How could you just give your baby away?”

“Why would you adopt a baby when there are so many older children waiting for adoption?”

“It’s selfish and irresponsible to get pregnant and give the baby up instead of facing the consequences.”

“Are you sure you don’t want to adopt a child of the same race as you?”

Whether you’re a birth mother, adoptive parent, waiting family or pregnant woman considering adoption, chances are good that you may face judgment or criticism at some point in your journey. Not everyone will understand or agree with the choices you make throughout your adoption process, and some people will make those opinions known through questions and comments like the ones above.

So, how do you deal with the adoption haters in your life?

1. Know it’s not true.

First of all, no matter what horrible, negative and insensitive comments someone makes about you or your family, know that they’re not true. Placing a child for adoption is one of the most selfless and courageous things a mother can do, and there is no “right” or “wrong” way to build a family. Don’t ever forget it, and don’t let the negativity bring you down.

2. Take it as an opportunity.

You’re never obligated to act as a spokesperson for the adoption community, but it sometimes helps to think of these negative encounters as teachable moments. Clearly, any adoption shaming you’re subjected to is seriously misguided. And, often, it’s not really the person’s intent to hurt you — maybe they’re just ignorant when it comes to how adoption works today.

By sharing some of your story and using positive adoption language, you can help educate others about adoption, birth parents and adoptive families — and hopefully help reduce instances like these in the future.

3. Have a response ready.

Sometimes, questions or comments about your adoption decision can be so insensitive that they totally throw you off guard. When you’re rendered speechless and not sure how to respond (or when you’re tempted to respond with something equally hurtful), it helps to have a civil but firm answer prepared.

Thank the person for their input or concern, but let them know that you’re doing what’s best for yourself and your family. Keep it short and sweet, and let them know that your adoption decision is personal and not something that’s open for discussion.

4. Change the subject.

Again, your adoption journey is nobody’s business but your own, and it’s not something you have to talk about if you’re not comfortable doing so. Give your generic, pre-prepared response, and then politely change the subject.

5. Walk away.

Unfortunately, some people simply don’t want to be educated about adoption or won’t let go when you try to redirect the conversation — and it’s not worth wasting your time or energy on them. If you feel like you’re being attacked for your adoption choices, and if the above tips aren’t working for you, don’t be afraid to walk away. You deserve to feel supported in your adoption journey, and sometimes this is the best course of action.

How you choose to respond to adoption criticism is up to you, and it may vary depending on who it’s coming from, what their intentions are or even how you’re feeling that day. Just remember: you should never let someone else’s opinion influence how you feel about your adoption journey.

If you are struggling to respond to adoption criticism and need support, reach out to your adoption specialist at 1-800-ADOPTION.