4 Ways to Answer Nosy Questions About Adoption

“Why did the mother put him/her up for adoption?”

“How much did he/she cost?”

“Why didn’t you have your own kids?”

“Are your children real siblings?”

If you’re an adoptive parent, it’s only a matter of time before you get asked a nosy and too-personal question about your child.

Most mean well, but their questions are frustrating just the same. People who have had biological children don’t have to answer any questions about how much their medical bills were, or whether they had to undergo fertility treatments to conceive. Why should parents who have adopted have to answer invasive questions?

The answer is you shouldn’t, but you’ll likely get them anyway. So the next time you’re confronted with nosy adoption questions, stay cool. Swallow your anger. And remember these four phrases for answering nosy questions that are guaranteed to steer the conversation in a direction you are comfortable with.

Phrase 1- If you’re in the mood to educate: “Why do you ask?”

Responding with a question allows you to try and get the petitioner to articulate why they might be asking. If they have a legitimate reason for asking the question, you’ve now understood their position and can possibly share a little bit about your adoption experience in the hopes of educating that person. If the asker doesn’t have a reason, or it’s not a good one to you, you can simply choose to politely end the conversation and walk away.

Phrase 2 – If you’re offended: “I’d rather not talk about that.” 

It’s okay to let even a well-meaning person know that their question has missed the mark and offended you. The reality is that we are all entitled to our privacy, and even if we look noticeably different than our children, that doesn’t mean it’s anyone else’s right to have a peek inside our lives or question our family. It’s possible that the asker didn’t realize how offensive or insulting her question was, so you can enlighten him or her in a polite manner. A simple and straightforward statement that is right to the point and leaves no room for the person who asked it to ask anything else. 

Phrase 3 – If you’re feeling frustrated: “That’s a private, family matter.”

Let’s face it. No matter how much we wish the world would just wake up and realize that families come in all shapes and sizes, there are days when we just don’t want to be the kind educator who helps someone realize that. Some adoptive families just want to be with our kids and be left in peace. So on those days, instead of being mean, try being funny. If you really want to make an impression, glance around before you answer like you’re checking to make sure no one is watching.

Phrase 4 – If you’re feeling really annoyed at the intrusiveness of the question: “Great weather we’re having, isn’t it?”

Really any random question will do as a response. Your goal is to change the subject immediately before you let loose on the other person, so keep your response to a single question that’s generic and vague, something like the weather or a holiday. In parenting world, there is always a holiday that you’re in the midst of preparing for at any given time. 

The most important thing to remember is the feeling of your child as all of this is going on, assuming the child is within earshot when a question is asked. No matter which of the four above approaches you take, make sure that you take a minute to follow up with your children when the exchange is over to make sure that if they’re old enough to understand what was just said, that they haven’t been hurt or confused in any way. Reassure them of your love for them and their permanent spot in your family. That way you know your child won’t be negatively affected, no matter what nosy questions are asked.