Curiosity About Adoption Choices

When you adopt, you make choices.

20150121 - Curiosity About Adoption Choices

First you chose what type / where you will adopt from.

Then you choose what agencies to work with.

Then you have to make choices on things like:

  • Race
  • Birth mother/father history – criminal, prostitution, mental health, etc.
  • Birth defects
  • Premature birth
  • Multiple births
  • Substance Abuse

The choices are awkward and at times heartbreaking, but absolutely necessary. In our experience, once non-adoptive people learn that you have to make choices, they want to know all the details about the precise selections. People ask things like:

  • What races did you choose? / Could your baby be black/yellow/pink/purple?
  • Will your adopted child have as bad of a temper as X’s adopted child?
  • Will your child have fetal alcohol syndrome?
  • Will you know their family medical history?

Guess what, this is no-ones business! I don’t ask my girlfriends when they get married if they are okay with their choice of husband because his skin colour will dictate the colour of their children. I don’t ask people if they know their family medical history on all sides, as to know if they or their children may get breast cancer one day. And, I sure as heck don’t ask people if they indulged in a few glasses of wine before they knew they were pregnant. These questions are so not appropriate in normal circumstances, and they are absolutely not appropriate in adoption circumstances.

That said, I realize that these questions are mostly coming from a place of interest and a lack of awareness. Which of course means we have to educate people and at the same time we need to be polite about it. So, we say things like:

Our child may be of a different race, but our precise selections are private.

Our child is just like every other child and may have temper tantrums from time to time.  Adoption does not cause children to misbehave, a number of factors including individual personalities and poor parenting cause misbehaviour.

Our child’s detailed medical history is private, just as your detailed medical history is private.

By being honest and open, we hope to educate people about adoption and at the same time we hope set boundaries about what is acceptable discussion in the MPB household.

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32 Comments on “Curiosity About Adoption Choices

  1. It’s a lot. I was always curious about how and why people made the decisions they did. Thankfully, there are tons of blogs like yours to shed some light on the decision-making process!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. We have had this conversation as an option. We even discussed with MIL about the possibility of a different race. Response was “why would you want one of those”. Not out of racism, just not understanding. My response was “because maybe that’s what God will give us” and left it at that. Then at holiday some very racial comments were made from other members (not directly about the situation, as it has noy been discussed with anyone else). This pretty much told us how it would be received. People tend to get way too nosey over personal decisions in infertile road to parenthood. I wish you luck and understanding and patience from those who matter in your life.

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    • Thank you for sharing your experience – i hear on the race stuff. It’s been very interesting watching people’s reaction when we answer that question.
      Wishing you the best as well.

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  3. This is such a tricky one, I understand what you mean. People are probably just interested, like you say, and they don’t realise how personal these questions are. Definitely a good idea to set some boundaries as you say, saves on lots of upset all round! xx

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    • It is definitely tricky, but ultimately we think it’s our child’s decision to one day share whatever they are comfortable with, so we will respect their privacy until they are old enough to understand and make the decision on their own. (That’s actually why I have never posted on here what we did select, rather I just shared the process we went through to make our selections).
      We do love to set boundaries! It seems to keep us sane. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Nicely said! And some very good points. I never understand why people feel that a child who misbehaves often is a direct result of their genes…I feel like so many people today are simply lazy parents, or indulge their kids too much and don’t have any sort of discipline. When my sister and I were little, had we done/said most of the stuff that I see kids do these days, we would have been beaten!! And I say that not because we ever were beaten, but because we simply knew better than to act like brats!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I hear you on this point! I know if I behaved the way some children do, it simply would not have been tolerated. I know it’s easy to pass judgement, particularly as we aren’t parents, but honestly, my parents raised us to be respectful so it can be done.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I think if you’re a very private person that it’s good to set these boundaries early and with a healthy dose of diplomacy because, you’re right, it’s coming from a naive curiosity. I think the mellower you are in explaining things (within your own comfort level) the more you will normalize the adoption of your child for the family and friends around you. This is part of the reason why I have been a pretty open book about treatment – it sets everyone at ease, makes it less weird, when they can ask questions and not have them met with defensiveness. I read in another post that you have professional experience negotiating these kinds of difficult conversations, so I have full confidence that you will navigate these waters gracefully and create a healthy climate for the child you’re welcoming into your lives.

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    • I love your perspective here – thank you for sharing so eloquently. We are very open about everything, and use any opportunity to share things with those who ask. But, we have set boundaries around a few things such as our child’s medical records because that’s not ours to share and we want to respect our child’s privacy. One day, when the child is old enough, they can make the decision what they want to share with who.

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  6. Something that came into my mind last week (and this post reminded me of it) was that you are very good at clearly laying out the adoption process. I was wondering if this is may be a direction that you might explore in your hunt for a new career: adoption consultant or something, guiding/mentoring people through the process? I don’t know it there is already a role in place, but it sounds like once you’ve been through the process, you are in a much better place to assist others through it. I’m sure people would pay to have some support through the process. As for other people’s curiousity, I like the responses that you have laid out. I don’t think people mean to be intrusive, they just put their selfish curiousity before their manners.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I have thought about this myself. There is clearly a need for support through the international systems – every single country is different and the processes can be very overwhelming. Maybe one day, like when we have actually succeeded in navigating our own adoption) this is something I will look at more seriously but for now, I just want to get through it myself. 🙂
      And I agree, people don’t mean to be intrusive, they are truly just curious. For most people we know, we are the first ones to adopt. So, when our friends and family are asking a lot of questions, I always say ask away, I’ll answer anything unless I don’t feel it’s appropriate and then I’ll tel you why. So far, people seem to appreciate my candor.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I think that’s a great way to handle it. I hope the process happens quickly for you. Can’t wait to hear about the next step.

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  7. You are SO good with setting boundaries. I am AWFUL at it. I was just talking to some girls at work yesterday about how I can’t keep a secret to save my life. I would have told everyone everything before it occurred to me that maybe our future child wouldn’t want me to share some of it. I second what mamaetmaman said above… perhaps this could turn into a career path for you. You really have your head on your shoulders about everything despite this being a very emotionally charged process.

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    • It takes a lot of work for me to set boundaries, I too love to talk! But, somehow when it comes to respecting my child’s privacy, we are getting good at doing it respectfully.
      And thank you, maybe one day there is some sort of job to be had in this field. I think it’s absolutely something worth considering. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  8. You are the boundary queen! I love it! Have you ever considered making an adoption consideration checklist? I swear one day you will have an entire kit for people starting out on their adoption journeys.

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    • I have been working on an adoption consideration checklist of sorts! You read my mind. 🙂
      An international adoption kit sounds like a wonderful idea. And why not share all my knowledge.

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  9. I was privileged to adopt my first son in the seventies. I know that is a long time ago, but at that time we were told that it could be a ten year wait. When you are starting the process it is difficult and stressful. If you tell people that you are adopting, they have so many questions. They can be rude. Thank you for having this blog to help people understand from the adopting parents side. What a wonderful experience it is! ❤️

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    • Thank you so very much for sharing your experience and your encouragement! You are right,t he process is difficult, stressful and at times slow. I do hope that we are able to be respectably educate people about adoption. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  10. I am baffled at why some people think it would be even close to appropriate to ask such personal questions. But as you stated, it’s likely due to curiosity. However, there are much more tactful ways and appropriate ways to ask SOME (certainly not ALL) questions, especially if one is interested in adoption. But, education is key and I am glad you are not offended and using this as an opportunity to educate. XO

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    • Oh, thanks so much for your encouragement. We sure do hope that we can educate respectfully. Every now and again with really rude questions I have to take a deep breath and remind myself to calmly respond. 🙂

      Like

  11. Woah, that’s a lot of decisions. Every boy on both sides of my family has had blonde hair and blue eyes for generations so my half Asian son was a little bit different. My extended family took it very well, surpassing my expectations. I hope when your baby is with you your family and friends can swallow their insensitive comments too.

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    • I am so thrilled that your extended family took it so well that your child isn’t blond and blue eyed. I hope that our family will be the same way – we figure who doesn’t just love a little baby regardless of its colour. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Brilliant post. As we are (incredibly slowly) making our way through the application, we are needing to make our initial choices like these. And it’s HARD. People have asked us what our selections were, and my husband was awesome and immediately said, “Sorry, that’s private.” Because you’re right–a child deserves the right to have his/her medical records and whatnot private. Because by divulging that casually you are divulging your child’s story. I was all for absolute transparency in our fertility journey, but I’m finding my thought process is changing with regards to adoption, and then it’s making me feel a little guilty about how open I’d been regarding egg and sperm donor choices. I LOVE your “comebacks,” and I need to bookmark this post for future use. Really useful thoughts. Thanks for sharing!

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    • I love that your husband is so good at saying that it’s private. I always find that I stumble to say that because I’m such a talker, but I’m working on it and I’m getting better constantly. And, my one line answers seem to be helping me. 🙂
      And, I completely understand what you mean about respecting our child’s privacy with our answers – 100% agree and understand. It’s just not the same as our IF/RPL journey – that was mine to share, and my child deserves the same level of respect that it is their story to share when they choose to.
      Much love to you with all of this, it’s so hard sometimes.

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    • Thanks so much Katie for your never ending encouragement. You are right, I totally understand why people ask the questions, I just hope that we can help educate people as to what they should and should not ask. 🙂

      Like

  13. It just amazes me the ignorant questions people will ask to those who are adopting or have adopted I have a friend who is white and adopted a child from Ethiopia. Obviously he is of a different race and someone actually asked them this…”Do you think he will ever know he is adopted?” uhhhh….seriously?

    Like

    • Hahaha! Things like that always make some laugh because, race differences aside, honestly if someone outside of the family knows that a child is adopted, wouldn’t the actual adopted person know to? It’s not a secrete in this day and age. Or at least I don’t believe it should be.

      Liked by 1 person

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