Q: "If one more person asks me in front of my children where they come from or whose they are or where did we adopt them from, I'm going to explode. What's the best way to deal with these very annoying questions?" -Baby Makes Three
A: While probably well-meaning, these kinds of questions can be annoying and belie a lack of understanding and sensitivity. Frankly, they're also an invasion of a family's privacy. Although millions of gay and lesbian households with kids now exist, this phenomenon is still, well, a phenomenon and by that I mean something new and remarkable. Because our straight friends, coworkers and family members understand that biologically same-sex couples cannot reproduce (without the use of 21st-century technologies), they're puzzled and even curious about our progeny. Understand that to start.
So, what to say? Whose children are they? "They are ours." You are the child's parent (or one of them). Where did they come from? "They come from the same place all children come from." And then smile. If you still find yourself pressed, feel free to invoke your zone of privacy and say simply, "That's really a family matter, but thank you for caring."
In the case of adoption, it's also important to use the right language. Your son (or daughter) was born to his (or her) "birth mother" or "biological parents" - not "natural" or "real" parents. Even if, in fact, you did adopt the child, you should say plainly, "I'm his parent by adoption" rather than "adoptive parent," which sounds like a qualified or second-rate kind of mom or dad.
Finally, remember not to share too much information about your little one. Alas, not everyone (straight or gay) is as interested in your kid as you are.
Note for straights: Don't let your curiosity get the better of you. You don't like it when you're on the receiving end, do you?
Visit Steven Petrow on the Web at www.gayandlesbianmanners.com