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How to Talk with Your Friends About Adoption

As an adoptee, the people in your life may come to you with questions about adoption. Whether these questions are about your adoption specifically or adoption in general, this is a great opportunity to shed some light on what it means to be adopted.

While the stigma surrounding adoption has faded in recent years, there are still a lot of misconceptions and a general lack of knowledge about how adoption works and the many benefits involved. Because of this, people might have questions when they learn that you’re adopted.

So, what are the best ways to talk about adoption?

Even if you have had a positive adoption experience, it can be difficult to find the right words to talk about adoption on the spot. That’s why we created this guide on how to talk about adoption. Whether it is with your friends, peers or someone you just met, being able to speak confidently about adoption can help others to better understand it.

Adoption as a Part of Your Identity

One of the biggest challenges adoptees face is embracing adoption as part of their identity. You have likely had a lot of questions about your adoption. Questions such as:

  • Why did my birth parents choose adoption?

  • How does adoption affect me?

  • How do I fit into my birth family?

While the answers to these questions don’t define you, your adoption story will always be a part of you. Without adoption, you wouldn’t be where you are today. This could be worth emphasizing when talking to your peers about adoption. 

Even if you don’t know everything about your birth family, you do know what adoption has given you: An amazing adoptive family who loves you and life full of opportunity. If you are in an open adoption, you’ve had the privilege of knowing the love of two families.

If you have grown up with some degree of contact with your birth parents, you might have had an easier time accepting adoption as part of your self-identity. You can talk about your birth family’s genetic history, cultural background and what ways you might resemble your birth parents, while also talking about the adoptive parents who raised you and gave you the life you may not have been able to have without adoption.

Talking About the Challenges of Adoption

While there are many ways adoptees benefit from adoption, there’s no denying that it has its challenges. You may feel grateful for the life that adoption has given you while also feeling guilty. These feelings of guilt may stem from feeling like you contributed to your birth parent’s decision to choose adoption or that you are betraying your adoptive family by wanting to connect with your birth parents. While neither of these things are true, that doesn’t mean your emotions are any less valid.

If your adoption was closed, not having the closure of knowing your adoption history can fuel feelings of grief, loss, and confusion. Not knowing your family background might make it feel like a piece of your self-identity is missing. You might be constantly going over the possible reasons why your birth parents placed you for adoption. If you were able to connect with your birth parents, you may have been disappointed if they weren’t what you were expecting. Or maybe they weren’t ready or willing to connect.

No matter how much you love your adoptive family or how grateful you are for the opportunities you’ve had because of adoption, it’s perfectly normal to experience difficult emotions as well. Acknowledging these challenges is important. It’s also important to understand that these challenges can coexist with all of the wonderful aspects of adoption. Every adoptee’s experience is different, and there is no right or wrong way to feel about yours.

Best Ways to Talk About Adoption [Using Positive Language]

One of the most common phrases used when talking about adoption is “giving a child up for adoption” or “give up a baby for adoption.” Because of this, some people tie adoption to the misconception that birth parents placed their baby for adoption because they are giving up. But, this isn’t true.

Adoption is never giving up. It’s a brave and selfless choice made out of love. Your birth parents chose adoption because they weren’t able or ready to give you the amazing life they wanted for you. They knew that they could give you a life full of stability and opportunity through adoption. 

Since adoption is far from giving up, using positive adoption language when telling your story can be very helpful. The best ways to talk about adoption is by using alternative phrases, such as:

  • Choose adoption. This emphasizes the autonomy of your birth parents. In today’s adoptions, the birth parents are very involved the adoption process. In most cases, they’re even able to parents. They made this choice out of their love for you.

  • Place for adoption. “Placement” is actual adoption jargon. It is the technical term for when an adoption is finalized. Placement is when the adoption is when the birth parents legally consent to the adoption and the adoption is finalized.

Language and colloquial phrases have a big impact on the way people view what the phrase is referring to. By using positive adoption language it can help others understand adoption as the positive process that it is.

How to Talk About Adoption

One of the most basic ways to go about talking about adoption is simply explaining how the adoption process works. If someone has never been adopted or gone through the adoption process, they are often lacking basic adoption information. There are a couple of ways you can educate your peers on adoption:

  • Talk about your adoption story

  • Explain the adoption process in a generalized fashion

Which route you take is up to you and what you are comfortable talking about.

If you have the information to talk about your adoption story, you could explain why your birth parents chose adoption. Talk about the ways you feel you have benefited from your adoption and how different your life might be if you hadn’t been placed for adoption. If you are in an open adoption, you could talk about the ways your birth parents have been involved in your life.

If you don’t feel comfortable going into detail about your personal adoption story or you don’t have enough information, you could talk about the adoption process itself. If you’re unsure of how to talk about adoption, there are many online resources available to you that go into detail about the adoption process. Highlight how birth parents have an active role in the adoption process or how all adoptive families go through a rigorous screening process to ensure they are ready to adopt.

Knowledge is power, and the more adoption knowledge you can provide the people around you with, the more you might feel like you can embrace adoption as a part of yourself.

Information available through these links is the sole property of the companies and organizations listed therein. American Adoptions provides this information as a courtesy and is in no way responsible for its content or accuracy.

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