Questions People Have About Adoption That They're Too Scared to Ask

As an adopted child, I never really thought of being adopted as out of the ordinary. I am adopted from Guatemala, my cousin is adopted from China, my former second-grade crush is adopted from Korea, and among many others I know, my little in my sorority is adopted too. Because I am adopted, I happen to know a lot about the adoption process, the perspectives of people who have adopted and the perspectives of other adopted children. However, chances are, somebody who is not adopted may have a lot of questions.

Questions I am asked frequently:

1. Do you ever want to return to Guatemala (the place you were born)?

           Someday. I would definitely eventually like to see the place where I was born, but I would also like to travel to Greece and Italy!         

2. Would you ever want to meet your real parents?

            Oof. I get asked this question semi-frequently and have to gently tell people that my “real” parents are Debbie and Scott from Bethesda, MD. The people who have raised me with unconditional love and support are my real parents.

            So once we get past that technicality, I am asked, “would you ever want to meet your biological parents?” And the answer is, I’m not sure. If they ever reached out and tried to contact me, I suppose I wouldn’t be opposed to it. Were that situation to occur, I would empathize with their desire to meet the person they view as their child. As for myself, I have no need to try to find them.

3. When did you find out you were adopted?

            This is an interesting one. The answer is, I always knew. Along with my birthday (March 27), my family also celebrated my ‘Happy Adoption Day’ (June 5) annually. According to my mother, there was never a “big reveal,” and for me, there was never any shock or surprise. I’ve spoken to many other adopted children about this, and everyone I’ve conversed with has said the same regarding “finding out.” 

Questions I am usually not asked, but can provide the answer for:

1. Is it strange not being the same race as your family?

            When I was younger, actually yes. At seven years old, I knew nothing about the racial issues and conflicts of the world. However, I do remember sitting in my second grade classroom, drawing a picture of myself, shading my skin in brown and wishing that I was white—like my family. Don’t misunderstand me, my seven-year-old self did not wish for lighter skin because I thought being white was “better”; I simply wanted to physically fit in with my family. This leads me to question number two:

2. What race/culture do you identify with?

            Culturally, I am American. I grew up with a mom from D.C. and a dad from N.Y., and I speak English as my first language. Notably, I have found that this has been consistent actually with many children who are transracially adopted at a very young age.       

3. Would you ever want to adopt a child?

            Honestly, no, probably not. However, this isn’t because I had a horrible childhood or don’t love my parents or went through something traumatic.

            The reason why is simple: for once in my life, I would like to know one person in this world who is biologically related to me. I want to have the opportunity to be able to do something that most biologically related families do automatically—play that game of looking for family resemblance.

What you should probably stay away from saying:

1. “Wow, your parents must be really good people.” 

            Yes, they are good people. They are amazing people and amazing parents. While this may sound like a compliment on the surface, it implies that I, their child, am some sort of charity case they took in or some project they undertook for humanitarian reasons. Like rescuing a dog from the pound. Which frankly, I find offensive.

            My parents are wonderful people, but they didn’t adopt me to be good people. They adopted me because (like so many other couples who adopt) they really, really wanted a child and nature was giving them a bit of a tough time.

            What’s more though, when somebody says, “Wow, your parents must be really good people,” it almost implies that I am indebted to them for adopting me. While I am grateful to my parents for everything they have given me (unconditional love and support, a wonderful childhood, a bright future), I do not feel more grateful than a child who came out of her mother’s birth canal.

            Because I was adopted as a baby, I know nothing else than my current reality. My mom is my mom, my dad is my dad, and I love them with all my heart.