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April 25, 2014 6:07 AM   Subscribe

If you wouldn’t say it about a boob job . . . (a guide for adoption questions)
posted by ThePinkSuperhero (50 comments total) 22 users marked this as a favorite

 
I love his facial expressions during the examples. This is good stuff - thanks for posting it.
posted by jquinby at 6:14 AM on April 25


It's probably a good rule of thumb (rule of boob?) for life questions in general.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 6:15 AM on April 25 [4 favorites]


Indeed.

"Are they all yours?"

wat
posted by jquinby at 6:22 AM on April 25 [2 favorites]


I kept hoping his sweater would shift over so I could be delighted by a reference to the awesomeness that was Loverboy, an Arrested Development reference to that rockin' band, Motherboy, but then I saw "nderboy" which I really really hope is a reference to Tenacious D.

In any case, nice.
posted by kinetic at 6:41 AM on April 25


Great, but even some of the "corrected" questions are uncomfortable. I would never ask anyone if the child they were with was biologically theirs.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 6:41 AM on April 25 [10 favorites]


This should be shown as a PSA before the most popular show on TV.

I vote for a series like: A guide for cis people on how to speak to a trans* person and a A guide for men on how to talk to a woman you don't know.
posted by Sophie1 at 6:44 AM on April 25 [2 favorites]


Great, but even some of the "corrected" questions are uncomfortable. I would never ask anyone if the child they were with was biologically theirs.

That even fails his own test. Imagine if I were to ask a woman if her breasts were "biologically" hers. I can't imagine that would go over well.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 6:46 AM on April 25 [7 favorites]


That even fails his own test. Imagine if I were to ask a woman if her breasts were "biologically" hers. I can't imagine that would go over well.

As well as "where are your breasts from?"
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 6:50 AM on April 25 [2 favorites]


Do you make your boobs live under the stairs?
posted by biffa at 6:54 AM on April 25 [10 favorites]


[Comment deleted. Not even sure how this was meant, but "pick out the cutest redheaded orphan" is something that isn't at all great here if it's a joke, and needs more explanation if it isn't.]
posted by taz at 6:56 AM on April 25


Pick out the cutest redhead was from the video, taz. It's a reference to how adoption works in the musical Annie but doesn't actually work in the real world.

The problem with that video is that the people who say such awful things to parents and kids might also say rude, tactless things to people who'd had boob jobs. But other than that, it's great.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 7:07 AM on April 25 [3 favorites]


So I can't ask to hold them even if I've washed my hands?
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 7:08 AM on April 25 [3 favorites]


Outside of an established context of "we are talking about adoption" I don't see how either version of the questions in the video are cool to ask.
If someone presents their kids to you as their kids, why the need to get to the bottom of things and figure this riddle out.
If you're friends of the parents, then you already know their journey. And if you don't know the parents, you don't get an entitlement pass to ask questions about the origin of their kids, just because you're curious. Gross.
posted by chococat at 7:09 AM on April 25 [21 favorites]


Yeah, sorry, taz, the "pick out the cutest redheaded orphan" was how he described being asked "So did you get to pick her?" Which, I think in some countries, you do actually get to visit the orphanage and choose the kid you want to adopt. I think that's explicitly not how US adoption works, but I think other countries run it differently.

If someone presents their kids to you as their kids, why the need to get to the bottom of things and figure this riddle out.

Clearly you haven't watched enough House.
posted by corb at 7:10 AM on April 25 [2 favorites]


Do you make your boobs live under the stairs?

Do you think someday your boobs will want to meet their "real" chest?
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 7:12 AM on April 25 [12 favorites]


Frankly, I'm not sure I grant the operating premise that people in general "mean well, but don't have the language to express themselves." I think some people actually are at best inappropriately nosy and at worst deliberately cruel, even to the point of lording it over those who have had more trouble starting families than they have, and pathetically insecure to the point that they think popping out a couple kids makes them better people than those who haven't, and they need to insinuate that.
posted by aught at 7:13 AM on April 25 [4 favorites]


Frankly, I'm not sure I grant the operating premise that people in general "mean well, but don't have the language to express themselves."

I tend to agree, but approaching the conversation as though the other person means well but doesn't express it well is probably going to lead to better results than approaching it as though the other person is a dickhead who needs to be told they are a dickhead.
posted by Etrigan at 7:25 AM on April 25 [8 favorites]


Do you think someday your boobs will want to meet their "real" chest?

There are plenty of perfectly good boobs without a chest out there, why do you want boobs of your own?
posted by zombieflanders at 7:29 AM on April 25 [12 favorites]


Technically, you can pick out the (legal) orphan you want in the U.S. too with photolistings and adoption fairs....
posted by viggorlijah at 7:33 AM on April 25


A guide for men on how to talk to a woman you don't know: Don't.
posted by tommasz at 8:07 AM on April 25 [2 favorites]


"You're a pushy motherfucker gettin' all up in my grill over some shit that isn't directly your bizniss now, aren't ya?

"How about we fucking develop a relationship as people that maybe evolves to friends before you get to start demanding answers about how my family & I live our lives. Am I fucking walking around with an Interrogate me sign around my neck, or are you just the fucking pushy kind who thinks they're entitled to up & fucking demand answers from a complete fucking stranger?"
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 8:24 AM on April 25 [7 favorites]


What happens if a Lawfully Good Paladin encounters lots of orc boobs?
posted by pseudocode at 8:38 AM on April 25


"My wife got a boob job too! You should come over so the boobs can all play together sometime."
posted by Pater Aletheias at 8:40 AM on April 25 [9 favorites]


My rules are: Don't be overly intrusive and nosy, and don't be so thin-skinned.
posted by jeff-o-matic at 9:12 AM on April 25 [1 favorite]


"Are those your biological breasts?" seems like it might not fly, either.

We have two girls that we are currently in the process of adopting, so some of this definitely hits close to home.
posted by SpacemanStix at 9:18 AM on April 25 [1 favorite]


If you're friends of the parents, then you already know their journey. And if you don't know the parents, you don't get an entitlement pass to ask questions about the origin of their kids, just because you're curious. Gross.

But what if you're friends with the parents but on some level that doesn't involve the kids and yet you still find yourself curious? I think it's reasonable to try to come up with language that can foster that kind of conversation without being rude/nosy/offensive.
posted by sparklemotion at 9:24 AM on April 25 [1 favorite]


I think it's reasonable to try to come up with language that can foster that kind of conversation without being rude/nosy/offensive.


sparklemotion,
I think there's a good, if very dull, general rule here, that if you ever feel the need to preface a question with "I don't want to be rude or nosy or offensive, but..." then you likely are being rude and/or nosy and/or offensive...

Sometimes it's impossible satisfy our "rude" curiosity politely.
posted by Jody Tresidder at 9:35 AM on April 25 [5 favorites]


We have two girls that we are currently in the process of adopting

Wait, is this some kind of code? Are you saying that your wife is getting some new "girls"?
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 9:35 AM on April 25 [1 favorite]


Sometimes it's impossible satisfy our "rude" curiosity politely.

But this adoptive parent is telling us that he welcomes appropriate questions. It seems strange to completely discount his desires and assume that No Questions Ever is the way to go.
posted by sparklemotion at 9:52 AM on April 25 [1 favorite]


But what if you're friends with the parents but on some level that doesn't involve the kids and yet you still find yourself curious? I think it's reasonable to try to come up with language that can foster that kind of conversation without being rude/nosy/offensive.

I think that asking (some) of these questions is okay over the course of a conversation that starts with, "So, I'm giving serious thought to adopting a child, and I've already done a lot of research, but I was wondering whether you had any advice."

But not just right out of thin air just for the sake of curiosity. There's lots of things we're all curious about that we don't ask each other. That's just society.
posted by Etrigan at 9:58 AM on April 25 [2 favorites]


I have social anxiety, and I want really clear rules about this kind of thing so that I don't have to obsess about whether I'm being rude and obnoxious. But the sad fact is that this is one of those issues on which there aren't clear-cut rules. You have to gauge your relationship with a person and their openness to talking about personal stuff and then figure out whether it's ok to ask a particular question, assuming you're not asking it in a patently obnoxious way. And if, like me, you're not so good at gauging those things, then it's probably best to err on the side of not asking.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 10:04 AM on April 25 [1 favorite]


But what if you're friends with the parents but on some level that doesn't involve the kids and yet you still find yourself curious? I think it's reasonable to try to come up with language that can foster that kind of conversation without being rude/nosy/offensive.

Then you start with something like, "I am really curious about the process of building your family. I know lots of people ask super insensitive questions. I don't want to be that guy."

Continue with one of the following: posted by bilabial at 10:12 AM on April 25 [10 favorites]


So I can't ask to hold them even if I've washed my hands?

Sorry, I think you've wandered into the wrong thread. Try this one on for size, it may fit better.
posted by scalefree at 11:19 AM on April 25


If the person asking you these incredibly intrusive questions is a complete and total stranger to you, your only response should be "Do I know you?" Otherwise, Bilabial's approach is not only appropriate, but very thoughtful and would probably lead to some wonderful conversations. Source: I'm adopted and a birth mother.
posted by Kokopuff at 11:52 AM on April 25 [3 favorites]


Maybe people just shut their pie-holes and exist in the fucking ambiguity.

By the time you're close enough to the family in question, it'll probably come up from their end at some point.

Otherwise, just zip-it & mind your fucking beeswax.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 12:33 PM on April 25 [4 favorites]


Frankly, I'm not sure I grant the operating premise that people in general "mean well, but don't have the language to express themselves." I think some people actually are at best inappropriately nosy and at worst deliberately cruel

The video is obviously only aimed at well-meaning ignorant people because no video is gonna fix the cruel and nosy ones.
posted by straight at 12:39 PM on April 25


Not adoption, but related to overly-personal questions about creating a family...

I like answering people's rude questions about our (lesbian couple's) conception process with inappropriate amounts of detail. "How did we 'get' our son? Well, first I called donor and said 'It's go time! Masturbate!' He would then jack off in his bathroom and give us a little plastic cup of warm semen. We would drive home with the semen cup tucked under my armpit to keep it warm. And then..." Blah blah blah

Strangely, that's not actually different from how we answer the question when asked by friends and family. :) i
posted by arcticwoman at 12:48 PM on April 25 [4 favorites]


Metafilter: just zip-it & mind your fucking beeswax.
posted by jquinby at 1:14 PM on April 25 [1 favorite]


If you're friends of the parents, then you already know their journey. And if you don't know the parents, you don't get an entitlement pass to ask questions about the origin of their kids, just because you're curious.

This is how I feel about a lot of things, actually. For instance, if I meet someone with a visible disability, I'm always curious—I think that curiosity is a very natural thing. But I figure that if this person and I don't become friends, I don't need to know their story. And if we do, eventually they'll probably tell me.

That said, I have a kid who is obviously adopted for reasons of race. And his adoption is not something I mind talking about. I like what I call "Good Faith Questions," which are open-ended questions asking neutrally for information, not implicitly judging. For instance, "don't you worry that an adopted baby might have...problems?" isn't a good-faith question; just about any question that begins "don't you think," or "don't you worry" is actually the person's own bias gussied up as a fake question. I liked that the video modeled good faith questions, like, "how does the adoption process work?"

Some other examples:

Bad faith question: "Didn't you feel like you should adopt a needy child from foster care?"
Good faith question: "Why did you decide to pursue infant adoption?"

Bad faith question: "How much did the baby cost?"
Good faith question: "I've heard that the adoption process can be quite expensive. Was that your experience?"

Bad faith question: "Weren't you concerned that it was unethical to adopt a black child into a white family?"
Good faith question: "I'd be interested to hear your thoughts about transracial adoption, and your experiences with it."

Also, you can turn a question that starts, "I don't mean to be rude, but..." into a more good-faith type of question by introducing it with something like, "I understand if this feels too personal for you to talk about it, but if it's not I'd be curious to hear about how you decided to pursue adoption."

Almost any question, however ill-formed, can be redeemed by not pushing when an answer isn't forthcoming. If I say, "I'm not comfortable talking about that," or "our son has asked us to keep information about his birthparents private," or some such, and you answer, "Of course! It sure was nice to meet your family, though," or "I understand! There are some things I don't talk about either," then we're golden.

arcticwoman, our two older kids are biological, conceived with donor sperm. Not long after the second was born, an acquaintance asked me, "Do they both have the same father?" I said, "Of course they do, [name of male partner] is their father." But I was so tempted to say, "Well, I went back to the same bar, but of course I was very drunk the first time and never really got a good look at his face, so...."

I like your armpit detail! We used sperm from a bank and inseminated in the doctor's office. When the doctor was ready to squirt the sample in, the nurse would reach into her bra and pull the vial out from where she'd been keeping it warm between her breasts. It is a detail that made the whole thing feel a little more human and less clinical.
posted by not that girl at 1:36 PM on April 25 [13 favorites]


Maybe people just shut their pie-holes and exist in the fucking ambiguity.

By the time you're close enough to the family in question, it'll probably come up from their end at some point.

Otherwise, just zip-it & mind your fucking beeswax.


This actually is the best answer, I think. There is generally no good answer to why the question has to be asked right now that doesn't make the asker look like they are missing something important in their social development (like patience and deference to others).

What tends to bother me about questions like this is not that it was asked (as I can usually discern intent just fine, and that's what matters to me), but it betrays a lack of social appropriateness such that makes their impatience to satisfy their curiosity the most important thing, much more important that the comfort of other people. You make friends with people in ways that allow for appropriate boundaries, and these sorts of questions tend to get answered. But nope, I need to know right now. It just come across as selfish, and pretty much the opposite of being comfortable in one's own skin.
posted by SpacemanStix at 1:38 PM on April 25 [5 favorites]


I am not really sure which group bothers me most: 1) the insensitive, or 2) the easily offended. People need to just lighten up on all counts IMHO.
posted by HyperBlue at 3:00 PM on April 25 [1 favorite]


People need to just lighten up on all counts IMHO.

Usually when parents get irritated, though, it isn't on their own behalf, but on behalf of their children. There's nothing that makes a prospective adoptive child feel more "othered" than to have invasive questions that make it very clear that something is out of the ordinary that makes them look strange, compared to a biological child, in the eyes of others. You can have conversations about some of these things, but some questions just really do feel as if they are designed to make children feel like they are something other than a legitimate member of the family, and it can be another heartbreak in a long line of difficult barriers to giving a child a permanent place to feel legitimately loved. It's hard to lighten up on those things, although you can definitely do your best to take it in stride.
posted by SpacemanStix at 3:05 PM on April 25 [2 favorites]


not really sure which group bothers me most: ...

2) the easily offended.


Welcome to the club of people who care about things. Although getting irritated at people who get irritated does feel like it should be a protected status at times (and I can honestly relate).
posted by SpacemanStix at 3:19 PM on April 25


You know, as a woman who has had two very difficult pregnancies and deliveries, I for one would appreciate it if people in the community would stop throwing around the phrase "popping out a couple of kids" to make their points. Thanks.
posted by alltomorrowsparties at 3:22 PM on April 25 [3 favorites]


So, what you are saying is that if it is okay to play with a strange child, it is okay to play with strange boobs, right?
posted by Samizdata at 4:22 PM on April 25


If the person asking you these incredibly intrusive questions is a complete and total stranger to you, your only response should be "Do I know you?"

The more passive aggressive version is something like "I'm sorry, but I've completely forgotten your name! Where did we meet again?"
posted by the agents of KAOS at 4:34 PM on April 25 [1 favorite]


> I would never ask anyone if the child they were with was biologically theirs

That's a good policy. Over my past decade-and-change of being a mother and hanging out with other moms, I've learned that a really really really big percentage of my friends' kids are biologically related to only one, or neither, of the parents.
posted by The corpse in the library at 9:27 PM on April 26


Our soon-to-be-adopted kids look different enough to prompt questions. My wife and I often joke that the next time someone asks, we'll just tell them that they all come from different dads. (We'll leave out that they also come form different moms.)

There are so many mixed families these days for reasons besides adoption that I'm surprised that alone doesn't suggest possible answers for the diversity that prompts the questions.
posted by SpacemanStix at 10:05 PM on April 26


As small children, my siblings and I had different hair color- one brunette, one redhead, one blonde. My Mom got asked all the time at the PX if we were all hers (yes), and at least once was asked if we all had the same father (yes). Ya, stranger in the soda aisle, let me tell you all about it!
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 6:08 PM on April 27


The Lost Daughters had a roundtable discussion on this that is the giant missing piece to the discussion above - boobs aren't human beings. And this video again positions adoptive parents at the centre. The adoptive parents say "Oh, we're protecting our kids", but if they meant that, why doesn't this video involve adult adoptees? Or talk about what these comments mean to the kids first, the adoptive parents last?

The series of photographs a mom made with her two daughters, adopted from China and one with a visible physical challenge, were much stronger and more direct about this kind of social navigation forced on adoptees, especially adoptees who are visibly different from their adopted family.

The video bugs me because it goes for cute and quick - "don't say this, say that!" - rather than challenging the general shittiness under the remarks, including the adoptive parents who are putting their own discomfort ahead of pushing back WITH adoptees.
posted by viggorlijah at 7:39 PM on April 27


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