Questions I’ve Always Wanted to Ask

You’re not adopted? But you don’t look like your parents at all! What’s it like not being adopted? Are you sad because you weren’t chosen?

Knowing why you look that way and where many of the things you like and dislike about your appearance come from, being able to see these things in the people in your house and in the people you see at family reunions: What’s that like? Do you feel like a part of your family? Does having the same eyes or nose or laugh as others make you feel ordinary, not special? Do you ever think about other, unreal parents?

Is it embarrassing to fill out all the paperwork before your first visit to a new doctor? What’s that like? Did an employee ever fail to notice your “not adopted” note on the file and ask in front of everyone how you know all this family history stuff? How did it feel to be singled out like that?

Knowing your birth story, knowing how many hours your mother was in labor with you; knowing what name she gave you because it’s your name forever, knowing where your father was at the time: How does that feel? When you were young, did other children make fun of you for not being adopted? because nobody but your own parents wanted you?

When you were little, did you entertain fantasies like those Freud called the family romance? Pretend you were adopted and one day your real family would come and love you better, love you right? How did that feel? Did it fill an emptiness for you, or did it turn out there had never been any emptiness, and you were only seeking the love you had at home all along? Did you, as a child, feel sure you were adopted and announce it to your parents, only to see them  smile and roll their eyes rather than rush you to a therapist or accuse you of being disloyal to the family? What was that like?

Are you grateful you were kept? Does it make you feel special to know your parents made you right there at home, literally between them, and waited nine whole months for you and gave you their name–that you were literally created by and for them? Are you grateful you weren’t aborted? How does it feel to know you belong where you are, that at least two people made or changed their life plans, sacrificing countless unlived lives, just for you? Does it make you feel blessed like this non-adoptee I met once and this one my friend knows and this one in this magazine and this one on the internet?

If you don’t feel grateful, do you think this is because knowing so much about yourself and your heritage mean you missed out on many of life’s wonderful surprises? When your friends did their “birthparent” searches, did you feel left out? Does it make sense that this still bothers you, or do you feel you should simply get over it?

Did you ever consider searching for your might-have-been adoptive parents, for that one “looking to adopt” couple who would have provided the perfect home for you? Why? Why not? What went wrong? Are you unhappy? Were you abused? Why? Why not? Why? How does this feel?

When people find out you aren’t adopted, do they say it’s wonderful and then change the subject? Do you sense they don’t know what to say to someone whose parents didn’t even have to pass a home study? Do they accuse you of being spoiled? Do they compare you to their non-adopted relatives? Do they expect you to be an authority on all aspects and schools of thought on parturition, and to be able to explain it from the points of view of the mother, father, baby, OB/GYN, all members of the attending medical staff and any deity/ies involved or not involved? Does that bother you, or do you feel honored to be a spokesperson for parturition?

Has not having your amended birth certificate ever prevented you from obtaining either US citizenship or a passport? What was that like?

Maybe you don’t think about it, like fish don’t think about water, and that’s understandable, but have you ever tried imagining how it would really feel to be adopted?

Have you ever tried really hard to imagine it, to the point that your psyche began to feel uncomfortable in some way?

And have you then gone a little bit past that feeling, and wondered if you weren’t wrong about a thing or two?

Yes? Kinda disconcerting, wasn’t it? (Thank you for making that effort. It means a lot.)



Thank you.



Filed under AdoptoLand, General Ignoramitude, Stop Saying That, What It's Like

39 responses to “Questions I’ve Always Wanted to Ask

  1. Like? Love this. My mind has just been blown.

  2. Sam

    Adopters and society as a whole can’t stand the thought that an adoptee (especially those they think they own) may just have an issue with not being raised in their natural families, surrounded by their own people. They think their money and their families are enough and are so threatened by the natural family because they know they aren’t.

    I can hear my son’s adopters saying something to this effect:

    “We’ve sent you on trips around the world and buy you anything you want, send you to college where WE want you to go, and you aren’t happy you weren’t raised by the woman who is actually a good mother and who looks just like you; who shares your interests and talents?”

    Nah, they aren’t enough and they never will be.

  3. Dee64

    This is excellent writing and hopefully opens eyes. My you have a gift

  4. Thank you for this amazing twist of viewpoint. I hope it sinks in for all those non-adoptees whose friend of a friend of a friend is just fine with being adopted and never wanted to search.
    My latest post: What do Adoption and Gay Rights Have in Common? (

  5. omg, This is amazing! really cheered me up after some dumbass stuff I heard people say about adoption today

  6. Debra Helmer

    Thank you for speaking my truth! They just don’t get it…

  7. Mirah Riben

    I think you forgot the most important question:

    “Are you SURE you’re not adopted? Cause you’d never know cause your birth certificate says that you were born to your parents even when you weren’t! many adoptive parents wait for the ‘right time’ to tell you and then they feel it’s too late so they just never tell you! Think about that for a while.”

    Also: “How does it feel knowing you may inherit all their illness and maybe their crazies, too?”

  8. Pingback: Links worth sharing… | The adopted ones blog

  9. Patty

    Well done, sis! I am sure if us adoptees put our heads together, we can come up with even More questions to ask non-adoptees! I frankly would like to know how they feel about me when my natural siblings found me, and I in turn found out I had two brothers, and they had always wanted a brother. Also that I come from a family of 8 kids, all adopted, and we all look or strongly resemble one another! Suddenly I no longer stick out in life like a sore thumb!

    • Thanks, Patty! You’ll notice Mirah’s already added a couple of questions.

      Speaking of adding, if you haven’t visited the Adopto-Speak Dictionary page yet, would you mind checking it out? I always need more suggestions there, and I know adoptees can be creative that way….

      PS–In case I haven’t said so before, Sis: I’m so happy to know you read (and even comment on!) my blog.

  10. Chad Rancher

    This is a really great way to reply to those non-adoptees who claim to be adoption experts because they have a friend who knows someone who is (always present tense, you know) adopted. Some other questions to ask, since these happened along my adoption journey, are: What’s it like to be in a store or at an airport and NOT scan the area to see if you can locate someone who looks like you or who might be your first mother? Or what’s it like to look up in the night sky and NOT wonder what your first family is like, and NOT wonder if you have biological siblings somewhere out there??(Yeah, I really used to wonder about these things, a lot…)

  11. Wow. This completely blew my mind — because people make those comments to my kids and sometimes I want to smack them and ask them something similar to what you’ve written here. Well done.

  12. NextInLine

    Love this post! Also: How did it feel when you sought out your not-real adoptive parents and they rejected you? Is it difficult to not have to pay hundreds of dollars to not find out who your not real adopters were?

    Just saying. Love the post.

  13. Hi, I recently stumbled across your blog while conducting research for my dissertation at UC Davis. I am a mother of a daughter adopted from China and I am doing research on the ethnic and cultural self identification of Chinese adoptees. Would you or possibly anyone you know be interested in taking a brief survey (IRB approved) to help me better understand this important topic? I think you offer a unique perspective and I would really appreciate your participation.

    • As a (bitchy, contrary) Caucasian, I am in no way qualified to say anything about “the ethnic and cultural self identification of Chinese adoptees,” but maybe someone else will be interested?

      Have you read any other entries on this blog? You might not really want my unique (which it isn’t) perspective.

      • don’t be silly, any old adoptee will do , we are all interchangeable after all

      • Thank you for the reply and your candidness. Contrary to what Genderhash believes, I do not feel any person is interchangeable for another. I had no idea of your ethnicity (I made an erroneous assumption based on the link chain that brought me to your site) but was drawn to the passionate voice with which you write about adoption. I have recently become more aware of the contrary opinions regarding adoption and am interested in learning more. My dissertation topic is a bit selfish truth be told. My goal is to learn as much as I can about the issues faced, the struggles, the things us parents completely screw up and the ways we could have made a difference so I can do my best for my daughter and inform other adoptive parents. All sides need to be heard… I recognize there are issues with policy, with parent education, with societal ideology and with support. I also know none of that is likely to change on a global scale without research conducted by people like me who want to hear the messy truth and do the work that could make a difference.

        The survey I have created is qualitative and just a starting point for me to make sure I’m asking the right questions. As an ethnographic researcher, most of my research is conducted through intensive interviews and field work. What I report about is born from the needs of the community I am researching as it is their voice which is important, not mine. I work a lot with personal and family narrative (co)construction in its many forms. Although you are not Chinese and completing the survey might not make the best sense, I think your feedback would be invaluable. Would you consider allowing me to interview you? You might be able to provide an insight about ideas and issues with adoption I otherwise might not hear that could impact the quality of my study and the eventual impact it could have.

        I do not know how old you are, but if you agree to an interview I’ll need to know if you are at least 18. My study protocol and IRB approval is limited to adult participants.

      • I’m so far over eighteen I’m not sure I remember it anymore. (-:

        Mind if I mull this over for a day or three?

  14. Tasty Burrito

    This ain’t my blog, but if it were, I’d tell Moonbabymama to get her eggshell walking statistical desires off it.

  15. Fantastic. The more I read it, the more I love it. I want to share it with basically every non-adoptee I’ve ever met.

  16. …@ Moonbabymama, having thought it over, and given my past experiences with both adoption and academe, I’d rather not be interviewed. In the first place, I’d hate for my opinion to be construed as representing that of Chinese adoptees by anyone in any way. In the second place, I’m a writer and graduate degree holder myself, and would prefer, if I ever deemed it appropriate, to publish my thoughts about adoption under my own name.

    You’re more than welcome, obviously, to cite any part of this blog you find useful. Best of luck with your PhD.

  17. Pingback: Just a Love Letter to my Mother | transcyndence

  18. Going to share this with my kids.

  19. Aine

    Wow! This Is Mind Blowing.Thank You For Sharing It

  20. This is full of win. That is all.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s