When you discover that someone is planning to adopt a child, please don’t say…"So you can’t have your own kids?"
I still get all flustered when asked this question. Firstly, I’m irritated with the question because it generally comes right after I’ve shared with someone, often an acquaintance type friend that D and I are in the process of adoption. This question quickly shifts the focus from our excitement over an adoption and family to genetics and fertility. I end up feeling that adoption is second best and a less valid way of forming a family. I feel like I have to defend our choice and how it is an exciting time in our lives. And secondly, what does it matter to an acquaintance anyway? When it comes to talking about reproduction it seems there are no boundaries. I don’t know what sort of answer people expect to get when asking this question. Do they want to hear about our experience at a fertility clinic? Do they want a run down of how long we’ve tried, what we’ve tried? Do they want to hear about the loss and grief? Maybe I should launch into a descriptive explanation of the hysterosalpingogram test...that might divert the question!
For the record, I really don’t have a problem sharing my story with someone who is genuine in asking.
I realize that some of my reaction to this question is my own issue and I need to learn how to deal with the emotions that come up for me. But I always react to the use of the word “own.” This child will be ours in that we will have been given legal responsibility to care for him/her. What the person means to ask is "can you have biological kids?" but instead biology is equated with ownership. I’m sorry but no one "owns" their children whether they were birthed or adopted. Parents have been given the responsibility to take care of a child but they are not possessions. Isn’t parenting a process of letting go anyway?
So please remember, the correct word to use is "biological" when speaking about your kids to someone who has adopted a child or is in the process. And determine if you really need to ask the fertility related questions (or look for the right time) or can you instead be excited for prospective adoptive parents and look forward with them, joining them in that journey.