10 Annoying Questions and Comments for Adoptive Families

Robyn daughters motherhood blessing

In March of 2008, my husband and I adopted an 11 month old baby from China and brought her home to the suburbs of Detroit. Although we waited 2-½ years to get our daughter, I was in no way prepared for parenthood. I was, however, prepared for the possible “adoption” questions that people might ask. I had been warned, and I was ready.

I know some people get very offended by adoption questions, but to me, it’s part of what we signed up for when we signed up for international adoption. I never took offense to any of them, I’m not sure why. It could be because I’m Jewish so I have had my share of fun questions over the years: “Oh, you’re Jewish?? I know some Jews in Texas! You might know them? Rosenbaum??” Like we all know each other, like we all have sweet matching Jew jackets.

There is nothing wrong with being curious about families that don’t fit the conventional norm. You might even sneak a peek or propose a question if you see one such family out and about. But, just as a PSA, if you are in the presence of a family with a child who is adopted , here are 10 you might want to avoid:

{1.} To a mom and her Asian baby: “Does she speak Chinese?” No, she does not speak Chinese. She doesn’t speak anything. She is a freakin’ baby.

{2.} “How much did you pay for her?” No one has ever asked me that, but if they did, I think I’d pee in my pants.

{3.} “She is SO cute! Do you have any of your own?” Someone asked me this when I was at the Olga’s in West Bloomfield once and I was so proud of my answer: “Ummmm, if she’s not mine, someone at this restaurant is going to be really mad when they realize I took her.”

{4.} To a mom and her child CLEARLY from another country: “Are you going to tell her that she’s adopted?” No, I’m never telling her and I’m sure she’ll never figure it out.

{5.} “Now that you have adopted, you will for sure get pregnant. I know this one girl, well, I don’t know her but my friend kind of does, and she was waiting to adopt from Cambodia or Russia or somewhere and then she got PREGNANT!!” …UGH. Please, STOP…Adoption is not always a second choice. Please don’t assume it is and please don’t assume we need to hear your stories about all the people who got pregnant right after they adopted. For some of us, the need to adopt was much more overwhelming than the need to get pregnant. In fact, many of us have never had any desire to get preggo, ever. (Or was that just me? Maybe it was, sorry.)

{6.} Since I have two daughters, one who is adopted from China and one who is biological, I actually get this question on occasion: “Are they real sisters?” …”They are, and they’re SPECTACULAR!!” (If you know what that reference is from, you will think it’s funny.)

{7.} “Are you babysitting?” I was at Jax Car Wash in Southfield when some guy asked me if I was the nanny for my kids. I was so excited that I called my girlfriend to tell her. We immediately assumed, of course, that the guy asked me that question because he thought I looked young. After hearing that other adoptive moms have been asked this same question, I regretfully realize that my girlfriend and I may have been wrong. The man who asked was probably confused by me having one kid from China and from “The Bagina.” He didn’t think I looked young at all. He just thought I was some old ass babysitter. I hate that guy.

{8.} “I didn’t realize she was going to look so Chinese!!” Um…OK?

{9.} “Why didn’t you adopt from the U.S.?” I will never forget that one. We were at dinner in Birmingham and some guy asked me that. Everyone has their own reasons for adopting and for choosing their child’s area of descent. I have a whole back story that led me to China and I don’t mind discussing it. Others do. Slippery slope on this one. Wear a helmet.

{10.} “If you hadn’t gotten your daughter, someone else would have, right?” Some lady said that to me at a party on Cass Lake once and I wanted to throw her off the boat. I don’t know why it bothered me so much, but it did. She wasn’t trying to mean, she was just making a point— and she’s probably right. Someone else would have gotten our daughter if we hadn’t, but we were the ones who were “matched” up with her, and we are the ones that got her, and for that, we are very thankful every day of our lives (And our daughter should be too because we let her skip school for a Tiger’s game on her birthday, she gets to live in the same city as Eminem, and we eat a lot of cake.


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Robyn Coden
My name is Robyn Coden and I’ve got kind of an odd lifestyle, my family and I live in the suburbs of Detroit, Michigan for part of the year and then, during the summer, we move to Northern Michigan to live at the overnight camp for kids where my husband is one of the owners/directors. I have a job in promotional marketing and I love cake (sheet cake, not fancy cake). I also love “Miami Vice” (the first 2 seasons) and presents. I went to college at The Ohio State University and lived in Columbus, Ohio for 8 years, but other than that, I have always lived in Michigan—and I have always been happy here. I especially love that Detroit is making a comeback because the days we spend with our kids downtown, those are good days.


  1. I’ve had them all! And more… Do I get a prize?! ? Wait until someone asks if you are her grandmother. Seriously pissed me off!

    My sister and I were shopping with my daughter when we noticed a rude family staring at us. I put my arm around my sister and she kissed me on the cheek. Since they were assuming we were a couple with a Chinese daughter, we gave them a show! ??

    The one I truly hate the most is when people go on and on about how we “saved” our daughter and what wonderful Christians we are for adopting her! No, I’m selfish because I wanted a daughter and she just happened to be in China! It wasn’t some great missionary act!!! UGH!!!!


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