How To Answer Off-Handed Questions About Your Adoption Journey.

An Honest Answer From The Heart Of An Adoptive Mom

This is a guest post by our good friend Michele Schneidler, founder of The Refresh Conference in Redmond, Washington. Check out her blog here, or like the Refresh Facebook Page.

It’s a question adoptive parents are asked quite often. Most of the time we can ignore it, dismiss it, or even answer with a measure of grace. But we have to speak up, enlighten, and protect our children when they hear the questions.

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“Is She Adopted?”

It’s a simple question that comes from curious minds of folks who mean no harm. I get it. The problem is, I am asked this question several times a week lately. Sometimes several times a day. In front of my daughter. If it was just you who asked, I wouldn’t be so concerned. But it isn’t. So I thought I’d offer up a little perspective from a concerned adoptive mom of 3.

All of my kids were adopted…

My daughter, who is African American, is not my only adopted child. All three of my kids came to us through adoption and my other two happen to be White. So imagine how my daughter feels when people point at her only and ask if she’s adopted. I just heard an ad on the radio for a “mother daughter look-alike photo contest”. My daughter will hear that ad over and over and over again for the next few weeks. I think I will be changing the radio station until then. We as a society are constantly bombarded with messages that family should look the same. People wonder why transracial families make a big deal about wanting inclusion within their community.

Well, it’s because we are passionately advocating for a positive self-concept in the hearts and minds of our children. We can only hear these messages so much before it begins to take a toll on children who grow up in transracial families. We’re already working hard, folks. These contests aren’t helping. I asked my daughter last night how she felt about people constantly asking me if she’s adopted. Her answer broke my heart. “They make me feel like it’s bad to be adopted.”

All of my kids were adopted…

We don’t make a big deal about this most of the time but I thought I’d just give you a little tip. My kids WERE adopted. It was a legal process we went through years ago in order to make it official. So when you ask about our family, would you mind not asking “IS she adopted?” but rather ask “WAS she adopted?” Asking “Is she adopted?” is like asking “Is she born?” The message to my child changes dramatically with the difference of just one little word.

All of my kids were adopted…

These 3 are my kids. Please don’t ask me any question about my kids that you wouldn’t ask another mom in front of her biological kids. If you persist in asking me too many personal questions, my mama bear might come out and you might be embarrassed in public. Because I’m a good mama and I am passionate about protecting my kids’ dignity. Also, I think it’s much more respectful to ask me if we’re an adoptive family, or ask my child directly if he/she WAS adopted. It’s even more respectful to just get to know us a bit more before asking.

In fact, we celebrate the way our family was designed so I bet within just a few minutes of getting to know us, the topic will come up voluntarily and your questions will be answered in no time! Heck, just watching my daughter wrap her arms around my leg and call me mama should give you the answers you’re looking for.

Yes, she WAS adopted.

Question: Are you an adoptive mom or dad who’s faced questions like this? How have you responded? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

Spots are filling up for The Refresh Conference 2016. We would love to see you there. Don’t wait to get your spot. We know how hard the journey can be when you’re an adoptive or foster parent. But we also know how desperately you need a community of like-minded people. That’s why we believe in this event. It’s life-changing, rejuvenating, and empowering. We almost guarantee that your experience there will be life-changing more than you realize. Trust us, you do not want to miss The Refresh Conference 2016! If you’re ready to pull the trigger and register for this event, it’s open and they’re waiting for your call. Don’t wait. Register today by clicking here!

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  • Here are some of my responses – I tried to be humorous and light hearted, seeing it as a teaching moment but it was hard sometimes, VBG: http://momofmany.net/are-they-all-yours-parenting-tip-28/

  • This gets my ire up, just thinking about how frustrated I feel on a regular basis when faced with intrusive questions like this one. My three children were adopted too. When I was first educated on the difference between asking if a child “is” adopted or “was” adopted, I was very surprised that there was a difference. Now I know that there is a HUGE difference. Asking in the present tense “Is she adopted?” is like asking if her adoption is what defines her. It’s like pointing and asking “What is that?” with the answer “She IS adopted. Or it’s like asking, “Is that who she is, an adopted person?” No, that is not my daughter’s status or definition. She IS my child. How she came into existence is like every other person on this earth. How she came to be in our family is through adoption, like you said, a legal process we went through years ago. She WAS adopted, now she IS my child, plain and simple.

    Another question that drives me crazy is being asked “Are they siblings?” All my children are siblings because they are all mine! When a person has multiple children, the children are siblings of one another. I know that people are really asking “are they biologically related?” But I wish that people would phrase the question correctly or not ask it at all.

    • Sarah, that question always bothers us too!

  • Maria Larramendi

    I have bio twin boys and a third bio (singleton) boy. Our adopted daughter is the same age and in the same grade as our third bio boy. So we really mess people up because they ask, “so you have two sets of twins?” LOL!