Maybe you know someone who has recently adopted a child – maybe it’s even someone close to you. If this is a new experience to you, you may not know much about adoption and how to talk to parents who have adopted. For that reason, it can be easy to accidentally say something that seems positive but can actually be upsetting.
Here are six common things that people say to adoptive parents that aren’t as helpful as you might think, and what you can say instead.
“I’m sorry you couldn’t have one of your own.”
Adoptive parents may or may not have tried to have a child biologically, but it doesn’t matter – their adopted child is their own. Celebrate adoption for what it is: an addition to a loving family.
What to say instead: “I’m so happy for you!”
“I can’t believe someone would give up such a beautiful baby!”
Many people don’t understand the incredibly difficult decision that birth mothers make. They do not “give up” their babies for adoption – they make the choice that is best for their babies.
What to say instead: “I bet the birth mother is happy she found you.”
“You’re so lucky you didn’t have to deal with pregnancy and labor.”
Statements like this imply that an adoptive parent had a baby “the easy way,” which doesn’t acknowledge the very real challenges that they face. Many adoptive families have also struggled with infertility – which they certainly don’t want to be told they are lucky for.
What to say instead: “Adoption isn’t exactly easy, either.”
“He’ll probably want to meet his real mom.”
The mom that you are talking to is his real mom. And whether or not he wants to meet his birth mother is for him and his family to decide.
What to say instead: “Are you still in touch with his birth mom?”
“Now that you’ve adopted, you’ll probably get pregnant.”
The purpose of adoption is not to get pregnant. Families adopt because they are committed to taking that route to grow their families – and more importantly, because they want to be parents.
What to say instead: “Now that you’ve adopted, you’ll probably be a very busy mom.”
“Your baby is so lucky.”
Instead, say: “You’re so lucky.”
When talking to an adoptive parent, it’s important to remember that adoption is a deeply personal experience. If you have questions about adoption, most parents would be happy to answer you, but also remember to see them for what they are: parents.