As an adoptive parent, you know …
that adoption invites all kinds of comments.
As an adoptee and an adoptive mom, I understand.
Some comments or questions are kind and supportive, while others leave us scratching our head and wondering what—if anything—to say in response.
Here are 7 common things adoptive parents hear (and how to respond to them with grace)—
1. “Your child is so lucky.”
As a parent, it’s hard to hear these words because we know (at least some of) what our child has experienced in the past. At the very least, we know he has experienced loss. So when we hear these words, we envision our child’s loss while the person saying these words may be thinking entirely about our child’s gain.
Potential response: It’s actually the other way around. We’re the ones who are blessed to have him in our lives.
2. “Now that you’ve adopted, you’ll probably get pregnant.”
Adoption is not a fertility treatment, and in fact, many people who choose to adopt aren’t infertile. Further, even if you have walked the infertility journey, you likely didn’t adopt with any expectation that it would result in pregnancy. Despite what you may feel when you hear these words, you don’t owe anyone information about your fertility. Instead, recognize that the person may be trying—however unsuccessfully—to say something positive.
Potential response: If God gives us another child, we’ll love him, too.
3. “I wish I had adopted—it’s way easier than giving birth.”
Paperwork. Interviews. Legal fees. Waiting. Travel. The list could go on. There’s nothing easy about the adoption process. And, for that matter, there’s nothing easy about childbirth, either. Instead of doing a comparison or pro/con list in response to this kind of comment (which, let’s be real—it’s tempting), remember how little you may have understood about the complexity of the adoption process in the beginning. When we remember how much we had to learn, it’s easier to show grace to those who still need to learn it.
Potential response: There’s no quick or easy way to bring children into the family, but thankfully, God’s grace is sufficient for both.
4. “Adopted kids have issues.”
Yes, adopted kids have issues, because every person has issues. And while adopted children may have unique or additional challenges to overcome due to the painful details of their past, every child is fearfully and wonderfully made and worthy of our love and acceptance. To imply that a child with emotional or physical needs is somehow “less good” or less worthy of our love and support is to misunderstand the heart of God.
Potential response: My child needs the same thing every child needs—to be loved.
5. “I understand what you’ve been through—I adopted my dog.”
As an adoptee, I’ve always found it disappointing that we use the same term whether we’re adopting children or animals. Last time I searched for “adopt” on Google, 11 of the 12 links on the front page were for animals and not children. In our home, we distinguish the two by using the word “rescue” when referring to pets, and we use the term “adopt” when referring to children. And we don’t confuse the two.
Potential response: That’s great that you rescued your dog. Having seen the difference you can make for an animal, just imagine the difference adoption can make in the life of a child.
6. “You’re a saint. I could never adopt.”
Unfortunately, many people today misunderstand the “why” behind adoption, and their comments reflect that. So this can lead to unwanted and misappropriated praise or hero-worship. Thankfully, it can also provide us with the opportunity to share the reason for the calling. What an opportunity!
Potential response: I’m not a saint. Just ask my family. But I get to love my child(ren) because Christ first loved me.
7. “You never know what you’ll get when you adopt.”
Usually, this type of comment is followed by a sensational example of an extended family member or friend who adopted, and the adopted child ended up doing something horrific. Spoiler alert: It usually involves setting something on fire. As an adoptee, I’m always tempted to start listing the names of serial killers who were raised by their bio parents. Not helpful. What is helpful is being gently reminded that—while statistics do not determine outcome—kids are at greater risk when they aren’t given the love of a family.
Potential response: We can’t be sure what choices any of our kids—biological or adopted—will make in life. And the risk to this child if he isn’t adopted is far greater than the risk will ever be to me for adopting him.
Yes, comments can be challenging or even frustrating, but the key is grace. Chances are, if someone is willing to engage with you in a conversation about adoption—even in the grocery store—he or she is making an effort.
And that’s a great first step.
Be the reason a child has a family.
Money should never be the reason a child doesn’t have a family. Yet for most Christians considering adoption, finances are the number barrier to starting the journey. That’s why, here at Lifesong, we offer free adoption financial assistance–helping families adopt and orphans become sons & daughters!