Disclaimer: The following blog is comprised of personal opinion, rather than researched material.
Everyone knows the feeling of being asked a question that is invasive and pries too deeply. Usually, we just brush off the question, politely, and change the subject. These questions are annoying, but they usually don’t mean much.
However, when it comes to adoption, invasive questions aren’t that simple. Many people will feel as if your family is up for discussion and it can be a burden to continuously inform people that your family is not a casual conversation topic.
Know Intentions and Set an Example
This is a tricky subject. It can be difficult to gauge someone’s intentions, especially if you are not close with them. Sometimes people are genuinely curious and don’t know that their question is invasive. Other times, people’s intent is to be cruel or hurtful. Their intent matters when you are deciding how to respond.
Adoptive families will often get asked invasive questions in public settings like the grocery store or library. When you are with your children and are asked an invasive or hurtful question you’ll have to mind that your children are listening.
While it may be tempting to tell the rude person off, your children will likely use your response as an example of how they should handle similar questions. You should anticipate these types of questions, even though people should know better. Have a plan of attack. You have a lot of options when it comes to handling this situation.
Change the Subject
When someone asks an invasive question, changing the subject is one of the best ways to give the person that you’re talking to a hint that their question was insensitive. Changing the subject gives the other person a chance to backtrack without any ill words exchanged. This is a good tactic for those of us who are less confrontational. It is also best used in circumstances where the person may have good intentions, but a lack of knowledge about the proper etiquette when it comes to talking about adoptive families.
Have Ready-made Comebacks
Chances are you may have anticipated someone asking questions that were invasive, especially if you’ve done your research. If not, we’ve done some for you. Check out this article on “Things to Never Say to an Adoptive Parent”. You’ll find great examples of the invasive (and sometimes just plain rude) questions that people ask adoptive parents including:
- “How much did he/she cost?”
- “What happened to your children’s real parents?”
- “Aren’t you able to have children of your own?”
It should be easy for others to see that these questions are not only invasive and hurtful. However, that is not always the case. Sometimes facing a barrage of these questions can feel like going to war. Like any good soldier, you should be prepared with a host of comebacks in your arsenal. These comebacks should be tailored to let the person know their question has overstepped its bounds, is rude or hurtful, and that they should not be asking similar questions under the same circumstances, again.
Be Honest & Call Out Invasive Questions
This is one of the best strategies to avoid having similar conversations with this person. Whether or not this person has good intentions, they need to be educated on what an invasive question is. That means saying things like:
- “That’s an extremely invasive question and I am not going to answer it.”
- “Questions like that are not okay. My family is not up for discussion.”
- “There’s a long list of reasons as to why that question is inappropriate. For one…”
You should feel free to answer invasive questions accordingly. You may be the one who teaches a purposely rude person that their questions will not be tolerated. You may also be the one who helps an overeager person to not make the mistake of asking invasive questions again. Either way, educating people and calling them out on their invasive questions can be a huge help.
Unfortunately, it’s not likely that people will stop asking invasive questions any time soon. That means that you will have to be prepared in the event that it happens to you. Your response will hold a lot of weight, as it can help to stop someone from asking invasive questions to others. Your children may also use your response as an example of how they should react to these types of questions. Despite others’ words, your family is legitimate. You need only look in your children’s faces to know that they are yours, just as much as you are theirs.
For more information on adoption or if you are currently in the process of adopting a baby and have any questions or concerns, feel free to contact, Adoption Choices of Colorado. We can reached via our website or our phones: 303-670-4673(HOPE).
About the Author
Davina grew up in the outskirts of New York City, before eventually moving to Buffalo, New York at the age of 10. Her passion for adoption comes from her own experiences of being in foster care and being an adoptee herself. She hopes to help others to understand the intricacies of adoption and encourage them to consider it as an option.
Davina is a proud Geneseo Knights alum having graduated in 2018. She has been writing for as long as she can remember and chose to pursue a degree in English with hopes of making her hobby a career. Thus far, she has enjoyed her time as an intern for Adoption Choices Inc. and looks forward to a bright future in writing. When she is not writing, she enjoys spending time with her family, building websites, and making lists.
“Things to Never Say to Adoptive Parents” Rachel Robertson. 17 December 2018. http://www.adoptionchoicesofnewyork.org/things-to-never-say-to-an-adoptive-parent/.