With the power of social media, parents are able to share every aspect of their lives with the click of a button. You can share cute photos of your children, parenting hacks, or stories of your daily life. It’s a great way to keep family and friends up-to-date on your life, but it has also opened the door for a troubling new trend: parent shaming.
As peoples’ lives have become public via social media, other parents, friends, relatives and even strangers have taken to shaming parents for the choices they make in raising their kids. From breastfeeding vs. formula feeding to private vs. public school and everything in between.
Unfortunately, for those in the adoption community, it doesn’t stop there. Lately, we’ve heard from several of our adoptive families that have experienced adoption shaming. We’ve heard stories of families being criticized for not trying IVF or other fertility treatments. We’ve heard of families being shamed for adopting from foster care or internationally, or for adopting domestically. We’ve even heard from families who were criticized for adopting a child outside their race or ethnicity.
At American Adoptions, we believe there is no “right” way to build a family; and it’s time we stop shaming others for the way they become parents.
One of the most beautiful things about the human race is that no two beings are the same. We are all free to think different thoughts and make different decisions. And yes, we are also free to make judgements toward others. But where is the good in that? Who is it helping?
Dealing with the Haters
For those of you who have been a victim of adoption shaming here is our advice for handling the negativity.
- Think before you respond
Before you hit send on that ranting reply, take a minute to think about what you’re saying. It’s all too easy to respond to the haters by shaming them for their own parenting/adoption decisions. But this just turns into a vicious circle of shaming. Instead, take a moment to calm down before responding. Take this opportunity to support their parenting decisions, even if you don’t entirely agree with them.
- Respond…with kindness
Thank them for their input/concern/advice. Tell him or her that you are glad that option worked for them, but that’s not what was best for your family.
In some cases, adoption shaming stems from a lack of knowledge. Maybe your well-intentioned family doesn’t realize the high cost of the fertility treatments they are suggesting. Our best advice for these situations is to share the realities of fertility treatments. If possible, let them know that these treatments aren’t the best option for everyone.
- Tell them to butt out
In a nice way, of course. The truth of the matter is that the reasons you chose to grow your family the way you did is no one’s business but your own. If you’re not comfortable broaching the topic, or if they’re just being rude, it’s ok to tell them you’d rather not talk about it.
Stopping the Trend
To stop adoption shaming, you have to start with yourself. If you find yourself being critical of another parent, take a minute to remember that they are coming from a different place than you are. Their journey to adoption was different than yours. They may have different values, priorities or preferences than you.
Remember, there is no “right” way to become parents. And it is never your place to tell another adoptive family that they are doing it “wrong”. Instead, be supportive of other families and reassure them that they are doing the best they can. We’re all on a journey and we can use all the support we can get.