Check out Amanda’s useful post on questioning adoptees about adoption – It’s true that many of the questions those of us connected to adoption get asked are presumptive, too personal, or even unkind. Perhaps unintentionally so. This blog post won’t tell the adoption community how to deal with the questions or overlook what makes them uncomfortable about certain adoption-related questions. I want to appeal to those who may some day ask an adoptee a question to do so in a way that’s respectful. I will cover adoptee-focused questions, although comparable questions may get asked of other adoption community members.
The hallmark of inappropriate questions is that they are filled with micro-aggressions–underlying messages that get sent along with the question. Micro-aggressions reflect biases and often aren’t what you meant to say at all http://www.declassifiedadoptee.com
And sometimes of course, those inappropriate questions are full of intentional messages which the asker just can’t quite manage to say in a very passive/aggressive approach which indicates their interest but can’t hold back the disapproval of the adoptee point of view or even assumes an adoptee point of view. “Hey hang on!” we want to shout, we’re individuals here, we may agree on some things but we have our own points of view, millions of them!
I could give you any number of examples here from the emails and comments of adopters who want the answers but don’t like the answers. Some of the questions are so akin to that well-known question “Have you stopped beating your wife yet?”, along the lines of, “Who would you rather have been brought up by, your mother or your adopters?” * that they are almost laughable or would be if it weren’t for the micro-aggression, the blissful ignorance and the disrespect. Most of them verge on the way too personal and intrusive, as if somehow an adopter has rights conferred by adoption over ever adoptee. How impersonal that feels, as if we are being lumped together in some homogenous mass of sameness with the confusing contradiction of an up close and personal approach of a too intrusive question. How hard is it to think something through, think of an equivalent question for yourself and see how you react to it and feel about it? It seems no-one quite knows what to do with us adult adoptees, it must be like walking on egg-shells for the uninitiated and it seems walking in our shoes hasn’t been tried yet or doesn’t work! There are of course many notable exceptions, let us be thankful for them, may there be more of them very soon and may they spread the word quickly! May there be more, much, much more from Amanda and others like Amanda, who can lead the way, set the templates and create some guidelines, boundaries and acceptable approaches.
*Thanks to Rebekkah, supporter of Reece’s Rainbow for this question, which has been invaluable as an example.