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Are they biological siblings?

We have 2 children, 2 years apart in age, and both were adopted from Africa.

Now that they are school age (1st and 3rd grades), we are frequently running into the question of whether they are biologically related whenever we meet new families at their school, in sports, in the neighborhood, etc.

My wife and I feel that this question is rather intrusive and personal. Are we being too sensitive?

As these are parents of our kids’ friends and we’re likely to continue to meet them in various community venues, what is a good way to deflect this question without coming across as too defensive or too combative? No one would ever think to ask another family if their kids were biologically related, or how they were conceived, or how they were birthed etc.

Thank you for any thoughts or suggestions.


What do you tell your boys?
I am a white parent with a black spouse and we have 3 black children, 2 of which we adopted from US foster care. Ppl already know when they hear them calling me Mommy that we don’t ‘match’ therefore there’s a more interesting story to be told.
Africa is a big continent with many countries. So where did you adopt them from? If they come from different countries, and you tell the other parents that, they won’t need to ask about the blood relation (unless they are idiots & don’t get a response then anyway lol).
If they come from the same country (vs. Continent) then you’ll need to be more specific… like u adopted @ different times from the same country and yes they are brothers.
They don’t need to know if they’re bio or not. They just are curious. You may be the only family they know like yours. And by default we are put in positions to educate.
Bottom line is though, if you feel it’s none of their business and/or questioning is intrusive/bad timing, simply say that you prefer not to discuss it. They are brothers in every way it counts, they are our sons, we are a family. Done.
Their speculation and miffed attitude is their problem NOT yours.

Posted by 2Mommas on Jun 30, 2017 at 3:03pm

You can always say I don’t know but they are brothers now. They may be curious if you adopted a sibling group.

Another popular reply is That is their story to tell when they are older.

I think people are just interested.

Posted by Regina on Jun 30, 2017 at 3:43pm

You can say, yes, yes they are brothers.  they are my sons. And smile. They will look confused and repeat thier question by saying, no are they REAL brothers. To which you say, well I beleive they are real, pinch one, pinch yourself, yep, we’re real, then laugh. Look at them with a smile, ready for the next question, like dead in the eye. If they continue you say, ohh are you interested in adopting? I’m more than willing to talk on the phone about any questions you have if you want some privacy? You know they are not interested in adoption, but who cares, it wakes them up to intrusive questions asked in front of children. Your children don’t need to hear that conversation each time you meet new people. It’s a way of making people more aware of thier behaviour in public. Always smile, even reach out and rub thier arm while saying it. If they seriously have bad social skills as to ask again. I would write my phone number down and say, please call me, that would. Be a more appropriate time to ask me questions. Sometimes I like to say. What do you think? Let them answer, then say, hmm, interesting, maybe, then continue with what you were doing before.

Posted by freckle face mama on Jun 30, 2017 at 4:27pm

I am curious to see what others would say. I completely understand the annoyance of this question and personally do not want to have to “educate” people all the time. I don’t want my kids to be the adoption example.

That said, with that particular question I would probably just answer it. It’s a question they will more than likely get themselves soon enough. If they were born in different countries I feel that that’s bound to come out (and should due to them hopefully having pride in their birth country).
You could always just say something like, “biology doesn’t define brotherhood” if you would prefer not to answer that question though. And maybe throw in a funny little comment to soften the statement if you want - such as “they love and fight like any brothers I’ve ever seen”

Btw, I didn’t see you reference them both as being boys but that’s the direction the convo went so I’m going along. 🙂

I am not an advocate for sharing too much of our kids’ info so I certainly wouldn’t answer much more but if they simply wanted to know birth countries/if they are biologically related I would probably answer it.
And if you decide to answer it definitely have a plan as to what you’ll say if they see that as an invitation to ask more questions. 😡

I’m glad you brought this question up!

Posted by momma21 on Jul 01, 2017 at 1:27am

Thanks everyone for your comments.
Additional info: we have a girl and a boy, both from the same country, adopted at different times.
The kids know that they have different biological parents.
Sometimes, it’s hard to have to be the “educator” all the time…

Posted by dr on Jul 01, 2017 at 7:48pm

I don’t have a good answer for this one..  interested to read how others deal with it.  We have two biological kids (11 and 7) and two adopted kids (9 and 7).  Our two adopted kids are siblings, both are from Korea.  My wife is also Korean, I’m white so we confuse a lot of people.  Especially as my youngest two are 4 months apart and not twins.  When we get the questions, sometimes I just say they are twins… as It’s the easiest response.  Other times we say they are 4 months apart which either ends the discussion or leads into a lengthy set of questions.

Posted by shw104 on Jul 02, 2017 at 12:49am

My answer to the “are they siblings ” question is always, “well, they are now.”  Our situation is a little more complicated because two of our children are bio half-siblings, all three adopted domestically at birth.  Many people know that two of our kids are biologically related, although if I had it to do over again I would have kept that info more private. 

Agree it is an intrusive question, but your kids know that they are not biologically related, so if the question happens in front of them, your first duty is to your kids.  Depending on who is asking, “they are now” may be enough.  If it is someone who will be around your kids frequently, (neighbor, friend, friend’s parent) then you might as well give a brief back story like “no, they were adopted separately from (country)”. I normally say something about how awesome my kids are and then change the subject.

Posted by jszmom on Jul 03, 2017 at 1:24am

Thank you everyone for your thoughtful responses.

Posted by dr on Jul 05, 2017 at 2:09pm

I am the single mother of 2 daughters, both from Korea (and now 2 wonderful sons{in-law} and 9 super grandchildren).  My answer to all of the “real” questions was always, “Yes!”  No matter what happened before I got them, and that is no one else’s business, they sure are “REAL” now!... “REAL” daughters, “REAL” sisters, “REAL” everything!

Then, if there was a reason for the questioner (medical, school, adoptive parent with a valid question, etc.) to know, I explained…

Posted by yehudis on Jul 07, 2017 at 2:29pm

Our first adoption was from Korea.

One day I was in a mall, waiting for my wife to join us, while my daughter was running around the small waiting area. A woman came up to me and asked if she was my daughter, I said yes.

The next thing she said would probably have floored most people. She asked, “How much did she cost?”.

I just laughed, and asked her, “You’re thinking of adopting, aren’t you?”.

The answer was yes and we had a nice talk. I did answer her questions, then again, I had good experience. My wife and I had joined an adoptive family support group so we were used to just about every question you can come up with.

Try to be calm, and deal with it in a non-hostile manner. A good answer is, “They are brothers (siblings) now”.

Be sure to ask if they are thinking of adopting. Often they will be connected to someone who is if they are not themselves. In a case like that it could well be a relevant question.

Be circumspect with the just curious, be helpful to the prospective adoptive parents.

Posted by Bob Klahn on Jul 16, 2017 at 5:23pm


You are right, sometimes people ask the wrong questions not to be intrusive, but because they are clearly interested in adoption for themselves or someone else.  Often you can figure that out, sometimes you can’t or you don’t have the time nor energy to deal with it.  I have had people want to get into an in-depth conversation when I am trying to drag my kid having a tantrum from the building—so not helpful!  But I agree with the advice to try and determine the context before becoming offended.

Posted by jszmom on Jul 21, 2017 at 1:35pm

I hate to say it but when I just read this post, My first thought was, “Oh Thank Goodness there are other people dealing with the same thing!”

Our children just turned 4 and 6. They are both half African American and have different birth parents. I get asked all the time, “They are so cute, are they twins?”

I want to shout, “Twins??!!!, they are 4 and 6! and one is super tall and built completely different than his brother.” I have to say that I want to look them in the eye and say, “no, they are just black and not all black people look the same.”

However, I did a lot of inward searching on this one and came to the conclusion of just being honest and using it as an opportunity to educate people on their ignorance. At first I thought is was just being in Northeast Pa in a small community, but we have heard this same question when traveling to another country.

I usually say calmly, “No, they are 4 and 6.” If I get more questions, I usually take the time to politely educate the person. However, as my boys are now getting older, I like what someone said about saying, that is there story to tell or if you have questions I would rather you ask them in private and here is my number.

Unfortunately this is still the world we live in and this is why I turn to places like here for words of wisdom, support, and to feel I am not alone in this journey.

Posted by DrCindy on Jan 20, 2018 at 8:06pm

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