The Questions I Asked About Adoption I Now Answer

I welcome all adoption related questions.  I love to talk about our process with anyone that is interested.

I’m asked two questions most frequently:

  1. How much did the process cost?
  2. Why did you adopt?

These questions are perfectly acceptable – I welcome them with two caveats for the person asking.

First, I’m less comfortable openly replying when my son is nearby.  If Yosef is around, I typically cut the answer short.  I don’t do this to hide anything from him.  Rather, I feel like the “cost” question objectifies my kid too directly.

There should never be a time when he feels like a product of an internet search for children in need of a loving home.  The first caveat, for me, is that I’ll be more open if my kid isn’t listening.

Next, be aware that my answers might be different based on my relationship with the person asking.  I am generally authentic but talking about either question might be too personal or uncomfortable for anyone other than close friends and family.

Over the past nine years, I’ve learned to quickly diagnose the motive behind the questions.  Once I do that, my answer will follow quickly.

I have coined this quality as my “Adoption Antenna.”  If my antenna signals that I’m being asked these questions out of genuine curiosity, I’ll typically shoot fairly straight and provide as much detail as necessary.  If the question is a half-hearted and likely to end with the suggestion that we “did such a great thing” for Yosef, I will politely share less.  Never forget that I am the lucky one, not Yosef.

Now that I’ve established the ground rules, I’ll answer the questions I started with:

How much did it cost?

I typically say that pursuing an adoption takes an unbelievable commitment both emotionally and financially.  The process will cost thousands of dollars.  Costs will differ depending on many factors – the country selected, general health conditions, time-frame expected, travel requirements and agency differences.

The process will take intense emotional and financial planning but don’t be discouraged.  Don’t quit before starting.  There are resources available to help – just look.

Whether it be a google search, networking with families impacted by adoption or calling a local agency directly, I encourage anyone interested to seek out readily available information.  If I was able to trudge through the process successfully, I will assure you that anyone can.

Why did you adopt?

If this question is asked, the person asking should be prepared for anything.  This question is deeply personal.  The answer is different for all families.

For my family, the reason for adopting was simple – we wanted to.  We adopted Yosef at the perfect time for us – the point at which our desire to adopt from Africa, our wish to start a family and our access to resources to make the process possible intersected.  My answer to this question is simple but for many others it might not be.

The unfortunate reality of many adoption processes is that they result from a loss of some kind.  That fact makes asking this question a slippery slope.  Don’t allow the assumed loss to prevent the question from being asked – just be sensitive to whatever answer comes.  That response could very well be, “I’d prefer not to say.”

The motivations for adoption are different for every family and the candor in talking about that decision is subjective.

No matter the responses that I give to these common questions, do not be bashful of asking if you’re curious.  In fact, I hope to be asked more about our process.  Each answer brings others closer to the reward for the arduous journey – a great family.

My family was created as a result of having asked similar questions nearly ten years ago.

Answering genuinely asked questions in the appropriate company is my way of “paying it forward.”



    • Tobin Walsh


      I get that one a lot as well. That is another interesting questions where I evaluate the ask before answering. I think there is a common perception that entering an international process is a shunning of a domestic process.

      For my family, we never looked at a domestic process because we had our hearts set on Africa.

      I would think that a domestic adoptions would add a layer of local complexity that my process would not have to worry about. I’m not sure what I’d do if there was a possibility for Yosef to be in contact with his birth family at a grocery store (or wherever). Like most issues I write about, there is good and bad to that.

      Thanks for sharing….I’d enjoy hearing about how you might react when asked.

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