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Girl Talk: Nosy Questions

Q: We adopted our daughter from China, and people often ask questions about her background (we're Caucasian). Is there a way to keep strangers from prying?

A: Welcome to parenthood, an exclusive clique in which members greet strangers as if they were friends. Don't worry: You're not being singled out only because your family is multicultural. Any mom could recite at least one question posed on the street that made her think "What the??" such as "Isn't your daughter too old for a pacifier?" or "He looks cold. Didn't you bring a sweater?"

In your family's case, the fact that your daughter doesn't look like you makes for an easy icebreaker, so you need to learn how to react. Remember, people who ask personal questions are often less interested in your baby than in themselves. For instance, when a person says, "Is she Chinese? I have a friend who just adopted from China," she might be thinking, "See? I can relate." Or she could just be a chatty person who thinks she's trading pleasantries, not prying.

Regardless of their motivation for asking, a short, sweet, and final comment like "She is American, but of Chinese ancestry" should end the questioning. If they persist, change the subject. Just make sure you don't think about it any longer than it takes to say it. Dwelling on it won't prevent questions, but it will prevent you from enjoying time with your baby—and nothing's worth that.