It never fails that a well-meaning family member, friend or passerby will ask a seemingly harmless question that has the power to boil an adoptive parent’s blood. Which of these are you most tired of hearing?

Are you her real parents? Are they real siblings? Which one is your real child?

The word “real” in these instances implies that there is something abnormal about a family built through adoption. Being an adoptive parent doesn’t make you any less of a parent than those who have their children biologically. An adopted child is very much YOURS and you love him or her just as you would love a biological child. Real, as an adjective, is an incredible insult to any family touched by adoption.

How much did she cost?

Children are not objects for purchase at your local grocery store. They are tiny human beings who do not need to be marked with a price tag and made to feel like they are a financial burden. Not to mention, the topic of money is often a private matter that should remain as such.

Aren’t you afraid the birth mother will take him back?

This question creates unnecessary fear for adoptive parents. Of course there are horror stories of custody battles between adoptive parents and biological parents, but those are rare. The adoption process is designed to ensure birth parents are confident in their decision. On top of that, extensive legal measures are taken to ensure all adoptions comply with local state laws.

What’s wrong with the birth mother? Why didn’t she want to keep her baby?

There are thousands of reasons why a parent may choose to place their child for adoption. Even if an adoptive family knows these reasons, they are private and personal, not matters of gossip.

Are you going to tell him he’s adopted?

Today, many adoptive parents opt to have open and honest relationships with their children. Many adoptees know they are adopted from infancy as it is a story they share often and proudly. The fact that a child is adopted is not something to be ashamed of and hide.

Why didn’t you adopt this way? Or that way?

Adoptive parents choose the type of adoption that is best for them. That may or may not be the same way others would choose to adopt, but that doesn’t mean any one way is wrong or superior to others. Whatever way a family comes together is perfect.

Are you going to have any children of your own?

An adopted child is your own child. End of story. Implying that they are somehow inferior to biological children is offensive to parents and harmful to the child.


Adoptive parents handle these questions in a variety of ways – sarcastic comments, brushing it off, or anger, to name a few. Our advice is to take these annoying questions and comments as an opportunity to educate others about sensitivity and an appropriate adoption vocabulary.  Good luck!