Talking to Adoptive Parents – What Not To Say

One of the biggest frustrations in the adoption community is the fact that those who are not touched by adoption usually do not understand it. Families that are created by adoption are considered an oddity and often those who are not familiar will say things that can be hurtful, even when that is not their intention.

In this blog, I want to highlight some of the comments that many adoptive parents and their children hear on a regular basis. In the next blog, I will show you some positive things that you can say to an adoptive family.

Please keep in mind that we do realize that those who have said these things don’t mean to be unkind. They usually are just interested and don’t know what else to say. However, hopefully this blog and the next one will help you know some things that are better not to say and also some great comments to make to families formed by adoption.

“Now that you’ve adopted, you’ll get pregnant!”First of all, this statement is hurtful because it says that the adopted child is not what the child wanted – that somehow this child is second best. Secondly, there is absolutely no scientific evidence to back up this statement. Studies show that 5% of all couples who stop trying to conceive will become pregnant on their own. This has nothing to do with whether the couple is pursuing adoption or not. Finally, remember that there are many people who pursue adoption as their first choice. My husband and I are a perfect example of this. We did not go through years of infertility before deciding to adopt. Instead, we made the choice that we wanted a child and there were children who needed parents. What a great combination we make! Please just keep in mind that adoptive parents just want their decision to be accepted as what is best for them. Suggesting that they will become pregnant implies that there is something wrong with adoption.

“Are Those Your Real Children?”By using the word “real” you are saying that families formed by adoption are not real. Of course, all children are real and each one of them is loved and cherished equally by the adoptive parents.

“Which ones are yours?”Once a child is adopted, they belong in that family. If you say “which ones are yours” you are separating the adopted child from the rest of the family. Families that are built through adoption are just as much a family as any other.

“What happened to her real parents?”
First, this falls into the same category as the “real children” question. Of course the adopted parents are the child’s real parents. The child’s birth parents are also their real parents. Families are formed in so many different ways and each family is real whether there is one parent, two parents, four parents or more.