Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The 24 most annoying things that people say to adoptees

This is a list compiled by Megan, a real-live adopted individual

The most annoying thing of all: “real mom and real dad”

1. “Did you ever meet your real mom?”

The guy or gal on the street uses “real mom” and “real dad” to refer to birth parents. But my adoptive parents insisted they were the one and only “real.” Every adoptive parent wants to be “real,” and is real. My mother taught me scripts to repeat when someone asked about “real mom.” From my early childhood I found myself in the awkward position of correcting not only peers but adults. The woman in whose tummy I grew was “birthmother” and the people that raised me were “real.” To educate the entire planet on what is real is a huge responsibility for a 7 year-old, especially one that doesn’t understand where babies come from.

When I reunited with my birthmom as an adult I was surprised to learn that she is insulted by the suggestion that she isn’t real mom. Conversely, my birthfather insists that he is not my real father (just don’t go there). To simply my life, I now leave it up to the parents to decide what is real. So, there are two real moms but only one real dad. When people ask about real mom I just say, “If you are referring to my birthmom, we connected a few years ago.” It is much easier to believe that a woman without a face or name is not real.

Substituting the word “real” for “biological” isn’t going out of vogue anytime soon. Adopted children will just have to find their own way of dealing with it.

Other annoying comments:
(I could write essays on all of these, and may do so at a later time.)

Adoption is everyone’s second choice
2. So, what do you call your parents?

3. When I get married I hope I never have to adopt.

4. If I got pregnant my parents would never make me give the baby away.

5. Do your parents have any of their own children? (Those darn semantics again. The guy and gal on the street will use “own children” synonymously with “biological children”.)

Physical appearance
6. Doesn’t it bother you that you don’t know anyone who looks like you?

7. That’s so amazing that you can tan easier than the rest of your family! (transracial adoptee)

8. You look a lot like your parents. (When they know I’m adopted)

9. You and your sister don’t look anything alike. (When they don’t know I’m adopted)

10. You have your mother’s eyes. (Referring to my adoptive mom)

11. What nationality are you? (As a child I usually responded to this question by reciting my adoptive parents’ origins. But sometimes I was being asked why I look the way I do. I didn’t know my birthparents’ heritage -- some people would try to guess it... “You have a square jaw, maybe you’re Welsh.” “Those heavy-set eyebrows might be Spanish…” What a fun game..NOT!)

Us poor waifs

12. Don’t you feel lucky that somebody took you in?

13. You’re adopted? Do you have a learning disability?

14. How many foster homes were you in before someone decided to keep you?

15. I remember when your parents got you. (They picked me up at the market, right?)


16. Your natural mother has probably put you out of her mind.

17. Why didn’t your real mother want you?

18. Well, my mom wasn’t married and she kept me. Your birthmother should have kept you. I feel sorry for you.

My adoptive parents hammered it into my brain and even into my cells that my birthmom loved me very, very much but she wasn’t ready to care for me. I have never felt unwanted or abandoned, despite what peers would say.

Naughty birthmother.

(Wait a minute, I came from her. What does that make me?)

19. You better watch yourself with the boys. You’re pretty and you might have a tendency to be promiscuous like your birthmother.

An adopted child shouldn’t have to hear negative remarks about her birthmother or birthfather. It’s too easy to project those comments onto herself. Remarks about birthparents will affect a child’s self-image. I also worry about adoptive parents blogging about their child’s birthparents. The kid will grow up and read the archives some day…

In denial

20. (At the doctor’s office)
Nurse: Do you have any family history of high blood pressure?
Me: I don’t know. I’m adopted.
Nurse: OK then, do you have any family history of heart disease?
Me: I don’t know. I’m adopted.
Nurse: OK. Do you have any family history of cancer?

21. Being adopted is no different at all than being born to your parents
(Different doesn’t have to mean worse. C’mon guys, let’s acknowledge that
adoption is not the same. Quit pretending. Maybe it’s even more special sometimes!)

22. Aren’t you worried you’ll accidentally date a relative?

Religious Dogma

23. Heavenly Father planned for all of us to be born to our mommies and daddies

24. Your birthmother was nothing more than a vessel for you to obtain a body and come to earth. (People who like to use this pet phrase always speak of the birthmother in past tense!!!)

Sometimes people say stupid things. So what! None of their perceptions can change who I am . I am a proud, joyful adopted person!!!


Amanda said...

This was really educational. Thanks.

I have to agree with your birthmother being insulted by the use of "real" to refer to your adoptive parents, because it does seem to make it sound like your birthmother wasn't "real" - but I do get why it's explained the way it is. As if to say the parents raising you aren't real, when they are in fact real people, but birthparents are real people too...

Amanda said...

I also totally agree that an adopted child shouldn't have to hear negative comments about their birth families. I worry all the time about what my son's adoptive family tells him about me, and the birth father, who like your birth father still doesn't think he's the father.

Jewls said...

great post! Some of these things I didn't even think about, but it's great to know!

Self-Titled said...

I've always thought the phrasing "real" mom or dad was weird. First time I heard it I blurted out "real? as opposed to imaginary??"

The Wife said...

I have two adopted children. A neighbor once asked me if I was afraid that they were going to fall in love with each other. SERIOUSLY??? Whenever someone asks me where my kids mother is from I tell them my birthplace!! They get the picture quickly.

Dan and Emily said...

I love this post!

Shine said...

LOVE this post, I'd love to ask Megan for permission to re-post on my blog (with credit given to her). Any idea how I can contact her (or whomever I need to contact) to get permission?

Megan said...

Mommy, RN--
I'd be honored if you re-posted this. What is the link to your blog? My e-mail is adoptedhappy@gmail.com

I was very unsure about how B4A readers would react to the post. I am glad it has struck a cord with some of you!

Joyfully Yours!

Bailey's Leaf said...

Thank you so much for your post. I'm an adoptive mother and have heard a bunch of yuck. I did write about it in a post one day. Feel free to give it a read. It'll probably curl your hair.


People do say dumb things. It's amazing. Just the other day, at my grandfather's calling hours no less, our previous Pastor's wife asked my mom, "Just how does K- fit into your family?" "She's one of my grandbabies. She's just like the other kids. There is no difference." Our daughter has been with us since she was a day and a half old. Yet, knowing what a blessing she was to all of us, why on Earth would she ask such a dumb thing?

Megan said...

Bailey's Leaf - Thanks for sharing your post. Sounds like you handle dumb comments with grace!

Lara Zierke said...

Lots of good insight. I know my daughter will run into questions like these. I hope I do a good job preparing her.

I, too, get annoyed when people say how she was meant to be ours because we look alike. And yeah, we could probably pass for biological mother/daughter, but to me this implies that if our next adopted child doesn't look a lick like us, that adoption won't be "meant to be." Ugh!

Tamara said...

Just came across this. I'm also a REAL LIVE ADOPTEE! And I could(like you)write a book filled with the obnoxious things people say to me. My favorite (when I was 12, from an aunt): "You know, you could marry your brother if you want to!" My response, "The thought actually never crossed my mind." Recently, someone suggested to me (since I'm in the miserable and unfortunate state of being single - damn, should've married my brother!) that I could marry my cousin, who is my age, and also single. Seriously? SERIOUSLY? People are insane.

Related Posts with Thumbnails
Adoption Blogger Interview Project 2013