While sometimes my initial reaction is to scream, "ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!" and storm off in a huff, I have learned slowly but surely, that the best response to any question is to answer the best way I can, in the kindest way possible. Here are a few of the exchanges I have had in the 9 1/2 years since my first adoption...
Maybe these examples will give you ideas of how to respond - or not respond - if you're ever in a similar situation:
- "Are they real sisters?" Yep. This is one I still don't understand. For some reason, when a stranger asks, I'm annoyed to be sure, but not quite as annoyed as when someone who knows us asks. A new neighbor, acquaintance at the elementary school, the familiar checker at the grocery store. My children - especially my adopted daughters - have a deep and sweet bond. Why do some people feel it is their business, or even crucial infomation, to know whether they are biologically related? I have offered many responses over the years, ranging from "Why do you ask?" (which is code for "Why do you care"), to "What do you mean?" (code for "I understand your question, but I am so not in the mood to answer"), and occasionally I want to say, with a very caustic tone, "Seriously? Is that your real hair*?" (*can be easily used with any of these words: nose, choice of dress, diamond, or even...a-hem...'chest') I've even answered with a curt "Yes".
- "How much did she cost?" Not kidding. I've been asked this more than once, too. A good response for that is: "All adoption agencies charge different fees." (I have to admit here, I have an arsenal of very sarcastic, sharp responses, which I try to keep under my lid. I am usually successful...)
- "Why did her mom give her up?" I dislike this one - a lot - but a few responses I've been able to muster (once the shock and awe diminishes) are: "Every birth parent has different reasons when they make an adoption plan." (A good response as it introduces 2 key vocabulary words -- "birth parent" vs. "real mom" and "adoption plan" vs. "give her up")
- "Where's she from? Africa?" Wow. Honestly? It's 2010. Yes, I'm white. She's black. But last time I checked, there were many races being born every day in the good ole US of A. This one I do not even dignify with a witty or clever answer. I usually say something along the lines of "She was born at Cottonwood Hospital, just like all my children were." or "She's from right here - Holladay!" If it's someone with a genuine question who doesn't mean to sound like an idiot, I will say, "She's from here. Her birthmother lives in Georgia." This is one question, however, where the sarcastic responses are almost too much for me to restrain. I am waiting and wondering who the lucky person will be that is the recipient of my unrestrained string of verbal barbs loosely cloaked as an answer to the question.
- "How long have you had her?" or "When did you get her?" Do they want me to say something like "Oh, it's been about 2 hours now." or "We got her while on vacation last year." Really?! But again, that deep cleansing breath works wonders in calming my natural tendency toward sarcasm, and I say simply, "At birth". The end. Not a lot more to say after that, huh?