Q. What should I tell my adopted child to say when a curious friend innocently asks, "Why don't you look like your mom?"
A. There's not really a magic answer, says Stella Gilgur-Cook, assistant director of outreach for Spence-Chapin, a child welfare and adoption organization with an office in Hauppauge. Every internationally adopted child or child of a different race from the adoptive parents will sometime feel different and have to answer this type of question, she says. So the best thing to do is prepare the child for such interactions.
Parents should make the child feel like the whole family is different as a unit, Cook advises. Teach your child to respond this way: "We are an international family." Or: "We are an interracial family." He can explain that he is from China, for instance, and that he was born somewhere else but then became a part of his family.
Often, though, the answer might lead the curious child to ask follow-up questions. It's OK for your child to say, "That's personal." He doesn't have to answer every single question.
Make sure your child communicates to you if he's being asked a lot of questions from classmates. Organizations such as Spence-Chapin offer general adoption education workshops in schools. "It's a really cool way to take the pressure off one particular child," Cook says. Incidentally, November is National Adoption Month. For more information about this question and others, call Spence-Chapin at 631-979-5863.