly normal. I have become oblivious to the slightly puzzled looks strangers give us as they try to work out our relationship. The vast majority of people we meet are polite and positive. A few though have been inopportune, presumptuous, or downright derogatory.
At first I got upset about these encounters. But I’ve found the best way to deal with this kind of ignorance is to laugh about it otherwise it will leave me seething for days!
So here are a few of the most I-can’t-believe-you-just-asked-me-that statements I’ve heard and, when I’ve pulled my jaw off the floor in time, my responses:
Couldn’t you have kids of your own?
They are my own.
No, but biologically …?
My uterus thanks you for your concern but it’s just fine.
Aren’t you worried that his mother drank or did drugs?
No. But judging from that remark, I’d be a little concerned about yours.
You just wait, now you’ll get pregnant with one of your own! Wait, you mean I could’ve just made one myself and saved all the paperwork?
(In a supermarket) Where’d you get a Chinese boy*?
(* extra layer of weird: neither of my boys are of Asian descent)
Wow! His dad must be a HUGE football-player or something!
No, actually he’s a slightly vertically-challenged lawyer. Why do you ask?
There’s no way that came out of you.
Why aren’t you breastfeeding?
That’s no excuse! You should take lactation drugs!
Um … Are you on drugs?
Can you get me/my friend/ my cousin’s best-friend’s sister one too?
I can direct you to the agencies I know of?
Oh no, I don’t want to jump through all those hoops.
So you only want to adopt if it’s easy?
Are they REAL brothers?
No, we hire actors.
I really admire what you did. I always tell my husband, if we ever get another dog, we’re going to adopt!
(In my head) WTF!?!
Have you put in for a girl for the next one? Yes, that’s exactly how it works. Just like with pregnancy.
Do you have any OMG stories? I’d love to hear them, and even more about how you handled it!
For a response that doesn’t deflect with humour, sarcasm or further rudeness, this article on the wonderful phrase “I’ll keep that in mind” is a fantastic read.