Ten Things NOT to Say to Adoptive Parents.

A few days ago my 10 months pregnant friend at The Measured Mom posted a great list of things NOT to say to a pregnant woman, and politely suggest some alternatives.  I laughed out loud reading some of them, remembering how many of them were said to me — and, shamefully, how many I have said to my pregnant friends, since I have forgotten what it’s like to walk around with another human being inside of you!

When I’m with my fellow adoptive girlfriends, you will often hear us say, “Oh, you won’t believe this one!” as we share the latest offensive thing someone has said to us. But just as I’ve been guilty of saying, “You look like you’re ready to pop!” to my overdue pregnant friends without meaning to make them feel worse simply because I’ve only been pregnant once and have forgotten all about it, other well-meaning people say some of the things on this list simply because they’ve never adopted and don’t know what else to say…or not say.

So I collaborated with some other adoptive parents to come up with this following list:

tenthings

1. “Now you’ll get pregnant!”

Perhaps your friend is adopting because of infertility, but adoption is not a fertility treatment — and your friend is most certainly not adopting because she thinks, “THIS will do the trick!” When you say this, it can also make your friend feel as though you’re not excited about her adoption and view it as a “second choice”.

2. “He’s so lucky!”

Adopted kids are anything but lucky. They have experienced the loss of a first family and perhaps even the loss of their birth country and language. These kids don’t feel “lucky” to come to America — they are grieving the loss of their home and everything that is familiar. When you say this, it glosses over that loss.

3. “How much did he cost?”

Our child is not a car. If you really need to know this, Google it.

4. “Can’t you just go and pick him up?”

Umm…no. Because that would be kidnapping.

I once saw someone make this comment when a girlfriend shared a post on Facebook about how much she was aching to hold her daughter in Congo. It took every ounce of self-restraint I had not to comment and say, “Because she wants her daughter to languish in an orphanage just a little while longer.” Adoptions are a complicated business and they take time, and it’s not because we adoptive parents aren’t doing everything in our power to move things along.

5. “We’ve always wanted to adopt. But first we are going to have a few of our own.”

Along these same lines are “Do you have any real kids?” or “Is your daughter your own, or is she adopted, too?” If you must differentiate between kids who are adopted and not adopted, terms such as “biological” or “birth children” are the ones to use. When you distinguish our bio kids by calling them “your own” or “the real kids”, then you make it seem as though the adopted child is not truly part of our family.

6. “Why didn’t you adopt from America? There’s plenty of kids here that need homes.”

Yes, this is true — but we are not obligated to only adopt from our own country. Should children from Ukraine/China/Ethiopia/Congo/etc. be disqualified simply because they aren’t from here (and have no one available in their birth country to parent them)? Adoption from ANYWHERE should be celebrated.

7. “Don’t adopt from Ukraine. My neighbor’s second cousin’s uncle did, and their kids were totally messed up from Fetal Alcohol Syndrome.”

What I mean by this is, when someone tells you she’s adopting, don’t share with her your adoption horror stories. Adoptive parents are required to go through adoption training. They are well aware of the challenges they may face and don’t need you to point them out.

8. “I totally know what you’re going through. I adopted a dog once.”

It’s not the same. I promise.

9. “What happened to his real mom?”

 I’m his real mom. A better way to distinguish me from his first mom is to use the term “birth mom”, because when you say it this way it demeans the importance of my role in my child’s life. And unless you are close friends with the person you’re asking this to, it’s best to respect the privacy of their child’s story and not even go there. You wouldn’t really approach a perfect stranger and ask her to share the details of her labor, would you?

10. “Are you worried he is going to have HIV/be retarded/be messed up?” and/or “Are you worried he will be black?” 

These are all things that have been said to my friends or myself. For real. I hope I don’t have to explain to you why they are offensive.

But let’s end positively, shall we? Here’s a few things to try instead…

1. “You are so lucky to have him.”

An older lady once said this to me at the coop, and I promptly turned into a blubbering mess because I truly did feel grateful to have him. I so appreciated how she acknowledged that HE is the gift.

2. “Tell me about your son.”

Adoptive parents are dying to talk to you about the child they’re expecting. They want to tell you about the nursery/bedroom they’re getting ready and show you the latest picture. But we don’t get to do that very often because we don’t have bulging bellies that give us away. And sometimes, people feel awkward around us so they don’t ask us about our kids. Ask us!  We are proud parents, and we want to tell you why!

3. “I’m throwing you a shower.”

Baby showers aren’t just for moms who are giving birth — or even for families who are adopting newborns. Adoption is STRESSFUL in SO MANY INEXPLICABLE WAYS. Give your friend the chance to celebrate and feel like the expecting mom that she is! 

4. “You are all in my prayers.”

This old stand by is a good one. Adoptive children are dealing with grief and trauma, people. Our families need your prayers to heal from this!

5. “You are doing a great job.”

Adoptive parents often feel guilty and beat themselves up. Parenting techniques that worked with our bio kids may not work for our adoptive kids, and there may be days where we feel as though we are complete failures. I’ve had to come to terms with a lot of my own baggage and imperfections and accept that I’m not always in control in BIG WAYS since becoming an adoptive mm. I can’t tell you how much it means to me when a friend says something along the lines of, “You’re doing such a wonderful job.” or “I can tell how much he loves you.”

6. “I’m bringing you dinner.

This may be overlooked because your friend is adopting a five-year-old and it’s not as though she just delivered a baby. But….YOUR FRIEND IS ADOPTING A FIVE-YEAR-OLD. Whether or not her family is growing by one newborn or one teenager, her family is growing and it is going to be chaotic for her. So bring her dinner.

7. “Congratulations!”

We’re excited and it means a lot to us when you recognize that.

Okay, adoptive parents — what did I miss? Is there anything that was jaw-droppingly offensive that someone said to you OR something someone said that really made your day? Share it in the comments!

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Comments

  1. Since I have four kids with one adopted I’ve been teased that his ‘ labor ‘ was the easiest. Nothing could be further from the truth. His was the longest and heartbreaking. He was born on mothers day but his birth dad felt it necessary to manipulate birth mother for three months before he decided to be ready to sign papers. Not to mention the fact that I was totally caught of guard after meeting with his birth mom for the first time and going away thinking: who was I to think I was the one to be trusted to raise him how she wanted him to be but couldn’t give to him herself?
    And my mother in law constantly asks me how his mom is (since we are in contact with his birth mom often). I always tell her I’m fine.

  2. Chauna Ellis says:

    One thing I would add is don’t assume as to the way in which it where the child was adopted from. My daughter came from the foster system not private, not international. We went through hell on earth for years to get her. Just don’t assume.

  3. Amen, sister! I always loved: “Oh you’re so lucky you never had to go through the diaper stage!” Yeah. Because I wanted to not get my kids until they were past that point.

  4. You might want to change this to ‘what not to say to adoptive parents adopting from foreign countries’. Also, I was adopted at a few months old and I feel very lucky.

  5. My “favorite” question: Why didn’t their real mom want them? Asked in front of my two children.

  6. We adopted from another country, 36+ years ago (They were 8 and 6 years old, brothers). Everyone of those statements “not to say to adoptive parents” —we heard repeatedly. At times it hurt us, and more so, our sons when they finally began learning English.

    Oh, and we lived in Navy housing at the time and the entire neighborhood threw a surprise shower, and I mean SURPRISE! Still brings tears to my eyes.

  7. Brilliant article 🙂

  8. Brenda Gallogly says:

    I have adopted 7 children. All who are my sons and daughters!
    I have been asked several of these questions along with: do they all have the same mom and dad? That’s the one that gets to me the most. Another is aren’t you kind of old to adopt, being that we have biological sons 42 and 36 and our youngest adopted son is 6
    Why adopt when you could continue to foster them? Amazes me the most. Thank you for the arrival, hopefully it opens minds to those who are mindless!

  9. The other one (we’ve heard all ten of the ones you’ve posted) that has always baffled me is “I could never adopt!” They usually mean either “you’re a saint” or “you’re crazy” and we’re neither!

  10. I love this, Carly! Though this is currently hypothetical, I am sincerely seeking suggestions for how to respond to the inevitable “ignorant” statements and questions I expect to get as an adopting parent. I am not a mother yet, but have hoped to be through both biological and adoptive means. My husband and I (of almost six years) discussed our mutual desire/plan to adopt very early in our relationship. With that said, I have dealt with medical issues for the past five years which physically prevent me from conceiving, though there is the potential for healing. At this point, I feel like an adoption would be viewed as “oh, because they couldn’t get pregnant, etc.” I guess I feel hesitant to adopt while dealing with what would seem to others as a fertility issue because I don’t want that to negate the fact that we want to adopt regardless. The children that would be grafted into our family through adoption will not be a last resort, an alternative to pregnancy/birthing, nor a fall back option. They will be ours, whom we prayed for, planned for, and loved no differently than if we had conceived them ourselves! The question I have for you all comes down to this: how do I SIMPLY explain that without having to go into some lengthy explanation to defend why the “infertility” is not a factor in our adopting decision? Especially to those who know I can not conceive at this time? I don’t want to be rude with “it’s not your business” type responses, but the details are personal and painful- and really aren’t the business of anyone outside whom we chose to share with. On one hand, it doesn’t matter what people think. I just fear it would devalue my adopted children to those around us or something would be said to, or in front of, my kids that would make them feel like they were second pick (even though my husband and I would communicate often to them that they were a gift to us from God whom we had eagerly prayed and waited for to be a part of our family.) I just don’t see “yes, but that’s not why,” being a good enough response to someone asking if we were unable to have “our own,” in regards to our decision to adopt. Suggestions for concise LOVING responses that don’t require privacy invasion? (I SO hope I don’t hear the “now you’ll get pregnant comment.”)

    • We are currently in the process of fostering to adopt and I think a good response for you would be, “my husband and I have always planned on adopting at some point so now iss as good of a time as any. We are so excited to see who God has chosen to bring into our family.” Or something like that

    • Be prepared to hear the “Now you will get pregnant.” My husband and I went through six years of infertility before adopting, and like you we were wanting to adopt before that even factored in. However, I heard that comment from several different people including family members who I really thought “got it”. The truth is, you will probably hear all of these comments. You just need to prepare yourself for it and remember that most people are well meaning but just ignorant of the process and all that is involved. They have no idea, just like all of have areas of life that we have no concept of. I’m sure all of us have made terribly insensitive comments with only the best intentions to others going through situations that we are not at all familiar with. Start planning now what you will say (no one answer is right or the best), and ask God to give you a spirit of grace to remember that just as they aren’t walking in your shoes neither are you walking in their’s. It’s a wonderful chance to educate people on what adoption really means and it’s also good for a laugh with your friends as the author put it.

    • Hi Kris! I would echo what others here have said — you will, most likely, receive a LOT of “Now you’ll get pregnant!” comments. Our struggle with secondary infertility was known among our close friends, and we did hear this from quite a few of them (and have continued to hear “Are you going to try to get pregnant now?” since he has been home). It is hard not to be hurt by it, because it makes me feel as though our son is viewed as a “second best option”. Like you — adoption was an easy choice for us — something we had talked about before marriage. So it never felt like a “back up plan”, even though it may have been perceived that way. When comments like this are made, I always try to reply with, “We’re truly hoping to grow our family through adoption.” But I know that doesn’t even begin to cover it…. 🙂

    • I kept delaying my response to y’all with the thought, “thank you, ladies,” was not an adequate way of showing my appreciation for your support and suggestions regarding such a tender subject. Please know I am grateful for you and for your encouragement, late as the words may be.

  11. melissa line says:

    We adopted three siblings ages 1,2 & t5. Our church threw us a huge shower/ welcome party. Such a blessing!! You make great points!

    • Congratulations! And what a wonderful blessing! Our church threw us a beautiful shower, too, and it is one of my FAVORITE memories of the process!

  12. About 3-4 months after we brought out son home we had a big family party. My one aunt (who I really don’t speak to anymore due to many reasons) said, “Oh, you’re so lucky he looks just like you.” Well, she might have meant it as two separate sentences. You’re so lucky and he looks just like you. But that’s not how it came across and I knew what she meant. I looked at her and said flatly, “No we’re just lucky to have such an amazing, healthy little guy. I didn’t care what he looked like.” UGH!

  13. kelly kurrus says:

    I have friends who have adopted from foster care as we have, and it is uncanny to me how closely our adopted children resemble our bio children. Because of the big age difference (our adopted son is 7, his 7 brothers and sisters are all age 20 and over), our daughters are often mistaken for his mom. And when I am out and about with him, I often hear “Are you out with Grandma?” His response is an incredulous “No, that’s my mom”…my response, “I am a grandma, but I’m not HIS grandma.” And honestly, we have had more rude comments regarding the size of our family than we had about adopting a baby at our age.

  14. The most hurtful comment I ever had was when someone was eavesdropping on a conversation between my friend and myself. She was asking how things were going for us. Our adopted son has many behaviour issues and can become violent, something my friend knew and was wondering how I was coping. The eavesdropping lady said something to the effect that she would never put up with something like that, implying that we were doing a bad job of parenting, that we chose for life to be like this and a few other things that I chose not to remember.

  15. Yep, have heard all of these and more. Five of our blessings are adopted and we were foster parents for years before that so you would think that I would be used to the questions by now but once in awhile, there is still one that I haven’t heard before that will shock me. I’ve put together a few of my own lists of these questions too because some of them are almost too crazy to believe. Strangers have accused me of wanting adopted children because adoption is a fad and the kids are like fashion accessories, I’ve had two people on two separate occasions ask me IN FRONT OF my kids if they know that they are adopted, and even had people ask if two of my kids (who are not of the same sex or race) are identical twins!
    I have found though that for the most part, people are well-meaning and that their questions give me the chance to educate them in a gentle way about acceptable adoption language and even educate them about how wonderful adoption can be.
    While I read your list, I was nodding and even laughing because it was all so familiar!

  16. I am an adoptive parent myself, x3. In my opinion, You have to be thick-skinned when it comes to comments like these. Similar offenses are heard every day by families with physical or mentally disabled members, or incarcerated, or deployed in the armed forces, or have a terminal illness, or based on same-sex couples. Should everyone study lists of alternative comments for all of these circumstances? Articles like this scare people away from talking about adoption, because they worry about what to say. People generally mean well, have patience with them, shrug it off and move on!

    • I agree that people often DO mean well! I know that in intending to mean well with some of my questions and comments to others — whether it’s a pregnant woman, someone who has lost a loved one or my veteran friends — I don’t always say something that builds them up. I always appreciate reading stories from people who have different experiences than mine so that I can better learn how to be supportive to them and their families in my conversation!

    • I actually appreciate the opportunity to learn about and research some things my friends are experiencing, without expecting them to speak for all adoptive parents/veterans/etc. I for one have been asked ‘did you kill anyone’ and ‘did you see any of your friends killed’ by near-strangers if I mention deployment. I really appreciate there being well written alternative avenues for people to find out why that is a bad idea, without me having to actually explain why, if I shot someone or watched my best friend die, the bellman at the hotel I just checked in to is probably not a person I want to explore this with or explain to them that their question makes me feel like a zoo animal being looked at, and not a person whose experiences they actually care about.

      • I agree. I’m one of those featherbrains who blurt out the 1st thing in my head just for a laugh & kick myself later( I’m seriously sorry to those I’ve embarrassed over the years) but just reading these “good” alternatives helps prepare me to respond better another time. Can I also add that some of the inappropriate reactions were envy expressed wrongly.

  17. We adopted in October 2013. It was the most wonderful day of our lives. We are in South Africa. We have a ten year old son who was beside himself too no longer be an only child. Everyone around us our close friends and family were over the moon for us. Going out in public was another story. Especially form the coloured population. They asked what we were doing with one of theirs? Where did I buy her. Intially it was hard but after a year and a half I no longer notice the stares and no longer bother to answer the silly offence questions. Adopting our daughter was the most beautiful thing we did besides having our son and I am so excited about trying to do it again. The saddest thing for me when people ask offence questions is ” I cant believe that the world is still so ignorant “

  18. I have an adopted sister and she looks like the rest of the family, so much so that people would frequently tell us they could tell we were related when I was younger (she’s 12 year older than me). She was born with some birth defects to her hands and feet and is in fact missing one arm just below the elbow and people would ask my mom if she was thinking clearly, adopting a child that so clearly needed extra attention. She was their first and they were mid-20’s in medical school (that’s how my mom found out about her, she was born the last week of my mom’s nursery rotation) so most of their friends and family thought they were crazy. They never looked back with regret and she was always grateful that they wanted her. Growing up, I knew she was special, she was chosen, and thought it was weird other families DIDN’T adopt.

    I heard lots of those questions growing up and just stared at people like they were crazy or would correct them. “Well, our mom is her real mom. Her birth mom was someone else.”

    We also are friends with a family that adopted 5 boys, three from different countries (Mexico, Canada, and China) and I loved how they loved their children. They had to teach the Chinese son English since he was 10 when he joined the family. That had to be interesting. lol

    • I am the oldest of 4 sisters, 2 sets of birth sisters, 2 with adopted parents, 2 with biological parents (does that make sense?) Anyway, my youngest son (biological) has very blond hair. I was asked where he gets it from. My response was that my husband had blond hair as a little kid, and that my youngest sister had really blond hair when she was little too. Took me a minute to realise that as she and I are not biologically related, her hair colour doesn’t affect that of my son genetically. She’s my real sister, enough said.
      Love this post by the way.

  19. Kathy Brumit says:

    Here’s one that stuck with me. Said by an apparently mean-spirited woman at church 29 years ago, when we adopted our first of two sons. We were on cloud 9, having brought my 6-wk-old to worship with us for the first time, when she said, “Well, I’m just sorry you’ll never know what it’s like to be a real mother, since you can’t nurse him!” Seriously? As if all of parenting revolves around a pair of mammary glands. Even if she really believed this, she should’ve kept her mouth glued shut 🙂

    • I was with a friend in a little shop once that sold all things nursing. She was obviously pregnant and I was obviously not. After the first rather hurtful, “When are you having a baby?” And my explanation of being a foster parent and waiting on a placement I then got, “Will you nurse them?” Huh?!?! I then explained that I had no way of knowing when I would get a placement and that the placement could be birth to 8 years and that the children would still have bio parents. I then got, “There are medical ways of nursing a child wo isn’t your own!” That was 8 1/2 years ago…

  20. I had a friend who was considering adoption and someone said something to them like, “I hope they are healthy because it would be terrible to spend all that money and then they just die on you.”
    Talk about devaluing a life!!! They way they came across was like they thought the child wouldn’t be a loss, but the money would! Gag.

  21. RealHouseWifeinRealLife says:

    Ok so. I don’t know many adoptive families that have small children. I met a lady at church a few months back and as we were chatting I asked her “how long have you been all together as a family.” Because she had 2 little black boys and one little blonde with her. They were ALL the same age! She responded very graciously and explained their story but I have often thought back and hoped that I didn’t offend her. I was truly interested in how it all went down. I’ll have 5 in 8 years this summer but never twins so that always catches my eye. Anyway did I phrase that correctly? In need of some adoptive mom etiquette as I believe a new friend of mine may be about to adopt soon. I’d like to be as supportive as I can.

    • I love how truly THOUGHTFUL you seek to be. I am asked often, “How long has your son been with you?” or “How long have you been a family?” I can’t speak for every adoptive parent, but I can say that this in no way bothers me. I so appreciate that people acknowledge that he is my son/that we are a family as they ask this question. I love sharing our adoption story (obviously — or I wouldn’t be blogging about it!). Many families who adopt — especially transracially — do so realizing that they are going to be a conscpicuous family and that it will be obvious that their kids are adopted and we will be asked about it. We don’t mind answering thoughtful questions that respect our child’s privacy and acknowledge that we are a family. Thanks for the question!

      I’ll also reassure you that I don’t think you need to walk on eggshells around your friend. Sometimes you will say the wrong thing. I have said the wrong thing PLENTY of times in my life (as I admitted in the introduction to this post), but I hope that by sharing tips and reading tips from others, we can all work to build one another up in the end.

  22. betsy stafford says:

    I love this! This is so true on many levels when it come to a child…. I am a step parent I know there is a world of difference however many similarities also…. my hats off to you for loving children regardless of race or creed or nationality and raising them as they deserve to be raised and treated equally and loved as they are family too.

  23. My husband’s brother asked my husband if we were going to get a psych evaluation done on our son before moving forward with his referral :-/ Our son was 18.5 months when we first learned about him and 21 months when we traveled to Ethiopia to bring him home 🙂

  24. My least favorite is when they tell you the joke…”oh my parents used to always tease me and get me so mad by telling me I was adopted.” Do you seriously not understand how offensive that joke is?

  25. From a family member: ARE YOU CRAZY??? You are going to destroy your family and ruin your lives if you bring a child like THAT into your home. We heard that from a few former friends too.

  26. When we adopted our two children (internationally) – one in 2004 and one in 2011, my employer only provided one one week of parenting leave for each adoption! (Although I took an additional couple of months of unpaid leave to help my child adjust and bond each time, as well as get medical issues addressed.) But when I brought up the fact that employees who give birth get 8 weeks of paid leave, as compared to one week for an adoption, I was told, “That’s because giving birth requires physical recovery and adopting a child does not require any time to recover.” Obviously, my employer had no clue.

    • WOW. I cannot even imagine how frustrating that must be. I hope you were able to successfully enlighten him. (Having given birth and having adopted a child, I can honestly say that I’m STILL recovering from the adoption — ten months later! 🙂 )

    • Kathy, It’s because legally they have to let a person recover from the physical event of birth. If it is “just” getting a baby, the US does not really support that with family leave. C section gets 8 weeks. Vaginal gets 6 because that’s when your doctor will clear you medically (for sex) and if you can have sex you can work. Can you tell men made up these laws?
      Thank you for taking the extra time with your kiddos. I’m sure you have already gotten back more than you ever put into loving your kids.

    • It’s really because the “sick time” for recovery from birth is most likely insured by short term disability. The best companies fund ‘parental leave’ separately!

  27. Michael Goedecke says:

    My daughter-to-be and I were riding in a taxi. When the driver learned that we were in the process of adopting her, he asked, “So, who is it who can’t have children, you or your wife?” He was lucky that it was too far for us to walk, and that I didn’t want to lose my temper in front of my little girl.

  28. I LOVE sharing our adoption story and don’t mind if people ask. And I ask other people as I think it’s the best gift to the adoptive parents AND to that child! If someone asks about “her mom” I politely say, “I’m her mom”. The ONLY statement I take offense to is when people said, “now you’ll get pregnant” as infertility is a very private, potentially painful, experience for a lot of women, and just because “someone-someone-knows-one-time-I-heard-about-got-pregnant-after-adopting” doesn’t mean that’s the norm.

  29. The #1 question I get and my kids are now 12 and 13 yrs old is, “are they really brother and sister?”
    Yes they really are! They are not biologically related though.

  30. My favorite quote…“I don’t care what you think about me. I don’t think about you at all.” Coco Chanel. You really have no control over what people say or think. You can only control yourself. Choose to invest your energy in those beautiful babes.

  31. When my son was still an infant people would ask – ‘how on earth could a mother give up such a beautiful baby?’ As if only babies that aren’t beautiful should be placed for adoption? And am I supposed to explain the very personal and difficult circumstances that lead to his birthmother making her adoption plan? And people would often try to ask what his adoption cost and I would tell them what style/make car they could compare it to, lol! Like “a fully loaded blah blah blah” – just to make them realize adopting a baby isn’t like buying a car 🙂

  32. I think the one that annoys me the most is “why didn’t you adopt from the US?” Especially because it comes from folks that have not adopted at all. My response is ” Why haven’t you?”

  33. Thank you for sharing your heart! Some of these are good reminders. However, it brought tears of sadness and/or perhaps anger how you grouped the developmentally disabled/black children. I agree all are worthy of love and all are creations of God. I don’t know that I can agree that it is wise to group them all together in the same phrase… I know you may just be grouping things together that adoptive parents hate to hear, but I am concerned! Not all of the terms you mentioned are conditions or diseases, and while I realize you may be one who very much agrees with me on that stance, and one who may be more loving and accepting than so many others, I hope you don’t mind too much my pointing out that the phrasing/grouping leaves something to be desired, especially considering people’s biases, prejudices, and the travesties that black people have had to endure: to group them in such a phrase could possibly propagate the idea that they are of lesser intelligence. Sometimes I, too, may say things with good intentions and a good heart, but when you really look at it, the phrasing/timing/bluntness may not have been the best, all things considered. Thanks for hearing out this teacher! 🙂

    • Oh I am so sorry that my phrasing offended you! My “control group” for this post was of three adoptive moms whose children are from Africa, and one who is adopting from a China special needs program. I grouped these things together simply because — to us — these types of questions don’t fall into the “well-meaning” category, but into the “rude and offensive” one.

      • Thanks for taking my critique well: I wish more of life could be like that, about give/take and understanding! Thanks for sharing these tips! 🙂

    • Cheryl Goodrich says:

      Thanks Miss KC for addressing your issue. I was thinking the same thing when I saw the word black group in a category. That is why I came to comment I was all into the reading and then my heart skipped a beat when I saw how blacks were categorize. Thank you Carly for responding to her comment and being compassionate. I am thankful and happy for adoptive parents. Thanks for sharing your article!

      • I went ahead and rephrased the question to “separate” the categories — I hope that helps it read more thoughtfully!

  34. “Can I touch his hair?” Seriously. No.

    • kelly kurrus says:

      I had to chuckle at this one, because our adopted son has never had anyone ask to touch his hair, but when one of our bio sons was little his hair was always cut close to his head and our pastor would come by and rub his head on a Sunday morning!

  35. The things adopted kids are asked too… don’t forget about us! I hate some of the things I have been asked. Its complicated, I don’t mind talking about how complicated it can be, but some people just say things so offensively.

  36. Foster-Adoptive Mother says:

    Really love this! As a foster-adoptive mother, it was hard not getting some of those positive responses – I was often jealous of other pregnant and newborn mamas getting meals and baby showers. They had 9 months to plan! Meanwhile, I had 2 hours from that phone call to a child arriving on our door step to plan ages 0-6. Without baby showers and without a meal. I did have a couple of friends bring a meal for one of our 6 placements. I had a couple friends bring some clothes for one of them. And I’ve never forgotten those kindnesses. I’ve delivered 2 and adopted 2, believe me, despite the physical side of recovering from labor, I needed way more support (encouragement, meals, needs) with the foster placements that I ever did with my birth kids. And as much as foreign adoptive families get the – why don’t you adopt here question, we get the – how can you foster-adopt locally and be ok with giving them back. BUT God actually used those experiences to start a foster care ministry that is now thriving and bringing lots of support to workers and families in the trenches!

    • That is wonderful to hear! Yes, so grateful for the friends who have been supportive along this journey! What would we do without them?

  37. One thing that always makes me shake my head, is that people assume we had infertility problems, that is why we adopted. We did not! And neither do so many other adoptive families. For our family, it was something God put on our heart and we answered. Never had a single infertility problem.

  38. Jhon Bastian says:

    wow amazing

  39. my favorite I get all the time for my two sons adopted from Haiti is “are they real brothers?” Let me tell you our life together has been about as real as it gets!! Not sure what a real brother is?

    • I was going to add this one… I have 2 kids who are 18 months apart, adopted each as a baby. They looked like twins for many of their younger years and did everything together. SO many people would ask right in front of their listening ears, “Are they real brother and sister?” I did not want that question put into their little minds to ponder and wonder…. yes, they each had their own birth mom but they are very very real siblings. And another stranger in a pizza place started talking across the room to me and was really insensitive, inquiring about how “I got those kids.” But more often than that I have had people bless and affirm us… and much support in the process!!

  40. Daryl Tuttle says:

    I had a co- worker come to ask if I ” legitimately adopted because it would not be favored by my employer if I had not gone through proper security protocol”. Same person 2 months later asked ” how my exchange student thing was going?”

  41. I am a mom of 3 boys…2 are adopted from Guatemala and 1 is biological. I have had multiple people comment to me (I am Caucasian) where is your husband from because your kids look just like you just not the same color??? What is that? While yes they do act like me at times because they spend most every waking hour with me they do not look like me in anyway and what does it matter what color my husband is…I think most people just don’t know what to say so they speak what they think instead of thinking about what they speak. I forgive them…I truly think it is just a lack of common sense sometimes. Thanks for sharing…I think God has a place for each and every one of us from before our conception and whatever journey you travel is His will and we are blessed to have them as our special “gift” in life.

    • Yes — all our children are, indeed, special gifts to us! I do agree that most comments are well-intended and simply come from a lack of knowledge of what to say. I wouldn’t have known either! My prayer is that we can raise awareness for appropriate terminology and tact to use, so that our kiddos can grow up feeling empowered.

  42. My oldest child was four and a half when my fourth child was born. My least favourite comment (and I heard it often) was: wow, did you finally figure out what was causing it? That’s not funny or cute that’s just inappropriate. Cringeworthy, ugh!

  43. Reblogged this on from Rachel with love and commented:
    Adoption is SO important. Whether you are an adoptive parent or a step mom or dad, you have chosen to give your heart away in such a wonderful way! I want to thank you for giving freely of your love and support you in whatever small way that I can. “Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us that we may be called the sons of God!” 1 John 3:1

  44. Love this list! And I love the excellent suggestions for what people should say instead.

    My friend has 6 children. It drives her crazy when people ask her which 2 are adopted and which 4 are biological. She usually scrunches up her face like she’s concentrating really hard and says, “Huh. I can’t remember.” The person asking the question gets the point very quickly.

    • She can’t remember because they are all her kids and it doesn’t matter how they came to be her children. And I’m sure they are loved the same. I was adopted, and am an only child. I was always introduced as their daughter, not their adopted daughter.

  45. I’m a teacher and mama to two kiddos from DR Congo and have had many many of these questions asked. When it’s my students asking I usually respond by telling them that if my girls heard them ask they’d be hurt and confused by their questions. I am their mother, their real mother, and they are sisters, real sisters. Their questions come from honest curiosity while others’ come from invasive nastiness. It will not always be possible to shield my daughters from it either, so I appreciate some “comebacks” to help people realize how invasive and rude their comments and questions are while protecting and supporting my kids, their story and our privacy as a family. Thanks! I’d like to share on my blog at http://www.farmergirls.wordpress.com …. Is that alright?

    • Hello to a fellow Congo Mama! I would be honored if you would want to include a link back to this post so that people can view the post on my blog. Feel free to use the image as well. Thanks so much for asking 🙂

  46. As a Caucasian family that is adopting 3 Sudanese children, I’d like to NOT hear, “You know, I don’t really even notice that they are black anymore. They just seem regular.” Yikes. And it’s easier if questions are not asked in front of the kids. There’s pain there, and it’s hard to answer politely when I want to protect my children from insensitivity!

  47. Julia Riggleman says:

    Children don’t “cost” so you can’t just look it up on Google. If you want to know adoption fees, that you can Google.

  48. Adoptive Mother says:

    #6. Why didn’t you adopt from America? Answer: We wanted to adopt a child from our country of origin or region of the world where my family still lives. As a small minority in the U.S.A., there are never any children from my country of origin available for adoption. We also wanted the grandparents to have a connection with our child having never been to the U.S.A. or any western country.

  49. Thank you for sharing! Having never adopted, I appreciate your helpful suggestions of how to celebrate this important experience with friends and even acquaintances. You are doing a great job and I am grateful for you!!!

  50. Adoptive Mother says:

    Instead of “natural parents,” how about “adoptive parents” and “birth parents” instead?

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