Answering adoption questions that shouldn’t be asked

This post comes from Vera, co-editor with me of the Choice Mom Guide to Adoption, as she examines the probing questions she and her now-13-year-old twin daughters, adopted from Russia, have been asked over the years. Answering adoption questions that shouldn’t be asked can help you and your child define what is important, and what is not.

Adoption is a personal choice and not for everyone. Like anything else, it has it’s pros and cons, ups and downs. Making the decision to adopt, I tried to be well read on almost every adoption issue I might possibly encounter along the way. I even adopted from Russia, my own lineage, to make things easier on all of us. I practiced comeback answers as well, for those unusual occasions when some stranger might ask me or them something about their adoption.

Never, in a million years, however, did I ever expect to be put on the spot on an almost daily basis. Welcome to my world, maybe you recognize it?

  • When did you first know you were having twins?
  • Do twins run in your family?
  • What’s with the light hair and blue eyes?
  • How long did you carry them?
  • Did you use fertility treatments or are they natural?
  • How much weight did you gain during your pregnancy with them?
  • Who is the oldest and how long between the two births?
  • Did you have a vaginal or cesarean birth?
  • They don’t look anything like you, but at least they look like each other.
  • What do you mean you don’t know if they are identical or fraternal, did the egg split or not!?

And so it goes. I pay homage to all of you who have adopted a child or children of a different race and to those of you who conceived multiples via fertility assistance. I feel a kinship of sorts. The public’s curiosity of “things that are different” is often times obtrusive and painful. My girls are thirteen now and have been forced to examine their birth heritage (a house of cards in some ways) for the benefit of others rather than for themselves.

Over the years, however, we have learned that this constant need for the public to “figure us out” has in many ways made us figure ourselves out. And in this vein, we have learned to look at those who continue to invade our private lives with their inappropriate and bizarre questions and turn the mirror back on them with a simple yet profound response: “Wow, that’s kind of personal, what would make you ask such a question?”

Vera Snow is an adoptive mom and Certified Spiritual Director living in Minneapolis. She writes a blog to support the spiritual journey.


  1 comment for “Answering adoption questions that shouldn’t be asked

  1. Sara
    February 26, 2011 at 3:09 pm


    I read your post and instantly thought of my family; me adopted (African American/Caucasian), my brother adopted (Korean), my sister biological (Caucasian), my parents (Caucasian). One time on vacation in Colorado a woman took our family picture then asked what group we were from because we were so diverse! I recall being called "salt and pepper" when with only one of my parents. People are both ignorant and curious. I’ve leaned toward "teachable moments" when I have the patience for it.

    I’ve now adopted myself and since my son is full African American and is "brown" like me, I don’t get the upfront questions. It’s after people know he’s adopted that they have lots of questions about his adoption, the process, etc.

    One can hope that one day people will just mind their own darn business and accept families as they are.

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