"How much did they sell her for?"

April 5, 2010 DonnaT 9 Comments

I originally posted this on my blog one month after returning home from China with our first daughter – almost 5 years ago. We’ve heard a few variations of this question over the years and even though we get better at answering the questions, we never really get used to them.


I went to Walmart yesterday and found $200 worth of things I didn’t even know I needed. However, there was no charge for the amusing conversation I had with the cashier (Socorro) who noticed right away that Gwen was Chinese.

I had a bit of trouble understanding her because of her very heavy accent but she was chatty and seemed proud that she was able to guess that Gwen wasn’t my daughter.

I explained that she *is* my daughter and happily added that she was adopted from China just a few weeks ago. She paused her scanning duties briefly and looked me straight in the eye and asked me with great curiosity how much the Chinese people sold her to me for.

I should point out that she wasn’t hostile with her questions. Even so, I was a little bit taken aback. Maybe she just assumed there was a market for Chinese babies and, somehow, the birth mothers of these children benefited financially from the transaction. She probably couldn’t imagine any other motive for a mother to give up her baby. It’s not unusual that she thought this so I (nicely) set her straight.

Truth is, Gwendolyn cost less than the hospital bill for my bio son’s birth 17 years ago.

I explained that most of the adoption expenses were for fees here in the United States and airfare and government fees in China. The orphanage got some of the money (which helps improve the quality of life for the other orphans) but the birth mother would never be identified and she gets nothing. I spoke, briefly, of the one child policy and the difficult choice the birth family probably faced.

Everyone in line behind me seemed keenly interested in our discussion. They all thought Gwen was adorable and they were shocked that she’s only been in our family for 5 weeks since she looks so comfortable with me. I enjoyed this opportunity to be an Ambassador to China-Adoption and clear up some pretty big misconceptions!

9 responses to “"How much did they sell her for?"”

  1. sunshower says:

    Thanks for sharing this. truly inspiring.

  2. TanyaLea says:

    I'm honestly still amazed everytime I hear a story like this. I understand that not everyone has the same 'boundaries' and sometimes they were just raised differently…but STILL! We haven't even brought our Khloe home yet, and my daughter Breanna has already heard the question/comment in her high school …"Do you know how much she cost!?!" I'm not sure if that is a genuine comment or a rude statement, but it's a hard one for me to accept. I know we will be faced by these things, so I do appreciate posts like yours. Maybe I will be better prepared to 'graciously' answer like you did. In any case, I just wish people had more cooth!

  3. Donna says:

    Tanyalea, the comments from most people are really nice about 98 percent of the time. But sometimes they're not very well thought out. One checker at Sears asked me "Does she get her face from her father?" I have to confess that I didn't have a comeback ready for that one!

    Mostly, people are just curious and don't mean to be offensive or rude. It's OBVIOUS that she's adopted so it seems (to some) like there are no questions that are off limits.

    Our Blog: Double Happiness!

  4. radchick24 says:

    I would say, "they sold her to me for all the LOVE in the world!!" then they know that you love her and that you are her mother!!

  5. Ellie says:

    We have had the "how much did she cost?" question a few times however here in Australia most people are just jealous that we can adopt so much more easily through the US system. I'm with you in that I like to take every chance I can get to educate and be an ambassador for adoption 🙂 Great post!

  6. Laurie says:

    The problem is that child trafficking is a very plausable reason why some children have been available for adoption in China. News of such trafficking is something that has made it's way into the Chinese and Western media. So… my point is, that we will probably face these questions more in the future (sadly).

    In light of answering insensitive questions, I thought I'd share a 'cute' story about my own two kids (both adopted from China).

    We were recently at McDonald's and a woman (stranger) blurted out, "So, are they REAL brother and sister?" To which I responded, "Of course they are!" After getting home, I asked my 6 year old daughter how she thought she might like to answer that particular question — should it be asked directly of her. Here's her take on it:

    Stranger: "So, is he your REAL brother?"
    My daughter: "No, he's my pet monkey."

    Silly questions deserve silly answers.
    In Canada

  7. Donna says:

    "No, he's my pet monkey."

    I love that!

    The question I hate most of all is "are they real sisters". My five year old girls don't understand biology so it must confuse them to hear me tell strangers that they aren't "real" sisters. I refuse to do it so I just say "They are now!"

    Our Blog: Double Happiness!

  8. Laurie says:

    The cutest one I've heard about two sisters went like this:

    Stranger: "So, are they REAL sisters?"
    Mom: [kept silent]
    Daughter #2 age 4 (laughing hystarically): "No, we're BROTHERS!"

    Enough said! LOL.

  9. Donna says:

    That's cute, Laurie!

    By the way, the comment count under the main post says there are nine comments but only 6 are visible when you click the link. I've not deleted anything so I'm not sure where the other three comments are.

    Our Blog: Double Happiness!

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