I'm going to step back for a moment from my usual essays and rants about autism and disability related topics, and I'm going to talk a bit about adoption. I'm a transnational adoptee. I was born in China and when I was still a baby, I was adopted by two white people from the United States where I live now. Due to the commonality of transnational adoptions, particularly from East Asian countries, most people in the United States who meet me when I'm with my parents will sooner or later make the connection that I'm adopted and not a biological child. And that's fine. It's the same as when strangers who notice other Autistics and I flapping together in a restaurant surmise that we're Autistic because of the commonality of flapping among Autistics. There's nothing inherently, egregiously wrong with this.
The other day I casually mentioned in a conversation that I was adopted. (It was relevant, for the record.) This was followed immediately thereafter by a barrage of questions about my "real" parents, and whether my sister (also adopted) is my "real" sister, and whether I ever think about my "real" parents or would want to find them or whether I know anything about them.
That is not okay.
If you are not in my circle of close friends, then you have no right whatsoever to ask me deeply personal and sometimes outright offensive questions.
My real parents are the people who raised me.
My real sister is the person who grew up in the same house as me.
Those people are my real family for all their positive attributes and all their negative attributes.
Suggesting that other people, who were essentially genetic donors and who have played absolutely no role in my life, ever, are my "real" parents is incredibly presumptuous, condescending, and insulting. The earliest record of my existence that I know of is not a birth certificate but a police report of a one or two day old abandoned baby. I don't think any reasonable person could consider the people who procreated and caused me to be born to be my "real parents."
My sister and I happen not to share any biological parents. That doesn't make her somehow not my "real" sister. There's a wealth of difference between calling someone a real family member and a biological relative. This word "real" brings with it value judgments and qualitative assessment. The word "biological" refers to objective, scientific fact. Besides, whose business is it anyway whether my sister and I share genetics or not?
This aside, it is incredibly invasive and presumptuous for strangers or even acquaintances to suddenly take it upon themselves to feel entitled to interrogate me about whether I know, think, feel, or want anything regarding my biological parents. The fact is that some adoptees do care very much (regardless of whether they know anything) and would like to find or meet their biological parents. And another fact, equally important, is that a great deal many more adoptees simply don't care.
I never, ever think about my biological parents except in the minutes immediately following another person asking vapid questions about them. It's simply not a part of my everyday life or a part of my experiences. And even were it so, it'd be infinitely more respectful of me to allow me to initiate that conversation, to allow me to discuss what I thought about the matter, and to give me the space and the time that I needed to feel comfortable doing that.
Learning that someone is adopted is not carte blanche to pepper that person with personal and invasive questions. Period. There is no right to extract deeply personal information from another person simply to satisfy one's own curiosity. In fact, this type of attitude strikes me as privileged, objectifying, and enfreaking.