How Much To Say (Or Not Say)

Adoptive parents will sometimes struggle with how much information to share regarding their child’s adoption.
Many adoptive parents that have adopted transracially or who are parenting children that have dramatically different physical features than their own will be on the receiving end of direct inquiries and/or curious stares when out and about with their adopted child(ren).

Some of the questions people ask are well intended, while others may not be. Regardless of what’s at the root of the questions or stares, this feeling of perpetually being “on display” when out in public can create anxiety or confusion in the minds of adoptive parents, especially as it relates to what to say (or not say).

In their book entitled HOW TO RAISE AN ADOPTED CHILD, authors Judith Schaffer and Christina Lindstrom provide the following question they had received from an adoptive mother (and their answer):

Question – “I know that babies in carriages often draw the interest of, and comments from, strangers. But I think that my child is getting more than his share because my husband and I are dark-complexioned and our adopted son has blond hair and blue eyes. I’m not ashamed of being an adoptive parent, but I am getting very tired of answering the same old questions about how we got him. How can I get people to stop bothering me?”

Response – “It’s okay not to discuss your child’s adoption at all with strangers. You don’t owe them an explanation of anything and if they press the issue you can tell them that you would like to discuss it but that you don’t have the time at the moment. With neighbors, though, you might want to try to be patient and answer their questions, since you’re likely to interact with them socially and your child might eventually play with their children. You could also view the questions of neighbors you don’t know too well as an opportunity to make new friends.”

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