The Top 4 Worst Things You Can Ask An Adoptive Parent

gay-parent-stupid-questionsAfter we welcomed our son into our home via adoption, we entered a limbo time.  While we had full custody and the parental rights had been surrendered, there are all kinds of insecurities you face when you are alone with your thoughts.  Once the adoptions were final, I was amazed that love truly makes you a paranoid freak.

Is he breathing?  Will that person touching him after they smoked a cigarette give him cancer?  What if I drop him?  What if someone else drops him?  What if I’m driving in the car and his carseat cushion expands like a roasted marshmallow and and encompasses him into a smothering abyss?  Crazy thoughts, I tell ya!

While the paranoia subsides, there are still things I’m shocked people ask adoptive (especially gay adoptive) parents.  Some of the questions/comments enflame the paranoia while others are just stupid.  Here are a few of my biggest head-scratchers.

1.  ”What if his mom changes her mind?”  Or other variations like, “Can she take him back” or “What happens if she shows up and wants him?”

Does the answer to the question truly help you sleep better at night?  We just bumped into each other at the grocery store, and I see you maybe once every two years.  Obviously, we aren’t close enough for you to even know I adopted, so why would this knowledge even matter to you?  This question’s answer is exactly what every adoptive parent fears most in the deepest, darkest recesses of our minds.  While our adoptions are ironclad, we can’t help but worry.  Your question puts us in the worst defensive mode we have, saying, “Oh, no that can’t happen,” and then you continue to delve deeper.  Please, just shut up.  Really.

2.  ”Where did he come from?”  Or “Where did you get him?”

Your question’s phrasing makes me want to answer, “Oh, we got him over in the tire department at Kmart.”  He’s not an item you just go pick up somewhere.  His origin isn’t as important as the love we have for him as our own.  Sure, it’s ok to ask, “So, tell me the story of how you all became a family?”  This type of question tells adoptive parents you care more than just what country or state he’s from, plus, we love to tell this story over and over.

3.  ”What is he?”

Yes, we have heard this rude question.  Many adoptive parents have children of a different pigment or culture.  If a child looks Hispanic or African American, then assume he is and leave it there.  What he is, is our son.  We forget he has curly hair and dark skin.  What he is, is a tiny, important human.

4.  ”How much did you pay for him?”

I can’t even explain or try to help anyone understand how stupid this question is.  If you don’t get why this one is out of line, perhaps you shouldn’t speak.

Now candidly, we know gay parents are a rarity in today’s world and no one should be afraid to discovery more.  Many of us would love help build a bridge and help you become more understanding of our challenges and needs.  When trying to strike up a conversation, consider some of these questions instead.

  • Tell me about how you were able to connect with your child?
  • At what point did he enter your family?
  • What was the process like?
  • So, tell me the story of how you all became a family?

At the end of it all however, the very best thing you can say to any adoptive parent is…

“Wow, you guys look just alike,” even if we know you’re lying :)

 After writing this post, it was shared in several spaces.  Other adoptive parents weighed in with horrible questions that deserve an addition to the list.

“Did she use drugs when she was pregnant with him?”

“Was he a crack baby?”

“Are you going to tell her she’s adopted?”

“Are your children siblings?”

“Is that your grandchild?”

For the surrogate father or mothers, “Which one of you is the real dad/mom?”

Touching Lives, Building Bridges

When Greg and I had Micah, we made the tough choice to live very openly on-line and in public as a visible gay family.  We never wanted Micah to become a political pawn or purpose; however, we felt that living open would build bridges and bury the horrible stereotypes many Americans have about gay people.

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After posting a family photo on the beach, we received over 500 likes, comments and shares.  Later that week, I received this amazing email from a lady we don’t even know who has seen our family on Facebook.    It’s way too good not to share, with her permission, of course.

“Hi Brian,

I just had to tell you how deeply your family photo for the Summer of 2013 touched me. I see you and you family as a true American family…no other label needed. A beautiful American family with love and laughter and no CLOSETS! I so wish that my brother had felt that freedom. I lost him to suicide 10 days before his 35th birthday. That was many years ago and I now just enjoy the wonderful memories I have of him and they are about the wonderful man that he was.

gay-fathers-dad-tennessee-nashville-You and your partner have the kind of relationship that says everything a marriage should say without ever saying a word. Just your pictures tell the story. I am blessed to have a wonderful husband [and] we have put five children through college, we enjoy our grand-kids and we still love each other like yesterday was the first day.

Your family pic just reminded me of me and Xxxx while the kids were all small how much fun we all had, how much my brother loved my kids and  Xxxx’s kids and I just wanted to wish you all things wonderful in this world. You are such a good example of humanity. Thank you for helping to bridge gaps for the ignorance that surrounds us..and know that it can be overcome when we aren’t even trying. Your picture will make someone say….’what a lovely family’ without even knowing that you have begun to make them see a ‘normal’ family as a bond of love and not gender.

Thank you again. Take care. ~Xxxxx”