Conversations on Adoption – Unwanted Advice

My boss was kind enough to surprise me and the other American copy editor at the newspaper with a Christmas lunch a couple of weeks ago. As usual, I get asked why I don’t have kids. The question “why don’t you have kids” is something I am asked almost daily in China. In China, it is a given that people who are married have a kid, usually within the first year of marriage. Anyone outside of this norm is weird, local or not.

Personally, I find the question “why don’t you have kids” invasive and downright offensive. It is no one’s business why I don’t have kids. And the actual reasons are complicated and rather painful, reasons I’m not going to share with strangers. Some of the reasons my own parents don’t know and I wouldn’t even tell my BFF. And don’t come at me with “oh, invasive questions are just Chinese culture.” Don’t care. It’s still rude and still very painful.

I replied with my usual, “Well, we are hoping to adopt here in China instead.” My boss replied with a whole bunch of unsolicited advice. “Oh, well adoption is very difficult.” “You know, it is so expensive.” “It can be very hard to raise an adopted child.”

I start tuning him out at this point and just nod because the only answer I want to give is “I KNOW!” But I can’t because he’s my boss and he is actually a really nice guy.

But I’m the one who has been on the adoption journey for more than a decade. I’m the one who moved to China to achieve this goal. I’m the one who works 4 jobs to make this happen. I’m the one who reads countless articles on adoption every single day. I don’t want or need adoption advice from someone who has never even considered it.

Unless you have adopted/ have been adopted and are asked for your advice, do not offer advice on adoption to adoptive families. This goes for people anywhere in the world. Even if you have adopted, the adoption process is different for every family and offering unasked for advice can actually cause more harm than good.

If you want to know more about adoption, feel free to ask questions. I’m sure many adoptive families are more than willing to share parts of their journey with you.

What about you? How do you deal with unsolicited advice? Not just on adoption, but parenting in general?