Yet despite the fact that most people know as many families that don’t fit the traditional notions as those who do, people often feel a need to be nosy and ask questions that are really none of their business. Such questions are invasive and generally shouldn’t be asked. If someone you meet volunteers information about their family structure and how it was created, then it’s obvious they are ok with talking about the subject, and it’s ok to ask reasonable questions. However, if they don’t bring it up, then it’s not fair game.
I’ve seen this with regard to families I know with non-heterosexual parents. When a lesbian couple announces one of them is pregnant, it’s pretty obvious that the conception didn’t happen in the “old fashioned” married heterosexual couple way. However, it’s no one’s business but theirs where they got the sperm from. Furthermore, despite what the legal paperwork may say in some states, they are both the mom regardless of who carried the child. I know one lesbian couple where each gestated one of their two children, but I can never remember which mom carried which child. And you know what? It doesn’t matter. They are both the moms. They both love and care for their kids, and that’s all that matters.
The same is true when it comes to adoption. In cases of interracial adoption, it’s sometimes quite obvious that the child isn’t the biological offspring of the parents, and yet it’s irrelevant. Unless they bring up the topic, it’s completely inappropriate to ask where or how they “got” their child.
In my own case, I found an enormous number of people, especially complete strangers, considered the topic of my twins’ conception to be a suitable topic for public conversation. Most people presume that twins are a result of fertility treatments, and they crudely ask if the twins are natural. All children are natural regardless of how they are conceived. If I was in an ornery mood when people would ask if the twins were a result of IVF or Clomid, I would reply no, that my then-husband and I just had too much sex. That usually shut them up pretty quickly, possibly because they began to realize other people’s sex lives really are none of their business.
I also had quite a few people make completely inappropriate remarks about my subsequent pregnancy after my twins. One person blatantly said to me, “Oops!” when I announced my pregnancy. Um, no. It was a planned pregnancy, and regardless if it was or wasn’t, that’s no one’s business but mine and my partner’s. Another person asked, “But why? You’ve already got one of each.” This is another foot-in-mouth comment not only because it ignores my deceased daughter in the equation, but it also functions on an erroneous presumption that the perfect family consists of one male and one female child.
All of this applies to families without children as well. It's nobody's business but theirs if and when couples decide to have children. People should not expect couples to have children at any given point. If couples or even individuals choose to do so, great. If not, then that's often a decision they've made with great thought, and it's the right decision for them. If it was a decision made because of infertility and not by choice, then the couple definitely doesn't need the pressure of others asking, "So when are you going to have a baby?" Once again, if, how and when a family decides to conceive is not a question that should be broached.
When someone joyfully announces they are pregnant, the best response is, “I’m happy for you” or “Congratulations!” When someone introduces you to their children, the best comments are along the lines of “What a beautiful family.” There’s no need to comment on who looks like whom or to ask how the family is formed. If a couple doesn't have children, that doesn't make them any less of a family. Just presume the family exists because of love, and that’s all the information you need.
© 2014 Green Heart Guidance