It’s been almost four years since I became a mom via adoption. I’ve gotten used to the crazy questions people ask me. Well, almost used to it. The things some people will ask a total stranger in line at Target in the name of “just curious” never cease to amaze me.
Different questions are received differently from different people, and timing and tone are everything. But the one adoption question I’ve always thought was overstepping no matter what the circumstance is this one:
“Can’t you have any of your own?”
See also any derivative of “are you still trying to get pregnant” or telling me someone your neighbor works with got pregnant 45 seconds after they started their adoption process.
Let me tell you why these questions and comments — albeit well-meaning and probably innocent — are not a good idea.
1. The average woman doesn’t want to have a conversation with you about her vagina
Or her fallopian tubes, raging endometriosis, the hospitability of her cervical mucous, her partner’s sperm motility or the like. I would love to see the look on someone’s face if I answered the “are you still trying to get pregnant” question with this:
“Oh, we definitely are! We’re like horny little bunnies. We do it every day, sometimes twice! We experiment with different positions, and I prop my ass up on pillows for at least an hour after. What do you think I could be doing wrong?”
A question about my baby maker coming from a good friend or someone I know beyond the checkout line might be received a little differently, but for the most part, people tend to keep discussions about the working order of their private parts… well, private.
I’ll never understand why adoption causes some people to think all bets are off. “Can’t you have any of your own” is such a loaded question, and you might not like what you get. Do you really want to hear the nitty-gritty about someone’s shriveled ovaries or tilted uterus? I didn’t think so.
2. If infertility was a precursor to adoption, maybe there’s some lingering pain
Sometimes it’s hard to arrive at the adoption decision after battling with infertility. I don’t have personal experience with this. My husband and I didn’t marry until we were in our 40s and my fertility ship had sailed off into the sunset, so adoption was an easy choice for us.
A woman who has tried to conceive for years and maybe spent money on fertility treatments because she felt strongly about having a biological child or experiencing pregnancy may be more sensitive about this subject. Although this wasn’t my adoption story, I do know that fertility treatment and the quest to get pregnant can be all-consuming. Bringing it up — especially when you don’t know the family well (or at all) — might be like ripping off a scab. Do you really want to go there? Hint: The answer is no. No, you don’t.
3. Maybe infertility has nothing to do with someone’s adoption
People with perfectly functional plumbing adopt all the time and for different reasons. Maybe they see adoption as a calling. Maybe they have strong feelings about bringing a child into the world when there are children without families. Maybe the stars aligned a certain way and put adoption in their path. Maybe it’s none of your business. Chances are, if you know someone well, you’ll get to hear their adoption story. If you don’t know them well, then why are you asking about whether their bodies are capable of human reproduction, hmm?
Besides, most adoptive parents are going to answer your question with “but they are my own.” You might come back with “well, you know what I mean.” My answer to this one is always “yes, I know what you mean. They are my own.”
Seriously, people. Ease up on the nosy questions. How about “cute kid”? That one’s always safe and virtually guarantees that the askee won’t launch into an in-depth discussion of the health of her lady bits.